Redskins hit the road to end their season

RUSHING BY — Indian Creek’s Johnell Blair rushes past Beaver Local’s Beau Smith on Friday. (Photo by Joe Catullo)

COLUMBIANA — Coming off of perhaps what is the Redskins most impressive performance of the season (a 38-0 senior night thumping of Beaver Local), Indian Creek hits the road to take on the Crestview Rebels Friday night.

“It was a complete game for us,” Indian Creek coach Andrew Connor said. “That was our best game of the season when it comes to every aspect of the football game. Our effort has been there all season, but we’ve struggled with consistency in our execution. That was the key last week; no turnovers, no mental mistakes and no penalties that were out of the ordinary. Our concentration and execution were really good last week.”

Last week the Redskins defense pitched its fourth shutout of the season, the third shutout performance following a loss, and the offense had the run-pass balance that Connor has been looking for all year. Indian Creek threw for 247 yards and four touchdowns, 231 and three coming from junior quarterback Brennon Norris with Sam Mazar tossing the fourth. The Redksins added another score and 151 yards running ball, with the touchdown and 97 of those yards coming from sophomore running back Trevor Fante.

“We’ve had a good mix,” he said. “Anybody is at their best when they can do both, but for us it’s especially important. Opponents can’t just stop one or the other. If you walk eight up in the box, we are going to throw the ball, and if you play off then we’re going to hand the ball off. Right now we kind of get to dictate to the other side what we want to do.”

The win gave Indian Creek the Buckeye 8 North title for a fourth straight year, something that was important to Connor.

“We take a lot of pride in the fact that we haven’t lost a Buckeye 8 North game in four years,” he said. “For us it’s a big deal to keep the title on our side. Our seniors have always been Buckeye 8 North champions.”

While the Redskins (5-3) are not in the top-12 playoff picture of the Divison III, Region 11 computer ratings, Crestview (4-4) is very much in the mix, sitting in 10th after winning each of its last two games, just two spots out in Divison V, Region 17.

“It’s a new opponent in terms of playing them,” Connor said. “We’ve both been members of the Quad County Association for years, and I know coach (Paul) Cusik very well. His program has been very good. They work hard and have hard-nosed kids. We saw them play Warren JFK, and they do not beat themselves. They are a good football team and they are fighting for a playoff spot, so we expect to get their very best on Friday night.”

On the season, Norris is the top passer in the 11-team Herald-Star/Daily Times coverage area, throwing for 1,545 yards and 11 touchdowns with just three interceptions. He has completed 112-of-192 passes for a completion percentage of 58.3.

“He has done everything we’ve asked of him,” Connor said. “He works hard at what he does. He’s been fortunate that our offensive line has done a good job blocking for him, and the wideouts have obviously done a good job of running routes and catching the balls.”

Fante has racked up 646 yards and 12 touchdowns on 150 carries, good enough to be in the top five of area running backs. He is averaging 4.3 yards per carry.

The Redskins also have two of the top 10 receivers in the area in Devin and Devon Eakle. Devin Eakle is the area’s leading pass catcher with 37 grabs for 552 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 14.9 per reception. Devon Eakle is eighth with 21 catches for 334 yards and a score, averaging 15.9 per catch.

As a whole, the Indian Creek offense is fifth in the area, putting up 316.4 yards per game and 27.4 points. The Redskins have put up 120.1 yards on the ground and 196.3 through the air.

On defense, the Redskins are one of the top three squads in the area, allowing just 184.9 yards and 11.3 points per contest. Indian Creek’s pass defense has been staunch, giving up just 79.1 yards while giving up 105.8 on the ground.

The Rebels average 26 points per game and are led by running back Andrew Yanssens. He has racked up 878 yards and six touchdowns on 150 carries. He averages just less than six yards per carry and 110 yards per game, with five 100-plus-yard performances. Ethan Powell has added 447 rushing yards on 42 carries with five scores, three 100-plus-yard games and an average of 10.6 yards per carry.

“They run the ball very well,” Connor said. “Their quarterback does a good job of reading. If you over-commit he will pull the ball down and run.”

Caleb Hill runs the Crestview offense at quarterback, throwing for 717 yards, seven touchdowns and 13 interceptions while completing 55-of-132 passes for a completion percentage of 42. He has added 232 yards on 57 carries and five more scores on the ground.

Catching the ball, Crestview has Dylan Huff with 24 catches for 354 yards and five touchdowns. Jeff Feo has added 19 catches for 213 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, the Rebels allow 19.3 points and 316.7 yards (226.9 rushing and 89.8 passing). The Crestview defense also has 15 interceptions this season.