COLUMBIANA - Buoyed by its first perfect regular season in school history, the Crestview football team will be carrying the flag for the Inter-Tri County League upper tier and Columbiana County schools as the Rebels are set to host St. Thomas Aquinas at 7 p.m. on Saturday in the first round of the Div. V high school playoffs.
The Rebels (10-0) finished as the fourth seed in Region 17 and thanks to a loss by Youngstown Ursuline on Friday, a home game popped up on the radar.
"It's always nice to get that extra home game," Crestview coach Paul Cusick said. "We're excited about it."
It's also a rematch of a playoff game from last season.
Crestview eliminated St. Thomas with a 41-20 victory in a second round game in Ravenna. The Rebels went out a week later with a loss to eventual state-champion Kirtland at Mollenkopf Stadium in Warren.
"We know what to expect with them since we've played them in that playoff game last year," Cusick said. "We've also scrimmaged them in the past."
The winner of the Crestview-St. Thomas game will face the winner of defending Div. V state champion Kirtland and Beverly Fort Frye on Nov. 10. In the other side of the bracket, Sugarcreek Garaway is hosting Youngstown Ursuline on Saturday, while Cuyahoga Heights entertains Bellaire. The winners of those two games will meet on Nov. 10 as well.
Five of the eight participants in this season's Div. V, Region 17 playoffs are back from a year ago.
The Rebels knew St. Thomas was going to be the opponent late Friday night as scores started to come in. Cusick said they did not advance scout the Knights since they had a pretty good familiarity with the program from Stark County.
Cusick said he's not sure the team will feel any extra pressure being the only ITCL upper tier in the playoffs.
"Anytime you're in week 11, you want to do well anyway," Cusick said. "The kids just want to go out and play."
As far as the lower tier is concerned, league champion Western Reserve (8-2) snatched the fifth seed in Div. VI, Region 21 and will travel to play Shadyside on Friday. The Blue Devils, who advanced to the state semifinals last season, have won eight straight.
Also in Mahoning County, Austintown Fitch (9-1) will be at Cleveland St. Ignatius for a Div. I encounter on Saturday. Poland (7-3) snuck in with the eighth seed in Div. III, Region 11 and will be at Marlington (8-2) on Saturday. Youngstown Christian (6-3) will be at Warren JFK (9-1) on Friday in a Div. VI, Region 21 contest.