Van Wert’s Nicholas Krugh picks-off a Crestview pass in front of intended receiver Malcolm Oliver during the first half of Friday’s scrimmage between the two schools. Krugh returned the interception 60 yards for a touchdown, one of two defensive scores for the Cougars. (DHI Media/John Parent)
Van Wert’s Nicholas Krugh picks-off a Crestview pass in front of intended receiver Malcolm Oliver during the first half of Friday’s scrimmage between the two schools. Krugh returned the interception 60 yards for a touchdown, one of two defensive scores for the Cougars. (DHI Media/John Parent)
By John Parent
DHI Media Sports Editor
sports@timesbulletin.com
CONVOY — In the final preseason tuneup before high school football kicks off in earnest next weekend, Van Wert scored two defensive touchdowns and forced six Crestview turnovers en route to a 41-14 route of the Knights on Friday night.
Just three plays into the contest, Van Wert junior Jake Schaufelberger forced Crestview quarterback Preston Zaleski out of the pocket. When Zaleski threw off his back foot to the flat, Van Wert corner Kris Hart stepped in front of the pass for the interception.
Four plays later, Cougar quarterback Colin Smith carried the ball into the end zone from eight yards out to get the scoring started.
Crestview fought back, getting great field position thanks to an Isaiah Kline kickoff return of 36 yards. On the eighth play of the series, it was Kline who paid it off, catching an 8-yard pass from Zaleski in the front corner of the endzone for a 7-7 score.


On the next Knight possession, Zaleski again tried the flat, but this time Cougar Nicholas Krugh came up with the pick and raced 60 yards down field for the touchdown.
“Since we switched defenses, we’ve been really good against the run, but more so against the pass, when teams have had to do that,” Cougar head coach Keith Recker noted. “I really feel good (about) where we’re at defensively right now.”
The Knights ran the ball up and down the field in the opening half, gaining 19 yards on a run by Malcom Oliver to the right side and another 13 when Crestview ran the same play to the left on the next snap. Zaleski dashed 68 yards with 3 minutes to play in the first period, moving the ball from the Crestview 10 to the Cougar 22. Two plays later, however, Van Wert’s Ryan Stoller came up with a loose ball on a Knight fumble.
Though Crestview knotted it at 14-14 on a Zaleski keeper in the second, Smith and the Cougars would score twice before the half came to an end. Smith hit Quincey Salcido on a 56-yard strike for a 21-14 lead, then found Nick Gutierrez from 19 yards away for a 28-14 halftime score.
The Cougars put the game away in the second half, using another defensive score to erase any doubt. After Crestview’s Payton Knittle blocked a Cougar punt, the Knights looked poised to strike, but Marcel Salcido came up with a strip and outran the Knights pursuit for a 90-yard fumble return for a touchdown. Gutierrez caught another touchdown midway through the fourth on a pass from reserve quarterback Caleb Fetzer.
During the varsity portion of the contest, Crestview lost the turnover battle by a 6-0 margin.
“That was the Achilles’ heel tonight,” Crestview head coach Jared Owens explained. “A lot of fumbled snaps, interceptions. We didn’t deal with the heat very well; things got slippery and we didn’t deal with that very well.”
Crestview hosts Parkway next week to open the 2014 season while the Cougars welcome Bryan to Eggerss Satdium.
“I feel like we’ve got some pieces to the puzzle,” Owens added, looking back on the preseason. “We’ve just got to try to put it together before next week.”