By Tom Williams
Crestview High football coach Paul Cusick wasn’t afraid to reach into the Rebels’ bag of tricks in securing their fourth straight Inter Tri-County League Tier One championship.
On the first play from scrimmage on Friday, Collin Gilbert took a pitch then hit unguarded wide receiver Nathan Climo for a 52-yard score.
Then Matt Hardenbrook recovered an onside kick, setting up another scoring drive as the Rebels defeated South Range, 34-19.
“[This one] feels better,” said quarterback Adam Coppock who rushed for 102 yards and passed for 101 as Crestview (8-1, 6-0) rolled to its eighth straight victory. “We’ve been playing together since third grade and I think we’ve got a chemistry going.
“And I think it speaks volumes for our coaching staff,” Coppock said.
Cusick said he treasures being able to repeat.
“That’s our goal every year,” Cusick said. “I don’t think people appreciate how hard it is to stay on top. I think it’s harder to stay there.”
Gilbert said he decided to throw when he said the Raiders cornerback move up to guard for a run.
“It was a big play to come out with,” Gilbert said. “We didn’t win pretty but a win’s a win. South Range always plays us tough.”
Clima said he was aware how alone he was after he made a move past a defender.
“Collin threw a great ball and there was nice blocking,” said Clima who wasn’t touched after he caught the ball at the 20.
Cusick’s next gamble also paid off as Zack Moore’s pooch kick was recovered by Hardenbrook at the South Range 33. Six plays later, Coppock scored on a 2-yard run for a 14-0 lead.
“Crestview is good,” South Range coach Dan Yeagley said. “We knew we had to play a perfect game against them and we didn’t play that perfect game. They are a very good playoff team, they are going to do well.”
In the second quarter, Nick Blower scored on a 39-yard run while Moore kicked field goals of 32 and 24 yards for a 27-7 lead at halftime.
“We wanted to come out aggressive,” Cusick said. “I was worried our guys playing not to lose instead of playing to win. [Those plays] kind of kick-started things.”
Blower rushed 17 times for 129 yards, giving 1,114 for the season.
Alex Dickey rushed 11 times for 145 yards for the Raiders (4-5, 3-3). He scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The first came on a 69-yard run. He also caught an 18-yard scoring toss from quarterback Ross Stoffer, who completed 11 of 27 passes for 155 yards.