Crestview’s defense, led by senior Trevor Gibson (22), bottled up a powerful Ansonia rushing attack during the opening round of the playoffs last weekend. The Knights will face another stiff test against Minster this weekend. (DHI Media/Tina Eley)
Crestview’s defense, led by senior Trevor Gibson (22), bottled up a powerful Ansonia rushing attack during the opening round of the playoffs last weekend. The Knights will face another stiff test against Minster this weekend. (DHI Media/Tina Eley)
CONVOY — Minutes after Crestview disposed on eighth-seeded Ansonia on Friday night in the opening round of the Division VII, Region 28 playoffs, speculation began on where the top-seeded Knights would play their next game. On Sunday, Crestview got the news it had hoped for: a trip to Spartan Stadium in Lima.

Crestview (10-1) will face Minster (No. 4 seed, 7-4) at 7:30 p.m. on Friday night on a field where the Knights have had a history of playoff success.

“Of all of the places we could have gone, [Spartan Stadium] was the place we would like to end up,” Crestview head coach Jared Owens said. “The facility is great, and it is a place that we’ve played a few times over the years, so making that trip won’t be new to us. It’s a location we were hoping to have the opportunity to play at.”

Awaiting the Knights is a Minster team riding a 4-game winning steak, including a 40-24 win over Fort Loramie last weekend. In that game, the Wildcats led 40-0 at halftime before allowing Loramie to score 24 straight points once the game was all but decided.

“We have a pretty good idea of some of the things they’d like to develop. From what we can see [on video], they run a lot through their quarterback [Jared Huelsman]. He’s a really nice player; he’s big and physical and runs the ball well,” Owens said. “They’ve got athletes on the outside and a strong running back and a solid offensive line. They’ll put a lot of pressure on our defense.”

Huelsman was named a first-team all-Midwest Athletic Conference selection at both quarterback and outside linebacker.

When on defense, Minster poses additional problems for Crestview.

“As far as playing their keys and their roles, they’re as disciplined as we’ve seen this year on defense,” Owens said. “I think it will be a really good challenge for us; there are no bad teams left this deep into the season. We’re playing a really good one this week, and we look forward to the challenge.”

Minster’s wins have been impressive, with two wins against Fort Loramie, and wins versus fellow playoff teams Anna (20-7) and Delphos St. John’s 41-14. The Wildcats’ losses came in four consecutive weeks, with three of the four on the road (At Marion Local 21-7, at St. Henry 30-7 and at Coldwater 17-16). Friday’s game will be the eighth contest this season in which Minster has faced a playoff team. For Crestview, the Wildcats represent the sixth such opponent.

The Knights have a decorated quarterback of their own, as junior Drew Kline is the Northwest Conference Offensive Player of the Year. Like Minster, the Knights want to run the football, and have done so successfully with senior back Trevor Gibson and junior Derick Dealey. When the Knights have gone to the air, junior Wade Sheets has been elite, entering the game just five yards shy of 1,000 on the season. Sheets also has intercepted 10 passes this year on defense, including a 50-yard interception return for a touchdown against Ansonia last week.

Where the Knights may have an advantage on Friday is on special teams, where Crestview has excelled all season long. Kicker Dylan Hicks has been steady, and the return teams, featuring senior speedster Charles Stefanek, have accounted for five touchdowns this season. Additionally, the coverage units have routinely made big plays.

“We were able to make several big plays, momentum-changing plays, in special teams last Friday , and that’s something that every year we try to sell as being an important part of the game,” Owens said. “For whatever reason, it has really clicked with our guys this year and they have bought into that. They’ve taken the game plans we’ve tried to come up with and run with them.”