Paul Cusick coaches in the Inter Tri County League where more well known guys like Dan Yeagley (South Range) and Bob Spaite (Columbiana) have plied their trades for the past decade or longer.
Cusick begins his 13th year at Crestview High and like the more high profile coaches in the league, he has gone about building his own standout program that has had the upper hand over those traditionally strong teams the last couple of years.
With back-to-back 9-1 seasons and trips to the postseason, Cusick’s Rebels don’t have to take a back seat to anyone.
Last year, the Rebels advanced to the second round of the playoffs and had to face eventual state champion Ursuline which created a lot of buzz in Crestview and gave the program even more credibility.
“We knew what we were getting into going up against a team like Ursuline,” Cusick said. “I was proud of how are guys didn’t back down. They played hard. Athletically we were overmatched but we went out and competed and that will make us a better team this year.”
Cusick has an 84-39 record at Crestview and is 92-61 overall (he coached three years at Leetonia).
The two-time defending ITCL Tier One champions, Crestview has 21 lettermen returning including standouts Carter Hill and Adam Coppock and have started this season with a 2-1 record.
After losing a tough game to St. Clairsville in the opener, the Rebels rebounded with two wins and open league play Friday against Springfield.
Q. You have been here for 12 years. What’s it been like to coach here at Crestview?
A. Well the good thing is that there has always been a good tradition. The program was put on the map in the late ’80’s and my goal was to hopefully take it to the next level. We want to be a league champion year-in and year-out and advance to the playoffs. Each year we want to get better. We want to get over the hump. Last year, we made it to the second round of the playoffs. Now we have to get past that.
Q. What was the program like when you took it over?
A. It was a good program in the late ’80s and won some championships and made the playoffs one year. I had been an assistant here before I went to coach at Leetonia so I was familiar with the program. I walked into a good situation.
Q. You’ve had a lot of success the last two years with 9-1 records and a pair of league championships. What’s been the key to your recent success?
A. Our kids really work hard in the off-season. They are sold on what we try to accomplish in the off-season. We have great numbers for a small school and that translates into finding some good football players and that makes my job easy.
Q. You coach in a league that has maybe some better known coaches like Dan Yeagley and Bob Spaite. What is like to compete against those coaches?
A. I’ve known those coaches for quite awhile now and I know those guys well. We are all friends. It’s more of a friendly competition and we talk year-round so there is nothing bitter or any ego trips. It’s more about our kids and the programs and not about us.
Q. What’s it take to build a good solid program in a small community like Crestview?
A. You have to have good kidsand good community support and we have both. I have been fortunate enough to have the same core coaches for the past 12 seasons and that builds continuity and consistency which is vital to a program like ours.
Q. How would you describe your coaching style?
A. I think I’m a little bit of a mix of old school and new school. We are as a coaching staff as old school as you can be nowadays and I think our kids respond to that. The kids are different now in the 12 years I’ve been here. That doesn’t mean they are any better or any worse. They are just different. We are hard on our kids. We get after them alot and they seem to respond to that.
Q. When people in the community talk Crestview football, what do you hope they say about your teams?
A. I hope they are proud that our kids play hard. That our teams are in every game. They play to win and they win with class. I think that is what our guys do. We don’t have a lot of egos around here. Our guys are more about winning games and they don’t care who gets their names in the paper.
Q. What does Paul Cusick do when he’s not coaching football?
A. Nothing. I prefer to do nothing at all except maybe watch college football. I’m a big Notre Dame and Ohio State fan.
Interview by Chuck Housteau.