Crestview flexed its muscles in a 41-20 win over St. Thomas Aquinas in the second round of the Div. V, Region 17 playoffs last season, but this time around it might not go the same way.
The two schools meet at 7 p.m. tonight at Crestview High School with one loss between the two of them. The Rebels polished off their first undefeated season in school history last week with a 57-14 victory over South Range on Friday, while St. Thomas finished a 9-1 season with an impressive 28-0 win over parochial rival Canton Central Catholic.
The main issue with both teams is there isn't an accurate measurement as to how good they actually are.
St. Thomas has only played two teams with winning records this season. The Knights beat 6-4 Tuslaw 34-0 to open the season and lost to Div. III, Region 11 top-seed Marlington 17-14 in the third week of the season. The combined record of St. Thomas' opponents was 37-63. All but two of those opponents were Div. III and above though.
The lone Div. V opponent St. Thomas played was Garfield Heights Trinity. St. Thomas won that game 35-3, one week after South Range beat the same team 42-12.
Crestview, on the other hand, has beaten five teams with winning records. None of them won more than seven games though. The combined record of the Rebels' opponents was slightly better than St. Thomas' at 41-59.
Crestview played all Div. V and VI opponents except Beaver Local.
"I always take looking at another team's schedule with a grain of salt," Crestview coach Paul Cusick said. "It is what it is and you have to play who you have to play."
St. Thomas sticks to the basics and is very good at what they do. Crestview is well aware of the game plan and will not be surprised at what it sees on Saturday.
"They're a power football team," Cusick said. "They have some, big strong kids. They have a great defensive end/tight end kid who is going to Boston College. Both running backs are solid. They're solid up and down really. They play well together."
The Boston College recruit is 6-4, 230-pound senior Joel Rich of Minerva. Rich has 22 catches for 243 yards and six touchdowns on offense and 61 tackles including five sacks on defense. Bryan Wilkins, who scored in last season's playoff game, is the Knights' leading rusher with 908 yards on 138 attempts and 14 touchdowns. He's aided by Josiah Moore with 89 carries for 656 yards and 10 touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Anthony Moeglin has hit 73 of 127 passes for 1,057 yards and 15 touchdowns. He has thrown just one interception. He also plays defensive back and has registered 44 tackles.
As far as team statistics are concerned, Crestview has a huge advantage. The Rebels have 3,790 yards rushing to the Knights' 2,403. In the passing department, St. Thomas edges Crestview slightly 1,057 to 947. Crestview, which set the record for points scored in a season last week, is averaging 56.3 points per game, while limiting opponents to 11.4 points per game. St. Thomas is scoring 33.9 points per game while holding opponents to 8.5 points per game.
"They're a very good, well-coached physical team," Crestview's Dylan Douglass said. ""It's fun to line up and play someone like that."
Drew Pasteur's Fantastic50.net, which deals in computer-based predictions for high school football games, thinks that St. Thomas will win the game by five points. The site's regular season predictions claimed a success rate of nearly 80 percent. To put that in comparison, our Hot Seat winner Ron Firth picked games correctly at a 76-percent rate.
As far as Div. V state championship favorites are concerned, Fantastic50.net gives Coldwater a 45.7 percent chance at claiming the title. Lima Central Catholic is the second favorite at 22.7 percent. Youngstown Ursuline sits at 19.7 percent, while defending state champion Kirtland is at 7.9 percent. St. Thomas is listed as having a 0.7 percent chance at winning the state title. Crestview's odds were not listed.
Crestview has punted 12 times this year with six coming in the first game of the season.
St. Thomas already extracted a measure of revenge in the winter with a 65-43 victory over the Rebels in a Div. III basketball tournament game in March at Salem High School.