One rematch down. Another one on the way.
Fresh off a 51-50 victory over St. Thomas Aquinas in the first round of the playoffs, the Crestview football team has a date with the defending Div. V champion Kirtland at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Mollenkopf Stadium in Warren.
The Hornets beat Crestview 35-7 in a Div. V regional final last season on their way to the state title. That game was also at Mollenkopf Stadium.
"It's a good opportunity," Crestview coach Paul Cusick said. "You're going to have to play them eventually anyway since they are the state champion. The kids are excited. Having experienced it a year ago, the kids kind of know what to expect now. They're not going to be in awe."
Kirtland, who finished second in the Div. V state media poll, owns Ohio's longest current winning streak at 26 games (the team has also won 35 straight regular season games). There are 28 unbeaten teams, including Crestview, left in the playoffs. There were 35 total heading into the first round of the playoffs.
The Rebels improved to 7-10 all-time in the playoffs with the nailbiter victory over St. Thomas. Kirtland is 10-6 all-time in the playoffs, winning its last six playoff games. The Rebels and Hornets also met in the playoffs in 2008 with Kirtland winning that game 41-13.
"They still have the same philosophy," Cusick said. "They run the ball and have big play capability. They're well coached and disciplined. They don't make mistakes. We're going to have to play our best game."
Crestview's last game against a defending state champion was a 48-14 loss to Ursuline in a 2009 playoff game at Austintown Fitch.
Kirtland is 3-1 against Inter-Tri County League upper tier teams in the playoffs. South Range owns the only ITCL playof win over the Hornets with a 45-30 win in a first round game in 2007.
The winner of Kirtland-Crestview will face the winner of Saturday's other Div. V, Region 17 game - Ursuline (7-4) and Cuyahoga Heights (10-1) - next Saturday in the regional final.
In other area playoff action, ITCL lower tier champion Western Reserve (9-2) will face Div. VI state poll champion Mogadore (11-0) at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Ravenna's Gilcrest Field. Fresh off beating top-seeded Marlington, Poland (8-3) will face Dover (9-2) at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Green's Infocision Field. In Div. I, the Massillon-McKinley rivalry will renew at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Kent's Dix Stadium. Massillon beat McKinley 37-29 in the regular season finale.