The Van Wert County Courthouse

Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022

Week No. 8 preview: Ada at Crestview

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

CONVOY — After a shutout loss to three-time defending NWC champion Columbus Grove in Week No. 7 and last Friday’s heartbreaking 29-28 loss to Spencerville, the Crestview Knights have firmly set their sights on the final two games of the regular season.

Ada (1-7, 0-5 NWC) will come to down for homecoming on Friday, followed by the regular season finale against Leipsic and in all likelihood, at least one playoff game.

Crestview quarterback JJ Ward passed for 285 yards during last Friday’s loss to Spencerville. Bob Barnes/file photo

A homecoming victory against Ada would clinch a winning season for Crestview (5-3, 2-3 NWC) and could help springboard the Knights into a home playoff game in Week No. 11. Crestview currently sits at No. 9 in Division VII, Region 26. The top eight teams in each region will host a first round playoff game.

“Our coaching staff recognizes that our team is at an important crossroads over the next two weeks of competition,” Crestview head coach James Lautzenheiser said. “We have all of the celebrations of homecoming activities and senior night to anticipate and two big contests to prepare for. The goal continues to be connected to our ability to work to improve as individual football players and as a team.”

“We know that there are a lot of scenarios ahead of us, and our ability to participate in the OHSAA playoffs and possibly host a game comes down to our ability to focus and execute in practice and on Friday nights,” Lautzenheiser added.

“There is a clear expectation from our coaching staff to our senior leaders and our varsity players that we have to clean up the penalties and small mental mistakes this week. At this point in the season, we have to find a way to clean up the unnecessary, avoidable penalties and mental miscues. We have to transition from a good team with potential to a team that is craving excellence in every next repetition at practice and within games. If we can do that over the next two weeks, we have a shot at an exciting postseason.”

In the loss to Spencerville, the Knights had two turnovers plus eight penalties for 45 yards. JJ Ward returned from injury last week and completed 15-of-20 passes for 285 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, while accounting for a score on the ground as well. Despite missing multiple games, Ward has completed 50-of-74 passes for 870 yards, seven touchdowns and four interceptions and he leads an offense that averages 339 yards per game, tops among all NWC schools.

“Crestview poses the same problem as everyone else does for us,” Ada head coach Toby Smith said. “They are an established program that knows what it takes to be successful. In order for us to compete with them we will have to be consistent in what we are supposed to do.”

“When adversity hits during the game we will need to respond with discipline and belief in ourselves,” Smith added. “If we can do those things we will be in position to be competitive during the entire game.”

Ada’s lone win of the season came in Week No. 3, 42-30 over Hardin Northern, but that hasn’t deterred Smith.

“Going into the season we knew it was going to be a work in progress,” Smith explained. “We are pleased with the progress we have seen throughout the season. The part that we want to see dramatic improvement on is our consistency. When we become more consistent in everything that we do we will be in position to win games.”

Quarterback Kadin Phipps has completed 45-of-76 passes for 415 yards, three touchdowns and five interceptions and he’s Ada’s leading rusher with 139 carries for 482 yards and five scores. He leads an offense that averages 239 yards and 16.3 points per game. Defensively, the Bulldogs allow nearly 44 points and 364 yards per game, including 237 on the ground.

“Ada has not won a lot of football games this year but they aren’t driving all the way to Convoy to lay down at our homecoming celebration,” Lautzenheiser stated. “They have the ability to run the ball and throw the ball on the edges and they are hungry for a win. When you face a team that is in desperation mode, you can anticipate the unexpected in all three phases of the game. That means new offensive formations and plays, changes in defensive personnel or scheme, and aggressive special teams play calling.”

The two teams did not play last season. Crestview has won three straight against the Bulldogs.

POSTED: 10/13/21 at 3:54 am. FILED UNDER: Sports