EAST PALESTINE - This time the Crestview Rebels didn't have to go all 48 minutes.
Using a similar offensive and defensive onslaught it has employed all season, the Rebels moved to 9-0 after a 63-0 victory over East Palestine on Friday.
Up 56-0 at the half and with East Palestine losing two key starters early in the game to injury, officials suggested quarters by cut to six minutes at halftime. Both coaches agreed to the suggestion and the game was over before 9 p.m.
Crestview (6-0 in the Inter-Tri County League upper tier) crossed the 500-point barrier for the season (it's at 506 points now) and racked up 451 yards of total offense. East Palestine's offense was limited to 32 yards and two first down.
Despite blowing away the ITCL upper tier competition, the Rebels still have work to do. South Range shares the league lead and the Raiders travel to Crestview on Friday for the upper tier decider.
"This sets up what I think is a meeting between the two best teams in the league," Crestview coach Paul Cusick said. "I fully expected South Range to be right there."
The Rebels are also going for their first 10-0 regular season in school history.
"We put ourselves in a great situation," Cusick said. "I'm not sure if we have ever been 9-0 before. We have a great opportunity, but I told the kids after the game that 10-0 doesn't matter. Winning the league championship is the only thing that matters. If we get that everything else falls into place. That's what we're focusing on."
Crestview was led offensively by Nick Blower's nine carries for 169 yards and two touchdowns. Matt Hardenbrook added touchdown runs of 21 and 3 yards, while Kris Simpson had a 38-yard punt return for a touchdown and also caught a 7-yard touchdown strike from Collin Gilbert.
"It's awesome playing in these sorts of games," Simpson said. "But, I think we need to work hard in practice this week to get better for South Range."
Simpson said he wasn't sure the team would be able to get to this point in the offseason without a lot of things going the team's way.
"I thought we had to work hard in the offseason to get a little better," Simpson said. "I guess we did it."
The news was all bad for the Bulldogs (1-8, 1-5).
East Palestine lost quarterback Luke Cope with an apparent concussion on the second play of the game. Hardenbrook intercepted Cope's pass on that play.
Shortly thereafter, junior lineman Chris Raley exited with a leg injury.
"Those two going out early in the game really took a lot out of us," East Palestine coach Gare Mattes said.
"I respect those seniors over there," Cusick said. "Knowing this is their last game at home and to go out like that, it's tough."
As in other recent weeks, Crestview had another record fall. Kicker Caleb McGath set the school single-season extra point record with his 60th extra point. He's only missed two tries this season and broke the old mark of 58 held by Zack Moore (2011).
"I had some big shoes to fill, but I tried my best," McGath said.
McGath, who already owns a share of the ITCL soccer championship, is also a busy man as he turns around and plays East Palestine again in Div. III sectional soccer game at 1 p.m. today at Crestview High School.
"Sometimes it can get tiring, but most of the time I'm having fun with everything," McGath said. "There are days when I can go to football practice, but then there are days where I have to stay after soccer practice and kick field goals."
- Mattes wanted to clarify the controversial comment regarding the Bulldogs "not having a chance in (heck) at winning this game" he made to this writer earlier in the week.
"I said it just the way I said it," Mattes said. "But, I do want everyone to know that we do work hard to prepare these kids every week to win a football game. We do everything possible and we're going to continue to work and fight for this last game that we hope to win."
The Bulldogs are at Lisbon to close the season.