By Cort Reynolds
Ada Herald Writer
ADA - Northwest Conference tri-champion Crestview handed fellow champ Ada its worst loss in week seven this fall since the end of the 2007 season, 63-12.
But the Bulldogs (8-3), who shared the league title with the Knights and Delphos Jefferson at 6-1, hope to gain a measure of revenge Friday night and advance to the region 20 finals for the first time since 2009 when they get another shot at the Knights in Wapakoneta.
Six years ago standout Zac Dysert was injured and playing wideout instead of quarterback, and Delphos Jefferson beat up the visiting Bulldogs 41-7 for the worst loss of Mike Fell's seven-year tenure.
After defeating Delphos Jeff 27-22 on the road for the second time in three weeks last Friday to avoid a revenge loss in the playoff's first round, Ada hopes to turn the tables and avenge that Knight blowout when they face Crestview (9-2) at Wapak.
In 2007, the Bulldogs rebounded from a late injury-induced slump to advance all the way to the state semifinals before falling in overtime. Ada hopes for a similar bounce-back this time around, starting with a rematch victory over the high-powered Knights.
But it won't be easy, to say the least.
"Crestview is a really good team," said Ada first-year head coach Bob Olwin. "They beat us and LCC (48-35 in round one of the playoffs), but lost to Delphos Jefferson (34-21) and Wayne Trace (54-41). They do a lot of things well.
"Their quarterback does a great job running the option, they have a great tailback in Malcolm Oliver, they have a great receiver and a good field goal kicker, as well as a good defense," he continued.
He noted that both teams have athletic, elusive quarterbacks who are expert at extending plays to make demoralizing big gains often out of nothing, so that aspect of the game "is a wash."
"They score a lot of points (41.4 ppg) but people have been scoring a lot on them too," said Olwin of the Knights, who have allowed 26 points per game their last four outings, above their 20.6 defensive ppg average for the season.
In eight of their nine wins, the Knights have scored 41 or more points. Their only non-offensive win was a rain-soaked 7-6 nailbiter over Bluffton on the road in week four.
Ada has not been quite as explosive as big-play Crestview, scoring 28.8 points a game while permitting 21.4 ppg, yet still boasts a formidable offense.
"We have come a long way since the loss at Crestview to become a different team," said Olwin. "Everyone learned we had to pull together as a team and to support each other toward a common goal.
"We have played with a different attitude since the first Crestview game," he continued. "We have played really hard the last four weeks."
Special teams and turnovers, as they usually do in close encounters, will play a key role in the rematch that promises to be closer than the October 11 blowout.
Olwin pointed out that Ada almost broke off a kick return in that first outing vs. the Knights, and Crestview scored off special teams vs. LCC in their playoff shootout victory.
"We might be able to get a big play off of a return and if we execute, it might turn the momentum in our favor," he noted. "We have gotten better on kick returns; it is a timing issue. But we will have to cover well against their punt and kickoff returns. They have some really good athletes."
Most games, especially in the post-season, can't be boiled down to a few cliched "keys." But there are some basic important aspects of the contest that will go a long way toward deciding the outcome.
"We have to play a clean game," said Olwin when asked about major factors in playing Crestview. "We have to limit penalties and not make any turnovers. A lot will depend on how well the offensive line can control the line of scrimmage."
Ada fell far behind early at Crestview in week seven, the negative momentum snowballed and the game got away before halftime. The Bulldog mentor wants to avoid another similar early scenario.
"We have to not get in a deja vu mindset if they score early on us," Olwin warned. "We have to protect against that sort of philosophy. But we have come from behind against Delphos Jefferson twice."
Top seed Defiance Tinora (10-1) faces fifth seed Wayne Trace (10-1) in the other region 20 semifinal Friday at Lima Stadium.
The second round winners from region 20 will meet Friday, Nov. 22 at a site TBA.
"We are excited to play at Wapakoneta," said Olwin. "We look forward to that, to playing somewhere different. We are having fun, and the kids and coaches are making it fun for everyone and the community.
"The whole team is improving, but we still haven't played our best yet."