Preston Zaleski looks for running room in this file photo. Zaleski and the Knights wrapped the regular season with a 41-7 win on Friday night. (Times Bulletin file photo)
BY SEAN LAFOUNTAINE
Times Bulletin Correspondent
CONVOY - The Crestview Knights concluded their season at home Friday night against the Paulding Panthers. Crestview got off to a quick start and never looked back, on their way to a 41-7 victory. With the win, the Knights secured a share of the Northwest Conference title, as well as a Division VI playoff birth.
Crestview left little doubt as to the outcome of the game. After forcing the Panthers to turn it over on downs, it only took the Knights five plays to convert the turnover into points.
Preston Zaleski found Malcolm Oliver on a streak down the middle of the field for a 57-yard touchdown connection to conclude the short drive. Kameron Grubaugh added the extra point to put Crestview ahead 7-0.
After forcing a Paulding three-and-out, Crestview was again quick to put up points. It took the Knights just over two minutes to drive 69 yards on six plays. On a fourth down play during the drive Crestview lined up in punt formation, but Jordan Miller took the snap as the up man and ran 33 yards to keep the Knight drive alive.
After a 34-yard run by Zaleski up the middle took Crestview down to the Paulding six yard-line, Oliver took care of it from there with a six-yard touchdown run. The extra point put Crestview up 14-0.
Early in the second quarter, Crestview took a commanding 21-0 lead on a Jake Lippi two-yard touchdown run. A 22-yard pass from Zaleski to Isaiah Simerman helped the Knights set up the score.
The Knights put the game away early in the third quarter. Crestview got the ball with good field position and took advantage of it. The Knights gave the ball to Oliver five straight times and marched right down the field. Oliver capped off the drive on a touchdown run from 18 yards out. The point after gave the Knights a 28-0 lead with 8:15 left to play in the third quarter.
The Knights put up two more touchdowns before the Panthers finally broke through late in the fourth quarter. After the Knights lost a fumble on their own 12-yard line, Corbin Edwards took the handoff on the very next play in for a touchdown. Zach Buchman added the extra point to make the final score 41-7.
The Crestview offense had another solid outing, putting up 418 yards of total offense, 326 rushing and 92 passing.
Oliver led the Knights' attack, running the ball 22 times for 147 yards and three touchdowns. He also had two receptions for 63 yards and another touchdown, making his grand total four on the night.
Zaleski was four of six passing for Crestview for 92 yards with one touchdown pass and one interception.
As previously mentioned, the victory secured the Knights a piece of the Northwest Conference title. They will share the championship with the Ada Bulldogs and Delphos Jefferson Wildcats.Crestview coach Jared Owens commented on his teams' accomplishment after the game.
"I'm just really happy for the kids. The last couple of years we've dealt with our share of heartbreak as any team in any sport sometimes does," said Owens. "The main thing is we have stuck together and continued to be hungry, so to see that payoff and get a share of the title on their home field and know we are going to have a chance to play next week is a special feeling."
Not only was it a big night in Convoy because of the team's achievements, but Friday night also signified senior night for the Crestview athletes. Owens commented on the feeling of sending his seniors out with one last home victory.
"Depending on how things fall with playoff positing this is most likely their last game on this field, and they finished off the season 5-0 here at home," said Owens. "That's something we challenged them to do and we knew if we could take care of business here at home and win the majority of the games we would put ourselves in good position in the conference and for the playoffs and that's what we did."
The victory improves the Knights to 8-2 overall and 6-1 in the NWC. At time of print, it was not determined who Crestview's next opponent will be, or where the game will be played.