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Cards beat Louisville 21-14

August 29, 2018
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

Most experts around the area predicted this preseason that the Canfield football team is one of the favorites to enjoy a long playoff run in 2018.

What the Canfield boys did in their season opener last Friday night accentuated that belief. In front of a large, anxious crowd at Bob Dove Field, the Cardinals controlled both lines of scrimmage and comfortably beat visiting Louisville 21-14. It was the first of many wins the Cardinals are expected to garner in this fall.

"You always want to play really well (in the season opener), especially with all the work in the offseason," said Canfield head coach Mike Pavlansky who began his 18th season at the helm last weekend. "We had a lot of inexperienced kids playing varsity for the first time, but they kept battling all night."

One of the most inexperienced groups on this Canfield squad is the offensive line. That unit returned zero starters from last season's 12-1 club so it was unknown just how effective it would be early in the schedule. According to Coach Pavlansky, the blockers did their job very well.

"I'm excited where (the offensive line) is at, especially versus a good defense," Pavlansky said.

Conversely, the boys along the defensive front are much more seasoned and were counted on to apply the heat on Louisville's excellent offense. They didn't disappoint.

"Our defensive line is much more experienced," Pavlansky said. "Guys like P.J. Hallof and Anthony D'Alesio controlled the line and forced (Louisville) to throw. It took them out of their running game, which is what we wanted to do."

Another thing the Cardinals wanted was to get rookie quarterback Max Dawson off on the right foot. The senior was making his initial start behind center for the varsity and, aside from a couple minor hiccups, presented himself terrifically.

"I think (Dawson) missed two checks all night," said Pavlansky. "He ran the offense well, which is huge for a first time starter. He also trusted his offensive line."

Dawson earned the trust of his team too when he tossed a pair of touchdown passes in the first quarter. The usually conservative head coach had no problem allowing his senior slinger to air it out and he was paid off handsomely. Dawson hit super senior wideout Matt Zaremski both times, once from 30 yards out and the other from twelve. After Louisville got on the scoreboard late in the third quarter, Dawson stemmed the tide with a 10-yard touchdown run a couple minutes into the fourth frame. A late touchdown pulled the visitors to within seven points making the ending total more palatable. Dawson ended the evening going an efficient 9 for 14 passing for 109 yards and added another 120 yards on the ground.

The balanced offense Canfield displayed against the Leopards will be needed again this Friday when it hits the road for the first time this year. The Cardinals will travel to Alliance to rekindle their relationship with the 0-1 Aviators. Hubbard manhandled Alliance 63-14 in Week 1, but Coach Pavlansky isn't going to be fooled by that final outcome.

"Hubbard is a really good team and Alliance isn't as bad as that score indicated," Pavlansky said. "Alliance is a very fast team and are always well coached. We expect them to take a jump from last week."

One can also expect the Aviators to want to jump at the chance of gaining revenge from last year's 34-0 shellacking at the hands of the local kids. In fact, Alliance hasn't beaten Pavlansky's bunch since 2013. It is hard to see that trend changing this Friday.



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