New Waterford, OHIO (WKBN) – The Crestview Rebels turned around a tough first half of the season to finish in second place of the AAC with a hard-fought 16-7 win over the LaBrae Vikings Friday night. The win closes the Rebels season with a 5-5 mark, 5-1 in the AAC behind Brookfield. The Vikings end the season with a 3-7 record, 2-4 in the league.
“I think it was just a matter of us being so young early on. We got the experience and the kids kept working hard each and every day in practice and we got better. I have to give credit to our coaches and our players that we kept it up and we got better,” Rebels head coach Paul Cusick said of the second-half turnaround.
“You have two proud football programs that have that happen to be having rough years, but we come to play every week and we know Crestview comes to play every week. I think that was on display,” Vikings head coach John Ameni said. “It was a very hard-fought, physical game. They just made some more plays down the stretch than we did.”
The big play that the Rebels made was with 4:23 remaining in the third quarter when Rebels H-back William Hardenbrook took a sweep run around right end, found a crease and raced 60-yards down the right sideline for a score. With the extra point being blocked, the Rebels held a 13-7 lead.
“I saw a guy coming off to my left and I just gave it all that I had as I always do,” Hardenbrook described the play. “I made the play for my team.”
“William is a great athlete,” Cusick said. “However we have wanted to use him, we have been able to use him. He is great as a receiver, he runs with the ball hard and he made a play for us that we needed.”
The Rebels defense would also come up with a big play when the Vikings drove to the Rebels 4-yard line with just under two minutes remaining in the third quarter. The snap from center would be fumbled and then booted through the end zone, resulting in a touchback and a turnover for the Vikings.
“We have had pockets of success, we moved the football all year long, but unfortunately we have had a lot of self-inflicted wounds,” Armeni said of his team. “When you play good football teams, those come back to bite you, and that’s what happened tonight.”
“Our defense has been playing really well. I think we have given up just one touchdown in the last fourteen or fifteen quarters, so we have played some good defense down the stretch,” Cusick praised his defense in the last four games.
The Rebels would seal the game with 1:19 when Yanssens would boot a 21-yard field goal, giving them a two-possession lead at 16-7. The Rebels ate five and half minutes off the clock on the 12 play drive before the points.
The Rebels and Vikings would be tied at 7-7 at halftime as the Rebels scored on their first possession as Ethan Powell scored on a 7-yard run at the 6:24 mark of the first quarter. The Vikings answered with a 4-yard run by Aiden Stephens with 8:23 remaining in the second quarter.
Yansens and Powell would each rush for 117 yards on the night, while Yanssens completed 6 of 8 passes for 50 yards. The Rebels would rack up 349 total yards on the night while the Vikings had 160.
“All these guys are back next year, so it’s a chance to set the tone for the off-season and where we want to move forward. So we did what we needed to do,” Cusick said of the Rebels second-place finish in the AAC.
“This win is enormous because this is going to lead into our next season,” Hardenbrook remarked. “Coming off a four-game win streak, we’re going to use it as momentum for next year.”
Devin Carter would lead the Vikings with 105 yards rushing in the game. He would also record an interception on defense.
CR – Ethan Powell 7 run (Brandon Yanssens Kick)
LA – Aidan Stephens 5 run (Kick Good)
CR – William Hardenbrook 60 run (Kick Blocked)
CR – Brandon Yanssens 21 Field Goal