Future league foes meet tonight

Garfield. Crestview. The two teams plan to see plenty of one another in years to come.

Tonight, they’re Division V, Region 17 quarterfinal opponents as the two play at JAG Field starting at 7.

The two teams will both be in the Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference Gray Tier come 2021.

“I think they’re a great addition to the league,” said Crestview coach Paul Cusick, whose team is 5-1. “Hopefully this is a preview for years to come, that it’s going to be a highly-competitive game. It’s going to be two teams that have that same kind of kids that play hard and get after it. I expect it to be a fourth-quarter game, both teams are going to come out swinging. I expect an old-fashioned football game.”

The two teams met in a regular-season matchup in Garrettsville on Sept. 23, 2016. The G-Men (7-0) beat the Rebels, 41-14. Garfield advanced to a regional final that season, while Crestview finished 3-7.

“There’s not a lot of familiarity between us right now, being that we only played one time,” Garfield coach Mike Moser said. “It’s going to set the stage for, hopefully, a good rivalry to come in the next couple of years.”

Offensively, Crestview is balanced with Anthony Cusick, Paul’s son, throwing for more than 700 yards and 10 touchdowns. Ethan Powell and William Hardenbrook have rushed for about 600 and 500 yards apiece. Hardenbrook and Brandon Yanssens each have about 300 yards receiving.

Anthony Cusick helps give a good balance to the Rebels attack.

“We kind of preach to Anthony in basketball terms of being a point guard, spread the ball around,” Paul Cusick said. “One thing that evolved last year is we had a lot of kids that can make plays. If you’re just turning around, handing the ball off, those guys aren’t making plays. A good way to do that is get the ball out to them. Anthony is doing a good job of that, getting the ball to our playmakers.

“That takes the burden off of Ethan and allows him to get some big plays. He can’t be just the focus.”

Garfield, which has amassed almost 2,000 yards rushing, counters with its play-action pass. It was Cardinal Mooney’s Waterloo during last weekend’s playoff matchup in Garrettsville.

Paul Cusick said countering that play-action pass is something the Rebels have to do in order to win. Crestview has held opponents to seven or less points after losing its opener, 20-17, to Champion.

“You have to keep working on your defense being disciplined,” he said. “As much as they like to run the ball, it lulls you to sleep — run, run, run. They do a good job with that play action and go over the top. They don’t throw it a lot, but they do make big plays in the passing game. You have to really get your kids to focus and understand that’s one of their weapons. You have to try and take something away.

“That is something we have been focusing on, making them understand, showing it on film, working on it over and over in practice so they can see it and hopefully get used to it.”

Crestview, on the other hand, likes quick-strike plays. The Rebels might have to take what they can get out of the spread offense.

“Against a team like this you have to take 4, 5 yard gains and be good with it,” Cusick said. “In a spread style of offense you don’t realize those are OK plays. I think that’s the key. Keep the chains moving. Get those first downs. It does keep the ball out of their hands.

“That’s the one thing offensively, they’re going to grind it out. They’re going to run the ball and take some time off the clock. Offensively, we have to take advantage of our opportunities.”


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)