Photos by Nick Mays
Vindicator staff report
Although the Rebels are out-scoring opponents 34 to 13, Crestview coach Paul Cusick isn’t relying, solely, on those numbers to speak for his team tonight against Ursuline.
Instead, the 11th-year coach is counting on the solid production from an offense that has 3,172 yards on the ground and 1,370 in the air — and the grit of a defense that is immeasurable.
“We expected that we would eventually play them somewhere, so I think our kids are looking forward to it and it’s a great opportunity for us,” Cusick said of Ursuline. “It’s an opportunity to showcase our program.
“We can’t be in awe of who we’re playing. We’ve just got to be focused and go out and compete.”
While quarterback Carter Hill’s statistics are eye-catching, Andrew Mayer (6-21‚Ñ2, 172) and Adam Britton are running backs with 725 and 635 yards, respectively.
The 6-foot-0, 188-pound Hill has gained 1,101 yards and thrown for 1,344.
“Being able to mix things up this year instead of just relying on one or two guys and being a predominately run team has helped us,” Cusick said.
With the graduation of state high jump champion Jakob Leon in June, Crestview has gone from the heights of a 6-4 receiver to a shorter corps of catchers: Adam Coppock (30 receptions for 491), Tristan Reynolds (20 for 280 yards) and Britton (14 for 264 yards).
Coppock is 5-6, 137, Reynolds is 5-61‚Ñ2, 152 and Britton is 5-81‚Ñ2, 162.
“We don’t have any of those big, tall guys this year,” said Cusick, who commented on the challenge for the Rebels’ offense.
“We’re going to have to keep mixing things up and, when there are some opportunities, we have to take advantage of it and not miss,” he said. “Defensively, we need to be very sound and not make any major mistakes because they’ve got speed all over the place and can break a big play. So, we’re going to have to be very assignment-sound and disciplined.”
Reynolds is Crestview’s kicker and Kody Simpson has eight punts inside the 10-yard line.
Ursuline coach Dan Reardon acknowledged Hill as Crestview’s hub.
“He’s definitely their best player and leader and he makes things happen, offensively,” he said. “I think they do a good job mixing up the run and pass.
“Defensively, they’re a team that makes you work for everything you get,” Reardon said. “I don’t think it’s possible to win 10 games without having a good defense.”
Playing its 10th straight game on an artificial surface, Ursuline’s backfield will contain QB Paul Kempe and RB Allen Jones. The Irish receivers are Akise Teague, Chris Collins, Jeff Podolsky, Nico Irizarry, Jake Dragovich and Aaron Edwards.
Podolsky, the kicker, is also a buzzsaw as safety on defense. The 5-7, 165-pound junior is one of a handful with two interceptions.
“A great matchup between two local teams who happen to be playing this late in the season very close to home,” Reardon said of the game. “It has added emphasis because it’s two local teams going at it.”