Our search for hidden gems has taken us far and wide across the state of
Ohio, and our next gem is the one who may be the most hidden of them all -- OL Kory
Lichtensteiger from Crestview High School in the small rural farming town of
Convoy in Western Ohio.
Western Ohio is the home of some pretty darn good football. There are
some great teams among the communities of the western part of the
state, and the small-school football there is as good as it is anywhere (and
they have the state titles to prove it). Schools like Versailles, St.
Henry, Delphos St. Johns, St. Mary's Memorial, and Maria Stein Marion Local are
all among the small schools from that area that have won multiple state titles
in their past.
For Crestview, however, things are just getting started (or re-started, depending
on how you look at it). Crestview is a Division VI school that had a
situation from 1982 to 1996 that would be a nightmare for many fans -- they had
no football team. Football was ended at Crestview in the 1981-82 year, and
there continued to be no team until 1996, when the football program was started
up once again at the junior high level. The community showed support, and
things continued to look up in 1998-99 when the Crestview JV team went
10-0. Then finally, in 1999, Crestview fielded their first ever varsity
football team. Since then, the community has been getting behind the team
more and more as Crestview (which plays in the Northwest
Conference) has been competitive in all their games and has posted a combined
record of 12-17. "In
the smaller schools, there is such a sense of pride in everything we do,"
said Head Coach Chad Williams. "People are very supportive, and each year
we seem to be getting more support."
And now, as the Crestview Knights enter into their fourth varsity season, they will have
a legitimate Division I football recruit in OL Kory Lichtensteiger.
"Kory is an incredible athlete for a guy 6'4'' 285 lbs," Coach
Williams said. "If (Division I programs) aren't willing to take a
chance on him, (they) will be missing out on that athletic ability."
Kory, who has run a 5.15 in the 40 along with a 325 lb bench and a 465 lb
squat, has been able to catch the eye of recruiters using that athletic ability
and talent, but he also has a drive and desire to win that makes him even
better. "As a player, Kory is a great leader with a great deal of
intensity," Coach Williams said. "He loves the game and wants to
succeed on every play. His desire to be the best player on the field makes
him very hard to stop defensively and gives a great deal of confidence
offensively. He very often makes blocks downfield and sets up other blocks
so well because of his quick feet."
Kory has not allowed a sack in two years of playing in Crestview's spread offense
("I can't think of one if he has," Coach Williams said), but
this year, he might not need to pass-block quite as much.
Kory is a good run-blocker, this season we will challenge him a little more
because we will not be in a spread offense 95% of the time like last
season," said Coach Williams. "Therefore, with more run blocking
involved, he will have to continue to get stronger and faster."
Kory agrees. "I would definitely say my strength is pass
blocking," he said. "We have run this style
of game for the 3 years I've played varsity for Crestview. I don't want to say that my run blocking is my weakness but I do want to bring it up to the
level that I would be happy with. I am in the weight room 12 months a year and I feel that is a big part of my success."
Right now, Kory plays tackle on offense but could also play guard on the next
level. Offense isn't the only area where Kory stands out though as last
year, he put up nice numbers as a defensive tackle. "We played 9 games last
year," Kory said. "I had 17 unassisted tackles, 41 assisted
tackles, 75 tackle points, 12 tackles for losses and 1 fumble recovery.
I've started varsity since the first game of my freshman year."
What schools are looking at this small-school standout? Right now,
Iowa, Indiana, OSU, Toledo, Northwestern, West Virginia, Bowling Green, and Kent
State are among those interested, and Ohio State currently has the lead.
"I've grown up a Buckeye and have always been a fan and love the
program," Kory said.
Kory is also very busy with camps this summer. "I've been to
Toledo and Purdue and am set to go to Kent State for Crestview team camp and
will be attending Ohio State's camp," he said. "I would like
to get to Iowa, West Virginia, Indiana, and maybe Northwestern."
The fact that Kory is a Division I recruit has been great for Crestview
football. "I think for the school it gets our name out there and lets people know
about our football program," Coach Williams said. "It also
allows many of our other athletes to realize if they have the talent and want to
work at it, they will have an opportunity to play a college sport at a high
level. For the community, I think it just creates a sense of pride."
Playing for Crestview has been something that Kory has enjoyed and he doesn't
think it has hurt him in any way. "Playing football for a new program has been
great," Kory said. "I don't feel that playing football at a small school has made any difference in where I am as
"Being a fairly large part of a small school has been a very cool
experience," he continued. "It makes me work as hard as I can because I know that the other
players and fans are counting on me. It is really cool when little kids come up to me and say they know me and they know my number. I even visited
the kindergarten class and talked to them about playing football. I think that it is important because I think I need to be a positive role model."
Being a positive role model might come natural for Kory. "He is a very well-adjusted young man with good moral standards,"
Coach Williams said. "He is very modest and has a very positive
outlook on life."
Off-the-field, Kory enjoys spending time with his friends and is thinking of
majoring in design or drafting. Over the spring, he got a little
experience in that field as he and his friends constructed a small building to
hang out in in the woods. Kory is also a fine basketball player (10 PPG)
and has two brothers who have played football; one has graduated and the other
-- Luke -- is a sophomore-to-be and has already gotten a listing in Ohio's
Future Stars, so Kory may not be Crestview's last D-I recruit.
It will be fun to watch what Kory Lichtensteiger can do and what he can bring
to the Crestview football program. The question doesn't seem to be if
he'll wind up playing football for a Division I-A school, but what school he'll
play for. Wherever he ends up, it sounds like Kory has what it takes to be
a success and make his town proud.