Crestview junior Wade Sheets (3) looks for running room between two Hicksville defenders during a football game in Convoy on Friday, Sept. 1, 2017. Sheets leads the Knights in catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns while also posting nine interceptions on defense this season. (DHI Media/Tina Eley, file)
Crestview junior Wade Sheets (3) looks for running room between two Hicksville defenders during a football game in Convoy on Friday, Sept. 1, 2017. Sheets leads the Knights in catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns while also posting nine interceptions on defense this season. (DHI Media/Tina Eley, file)
CONVOY — If head coach Jared Owens and his staff aren’t careful, they’re going to ruin Crestview’s reputation as a basketball school. The Knights will host Ansonia on Friday night, marking a fifth consecutive football playoff appearance for Owens and crew.

The Division VII, Region 26 matchup between the top-ranked Knights (9-1) and the eighth-seeded Tigers (6-4) kicks off at 7:30 p.m. on Friday night in Convoy. With an experienced group of players, Owens said his team has maintained strong focus during preparations for Friday night.

“Our focus has been really good; you get the feeling like our kids are just dialed in,” Owens said. “Friday just can’t get here soon enough, because they just want to keep playing football.

“It’s an increase in intensity,” Owens added. “You can tell what time of year it is just from the energy and enthusiasm, and the intensity and focus that kids are bringing to practice.”

While Crestview looks like the better team with a cursory glance at the records, Ansonia enters this contest riding a 5-game winning streak. The Tigers have outscored their opponents 247-57 during that stretch.

The Tigers run a wing-t offense –the same as Spencerville and Delphos Jefferson– and average fewer than 10 pass attempts per game. Ansonia has had some success through the air (909 total passing yards, 8 TD, 4 INT), but the bulk of the offense has come from a ground game that chews up nearly 300 yards per evening. The impressive thing about that is the number of weapons Ansonia utilizes. Four different Tigers players have rushed for at least 300 yards this season, but none have gained 800. Despite that diversity, Owens said his team’s preparation has been second to none.

“The scout team has given us as good of a look as they have this year so far,” Owens said. “That’s hugely important; all 36 guys on our roster are important to winning this game this week, and they’ve bought into that.

“We know what we can see in films, but it’s hard to judge speed on video, and it’s hard to gauge the competition on tape,” Owens said. “We’re trying to scheme for tendencies. They’ll be in the wing-t, so we’ll have to rely on formation recognition, but ultimately we’re looking to ourselves to keep getting better.”

The Knights come into the game having won four straight since a Week Six loss to Spencerville, which was one of four playoff teams on the Crestview schedule this season.

“I think [our schedule] gets us ready to play in big games and to play in big game atmospheres,” Owens said. “Our Spencerville week, our Jefferson week, our Ada week, our Hicksville week, our Wayne Trace week, those are playoff-caliber teams that we’re playing and playoff-caliber atmospheres. You’ve got to prepare really well and play really well to win those games. This won’t be the first big game we’ve played in this year.”

The bulk of Crestview’s offensive success this season has come through the air, as junior quarterback Drew Kline has thrown for 1,853 yards and 18 touchdowns this season against only six interceptions. His favorite target is classmate Wade Sheets, who has caught 44 passes for 849 yards and 11 scores. Crestview has also had success on the ground, as Kline (792 yards rushing, 11 TDs) and senior Trevor Gibson (519 yards, 10 TDs) lead a ground game that has averaged 171 yards per night. That ground attack may be even more vital on Friday, especially if the weather resembles last weekend’s cold and rainy conditions.

“We’ll have to adapt to whatever the weather conditions are going to be, like we were able to do last week (a 36-22 win against Paulding), but it’s always really important to try to establish our running game,” Owens said. “We need to establish the line of scrimmage, take care of the football, and tackle well. With their quick-hitting style of offense, we’ve got to hold our ground and not get moved out of the way and be able to make tackles.”

Presale tickets for Friday night’s playoff game will be on sale Wednesday evening from 5:30p.m. - 7 p.m. in the Crestview High School office, and Thursday and Friday from 7:45 a.m. - 3:15 p.m. in the A.D. office. Presale price is $8 for all tickets.

All tickets at the gate are $9. There will be a $2 parking fee for this game.