The Van Wert County Courthouse

Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022

Season in Review: 2021 Crestview Knights

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

CONVOY — It was a season that began with three straight wins and ended with a heartbreaking loss.

In between, there were notable injuries to deal with, two comeback wins, a one point loss and tough losses to teams still alive in the postseason. That was the 2021 season in a nutshell for Crestview (6-5, 3-4 NWC).

Carson Hunter (10) and Isaac Kline (32) are juniors and will be back to lead the Knights in 2022. Bob Barnes/Van Wert independent

After wins over Parkway, Hicksville and Wayne Trace, the endured a loss to Allen East, rallied to beat Delphos Jefferson and Bluffton, before suffering losses to Columbus Grove and a 29-28 loss to Spencerville. That was followed by a win over Ada then a loss to Leipsic in the regular season finale and a tough 13-7 loss to Lima Central Catholic in the opening round of the Division VII Region 26 playoffs.

All told, it was a successful season for the Knights and their first year head coach James Lautzenheiser, who had the daunting task of replacing a graduated backfield that had accounted for nearly 3,000 yards of offense.

“I was pleased with the production that many of our first-time starters were able to provide in the offensive, defensive, and special teams phases of the game,” Lautzenheiser said. “We had quite a few team leaders step forward from previous roles as backups or rotational players in order to lead as full-time starters this year. It’s exciting when you see players that have waited patiently for their turn able to contribute in key areas for the team.”

Due to injuries, the Knights used two different starting quarterbacks during the season. JJ Ward completed 50-of-74 passes for 870 yards, seven touchdowns and four interceptions and Carson Hunter came on to complete 52-of-112 passes for 896 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Isaac Kline finished the season as the team’s leading ground gainer with 127 carries for 572 yards and a pair of touchdowns, followed by Nick Helt (89-447, eight touchdowns). Rontae Jackson led the team in receiving yards with 506 on 19 catches while Kellin Putman had a team high 17 catches for 271 yards.

The 2021 Knights had 13 seniors on the roster – Helt, Ward, Jackson, Hunter Rothgeb, Ryan Sowers, Ayden Lichtensteiger, Kaygen Boyle, Kaden Kreischer, Trevon Barton, Noah Riggenbach, Mason Penix, Dylan Barricklow and Landin Friemoth – a group that will be sorely missed.

“Our 13 seniors have not always had a reputation for vocal leadership, but have always done their very best for the program,” Lautzenheiser said. “It was satisfying to see them grow up throughout the season and develop an identity for vocal and physical leadership for our younger players. We leaned on this group of seniors, and they shone brightest in the final two games of the season.”

Kellin Putman led the Knights in receptions during the 2021 season. Bob Barnes photo

“I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to work with these players and welcome them into our community of alumni Knights. They provided excellent examples to their younger peers on how to prepare in the offseason and push throughout the grind of a season. I know that this energy will carry over into their winter and spring sports seasons this school year.”

Lautzenheiser also praised his staff of assistants – Jake Harmon, Ben Schamp, Jack Hemmelgarn, Kory Lichtensteiger, Levi Orsbon, Colten Royer and Dylan Henry – for their off-season and in-season work.

“Our team was blessed with seven outstanding assistant coaches that poured themselves into weekly game plans, practice sessions, film breakdowns, and player development activities throughout the season,” Lautzenheiser said.” I was fortunate to be able to work with these men, and only could have done the job with their patience and support. There’s no amount of money in the world that I could pay them for the time that they took away from their own families in order to help our players develop and grow as student-athletes and leaders for our community. I appreciate their sacrifice of time, effort and energy for our program and Crestview community.”

With the 2021 season in the books, attention will soon be turned to 2022.

“Each year at our end-of-season awards banquet, we focus on a Commitment to Success for our offseason development program,” Lautzenheiser stated. “We will meet with our student-athletes to discuss their experiences this season, help them identify goals for growth and development, and encourage them to focus on pathways to individual and team success for the upcoming season. We know that we have a number of positions that will need to be addressed next year and fortunately, we have a large group of rising underclassmen that have the potential to compete for those jobs between December-June during our off-season development program.”

“Our players know that we push reset on the depth chart at the end of the season. It is their responsibility to move their names to the top of the list by the time we begin organized team activities next June.”

As for the fans, after a season with numbers restrictions, they were back in full force, ready to root for the Knights win or lose.

“Our players and coaches are grateful for the energy that our fans provide throughout the week and on Friday nights and we look forward to seeing them again when we host Rockford in Week No. 1 at Convoy.”

POSTED: 11/05/21 at 3:56 am. FILED UNDER: Sports