Rebels take curtain call

COLUMBIANA -After leading one of the most successful four-year runs in school history, five Crestview seniors are getting one more chance to play together on the football field.

When the Ohio squad takes the field Friday in the 34th annual Penn-Ohio Stateline Classic the roster will be dotted with five Rebels, the most representation for any area high school.

Fullback Matt Hardenbrook, running back Nick Blower, tight end Dimitri Gregory, linebacker Kaleb Baker, and lineman Dylan Douglass all contributed to Crestview’s fifth straight Inter-Tri County League title last fall and will try to help Ohio notch their second straight victory.

“There are a lot of other guys who deserved here, too,” Hardenbrook said. “It’s going to be a great opportunity for us to play together one more time.

That the Rebels are so strongly represented should come as no surprise. In addition to an average victory margin of 41 points, Crestview averaged 52.3 points per game and on its way to a school-best 11-1 record and the first undefeated regular season in school history, As a whole, the senior class compiled a record of 41-7 to go with four state playoff victories.

“It seemed like there was a lot of hype around us year after year and we just kept getting better,” Baker said.

“Work ethic was the biggest reason for our success,” Douglass said. “Every year we have guys who want to come to practice and work hard to get better.”

Entering last season, the Rebels faced the challenge of following up a 2011 team that advanced to the first regional championship game in school history. It was an undertaking the seniors were more than ready for.

After a comeback win over Columbiana in the season opener, the Rebels breezed through the rest of their schedule. On some nights the starters would be out of the game by halftime. Many teams that dominant struggle to maintain their edge but Blower said the team’s prior experience made complacency a non-issue.

“There was a strong urge to win on this team every day,” Blower said. “We all hated to lose and everyone was committed to making Crestview the best program it could be.”

“Winning never gets boring,” Gregory said. “Our coaches did a great job getting us focused and ready every week. There was no way to not get excited playing for this team.”

Though suiting up for next week’s game will surely not match the high of playing on Friday nights in the fall, the Rebels consider themselves honored to be taking part.

“It’s a huge honor to be here with four of my teammates,” Douglass said. “It shows that what we did as a team stood out to others. It shows that we left a big impact at Crestview.”