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Future league opponents battle tonight

Garfield. Crestview. The two teams plan to see plenty of one another in years to come.

Tonight, they’re Division V, Region 17 quarterfinal opponents as the two play at JAG Field starting at 7.

The two teams will both be in the Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference Gray Tier come 2021.

“I think they’re a great addition to the league,” said Crestview coach Paul Cusick, whose team is 5-1. “Hopefully this is a preview for years to come, that it’s going to be a highly-competitive game. It’s going to be two teams that have that same kind of kids that play hard and get after it. I expect it to be a fourth-quarter game, both teams are going to come out swinging. I expect an old-fashioned football game.”

The two teams met in a regular-season matchup in Garrettsville on Sept. 23, 2016. The G-Men (7-0) beat the Rebels, 41-14. Garfield advanced to a regional final that season, while Crestview finished 3-7.

“There’s not a lot of familiarity between us right now, being that we only played one time,” Garfield coach Mike Moser said. “It’s going to set the stage for, hopefully, a good rivalry to come in the next couple of years.”

Offensively, Crestview is balanced with Anthony Cusick, Paul’s son, throwing for more than 700 yards and 10 touchdowns. Ethan Powell and William Hardenbrook have rushed for about 600 and 500 yards apiece. Hardenbrook and Brandon Yanssens each have about 300 yards receiving.

“They’re probably the most complete offense we’ve faced all year in terms of being able to do everything,” Moser said.

Garfield, which has amassed almost 2,000 yards rushing, counters with its play-action pass. It was Cardinal Mooney’s Waterloo during last weekend’s playoff matchup in Garrettsville.

“We run the ball a lot and take our shots,” Moser said. “There’s a lot to go around there. The kids are unselfish and wait for their opportunity, blocking in the run game and knowing it’s going to set up their opportunities somewhere down the road. Brody (Swigowski) threw the ball really well, Joe (Perrine) went and got it. Anthony (Demma) made some great catches.

“That’s what you’re going to have to do in the playoffs when teams are so good at stopping the run or stopping the pass. You’re going to have to be able to do both.”

Swigowski is 26-of-62 for 549 yards and seven scores. Demma has 108 carries for 908 yards and nine scores, while Austin Lysiak has 102 carries for 645 yards and eight scores. Perrine and Demma have more than 200 yards receiving and a combined eight scores.

Paul Cusick said countering that play-action pass is something the Rebels have to do in order to win. Crestview has held opponents to seven or less points after losing its opener, 20-17, to Champion.

“You have to keep working on your defense being disciplined,” he said. “As much as they like to run the ball, it lulls you to sleep — run, run, run. They do a good job with that play action and go over the top. They don’t throw it a lot, but they do make big plays in the passing game. You have to really get your kids to focus and understand that’s one of their weapons. You have to try and take something away.

“That is something we have been focusing on, making them understand, showing it on film, working on it over and over in practice so they can see it and hopefully get used to it.”

Defensively, Garfield has to stop the run. Cardinal Mooney’s Zy’ere Rogers ran for more than 300 yards and three touchdowns against the G-Men.

Moser said his team missed a lot of tackles, but credits Rogers as a gifted runner.

“He was going to have his yards,” Moser said. “We were going to minimize them if we tackled a little bit better on third down.

“It’s a learning experience. The one thing about missing a lot of tackles is you had a lot of guys in position to make those plays. We just have to make them this week.”

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