The Crestwood Knights have come a long away since getting off to a 0-22 start in their first two varsity football seasons (1996-97). The turnaround began with the arrival of Keith Crolley as the head coach in 1998, even though the team still struggled in the first two seasons of the new regime (4-18).
But since the breakthrough 2000 season, when Crestwood finally finished in the black (8-4), the Knights have been one of the top Class 3A teams in the Lower State. Over the past eight seasons Crestwood has gone 60-36. The high water mark of the Crolley Era came last season when the Knights went 11-3 and advanced to the Lower State championship game before falling 34-28 to state-title bound Wilson. The Knights, by the way, beat Wilson during the Region 5-3A campaign to finish in second place behind Marlboro County. The playoff run last season featured road wins over region champions Airport and Myrtle Beach in the second and third rounds, respectively.
With 15 starters returning, including nine on defense, Crestwood can harbor legitimate state championship dreams in 2008.
Offensively, the Knight have lived productively for years by employing an in-your-face Wing T attack with very little passing required. Last season, Crestwood piled up 5,012 yards on the ground with just 425 being delivered by air. Not much will change, enough though graduation hits were heavy in the backfield and along the offensive line. But Crolley and his staff always seem to have capable replacements ready to step right in.
The only returning starters up front are seniors Robert Shirrell and Brandon Mickens. The only returning regulars in the backfield are quarterback Treginald Wilson and Terrence Wilson, but both were very productive players. Treginald Wilson ran for 732 yards and 13 touchdowns and hit 24 of 60 passes for 402 yards and four scores. Terrence Wilson led the team in rushing with 1.326 yards and scored nine TDs.
The defense is loaded with experience, beginning up front with Javon Weston, Travis McConico and Darius Walker. Marquise Parker, Na’Im Johnson and Travios Jenkins return at linebacker. Randy Moulds is the lone returning starter in the secondary, but Broderick Clinkscales and Mike Portee saw plenty of quality playing time in the deep zone.
Wallace, McConico, Weston and Moulds were all big-play men a year ago. Wallace had 77 tackles, 15 sacks, 14 tackles for loss and three interceptions. McConico’s 59 tackles featured 14 TFL and three sacks. Weston has 13 TFL and two sacks among his 73 total tackles. Moulds had 51 stops and one interceptions, not to mention breaking up a team-high 10 enemy passes.
B.J. Ray is back as the kicker after converting 35 PATs and two field goals a year ago.
The Knights figure to be in the thick of the Region 6-3A title race again with Wilson and Marlboro County. But the region season will be nothing more than a primer for the real campaign that begins in Week 11.
Crestwood opens the season at Sumter on Aug. 29.