COLUMBIANA-The newest addition to Friday's Penn-Ohio Stateline Classic was also among the most surprised to be picked.
Crestview offensive tackle Clint Linhart was not originally selected to the Ohio squad but received a phone call last Thursday informing him that Cody Martsolf of Beaver Local had dropped out, opening a spot on the offensive line.
"I thought I had a small chance of getting on the team depending on who dropped out, but I never really expected it," Linhart said. "It's a great feeling knowing that you are good enough to play with some of the great players on this team."
Linhart joins his Crestview teammates quarterback Collin Gilbert and tight end Josh McDade on the Ohio squad. While the latter two may have gained more notoriety in Crestview's high-powered offense (45 points per game) their success was made possible by the steady play of Linhart and his fellow linemen. Four Crestview offensive lineman started over 20 games during the last two years.
"I very proud of the way we played as a line," Linhart said. "I loved that we were able to help those guys make all their plays. When you play with two guys who are that athletic it helps you grow as a team."
Linhart said he was most proud of the Rebels 2012 season-his junior year- when they had to usher in five new linemen and a new quarterback (Gilbert) after an 11-2 season the year before. After so many question marks to start the year, all the Rebels did was roll to another 11 win campaign, including the first undefeated regular season in school history.
"That year sticks out more than anything," Linhart said. "We lost a huge group of seniors the year before and we knew it was going to be really tough to replace them. We felt a lot of pressure to step up and we were able to replace them. That was a fun team to be a part of."
During Linhart's two years as a starter, the Rebels went 22-3, continuing a run of dominant teams that has stretched back for a decade. Linhart started only a handful of games that weren't well in hand by the fourth quarter.
"It was a very demanding program," Linhart said. "There was a high standard that you knew you had to live up to. Everyone helped each other out. If someone was struggling, there was always someone there to pick them up. Nobody wanted to let anyone down."
Linhart's favorite team to play during his career was Columbiana, where he routinely went head-to-head with Clipper first-team third-team Div. VI All-Ohio defensive lineman Mike Buzzard, an Ashland recruit. The two will be teammates this week on the Ohio team.
It was always fun to play Columbiana and line up against him," Linhart said. "Even if one team wasn't as good, the games were always intense. Over the last few months he (Buzzard) has gotten a lot bigger and a lot better. I noticed that at practice. He looks like he's ready for college football."
Linhart-who is considering attending Kent State-Salem-will not be following Buzzard, or his two Crestview teammates onto the gridiron in college. He is grateful for the unexpected chance to play one last game.
"I'm not going to play in college like those Collin or Josh," Linhart said. "It's a great feeling knowing I get to play one more time."