The Van Wert County Courthouse

Wednesday, May. 31, 2023

Knights, Bearcats ready for Round 2

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent sports editor

CONVOY — While both teams had hopes of being in Friday’s Northwest Conference championship game, it simply didn’t work out that way.

Crestview (2-2) kept pace with No. 1 seed Columbus Grove but fell 38-31 in the semifinals, while Spencerville (3-1) was shut out by Allen East 17-0, setting the stage for a rematch between the Knights and the Bearcats. The two teams met in the revised season opener and were tied 14-14 at halftime, but Spencerville scored three unanswered touchdowns in the second half and won 35-14. 

The Knights ‘D’ will have to slow Spencerville’s running game. Bob Barnes photo

Those results mean Columbus Grove and Allen East will meet for the conference title on Friday, while Crestview will host Spencerville in the third place game.

“As a football team we are excited to test ourselves against quality competition,” Crestview head coach Jared Owens said. “That is what Spencerville is, a disciplined, well-coached team, so we are excited to have the opportunity to see how much better we have gotten since week No. 1.”

“We have improved in our understanding of our offense, defense, and special teams assignments,” Owens continued. “We are in better all-around condition as a team, and I feel like our experience gained over the last few weeks has given our players more confidence.”

“Anytime you get the chance to compete it’s important,” Spencerville head coach Chris Sommers said. “We are working to get better and improve, and playing very good opponents helps that. Crestview is a very good opponent.’  

One thing that hasn’t changed for either team – they like to run the ball and they both do it well.

Led by a more-than-solid offensive line and running backs Brody Brecht and Logan Gerardot, the Knights are the No. 1 rushing team in the NWC, averaging 315 yards per game on the ground. Brecht is the second leading rusher in the conference with 711 yards and seven touchdowns on 79 carries, while Gerardot 431 yards and six touchdowns on 43 carries. 

“They are a very well coached physical football team,” Sommers said of Crestview. “They play extremely hard for four quarters and anytime you play them you will find where you are at as a team.”

Meanwhile, the Bearcats are the second leading rushing team in the NWC at 286.5 yards per game. Gunner Grigsby is fourth among conference rushers with 95 carries for 493 yards and five touchdowns. Dale Smith has 264 yards and a pair of touchdowns on just 24 carries, while DJ Bowens has 30 carries for 202 yards and two scores. 

“I think the biggest challenge is how quickly everything hits for them,” Owens explained. “They don’t need much of a crease to make a big play. And, that will be key for us to be able to win this game, not giving up the big play.”

Not to be overlooked – in addition to being the top two rushing teams in the NWC, they also field the top two defenses among conference teams. Spencerville is No. 1, allowing only 172 yards per game, including just 73 per game on the ground, while Crestview allows 240 yards per outing. The Bearcats are second in points allowed, giving up 14 per game, while the Knights are third at 18 points per game.

“I think defensively we are getting better, understanding our roles and getting more players involved,” Sommers said. “It’s really been a team effort.”

“I think we are getting contributions from guys we expect to be good for us,” Owens said of his team. “I think that there are some players on our team who have been solid, have the potential to give us even more. We challenge all our players to continue to play with confidence and be the best at their role they can be.”

After Friday’s rematch, there’s at least a small possibility the two teams could meet a third time in the playoffs at some point, as both teams are in Division VII, Region 26.

POSTED: 09/30/20 at 3:48 am. FILED UNDER: Sports