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Cards take down Struthers 17-0

September 26, 2018
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

The Week 5 showdown with Struthers on the road was certainly going to be the toughest test to date for the unbeaten Canfield football team.

All week head coach Mike Pavlansky was singing the praises of Struthers' skilled players and speed. He warned that the Wildcats' offense could pose a problem for his defenders. So, naturally, the Cardinals flew into Laddie J. Fedor Stadium and pitched a shutout. Canfield's 17-0 whitewash was a tribute to one of the most dominating defensive units in the All American Conference. The Cardinals have allowed only 47 points through five weeks and most of those have come after contests have been completely decided.

"Our defense was great," said Pavlansky on the morning after his team's fifth straight victory. "I'm really pleased with their effort, especially in the Red Zone."

Four times the Wildcats marched inside Canfield's twenty-yard line. All four times, the home team was thwarted. Two of those times, Struthers slithered to Canfield's one only to be turned away again. The Wildcats may have had nearly 300 yards of total offense and 16 first downs, but Canfield's defenders bent, but never broke.

"We came up big when we needed to," Pavlansky said. "Our defense made some big plays. Stopping (Struthers) twice inside the five-yard line was outstanding."

Conversely, Canfield's offense was far from outstanding, but it did something that the coach has been yearning for all year. Pavlansky has been urging his team to play with a little more urgency at the outset of their games. Waiting to rev up hasn't been a problem for Pavlansky's boys because their opposition has all been teams with a lot less talent. Struthers, on the other hand, is almost equal to the Cardinals in playmakers so scoring early was emphasized all week in practice. That practice paid off on Canfield's first drive last Friday evening.

On the Cardinals' first play from scrimmage, running back Nick Crawford raced around end and took the ball 43-yards to the Wildcats' 15. A few plays later, quarterback Max Dawson would scramble in from 11-yards out to stake the visitors to a 7-0 lead. Although the offense quieted down over the next quarter and a half, Canfield's "O" started cooking again late in the second quarter. A ball-churning 11-play 85-yard drive culminated in an Ian Kristan 29-yard field goal directly before halftime and a 10-0 Canfield lead. The beginning and ending of the first half was much more palatable for Pavlansky.

"Scoring early is what we've been looking for," said the coach. "We had a nice drive at the end of the first half too. We're still working on things offensively, but we were pleased (with the offense against Struthers)."

Crawford would cap another eventful evening for himself late in the third period when he marched in for an 11-yard score. Kristan's second extra point gave the Cardinals their final margin of victory. Canfield's offense racked up 297 yards on the ground as a team and controlled the clock throughout the second half.

If Week 5's trip to Struthers wasn't difficult enough to test the Cardinals' resolve, Week 6's battle with 4-1 Boardman will do everything to break it. This battle royale with Boardman is easily the game of the weekend in our area and should provide Canfield with quite a challenge.

"Boardman has athletes all across the field," Pavlansky said. "They are a very tough matchup."

Stopping the Spartans means putting the clamps on sensational senior quarterback Mike O'Horo, who is a three-year starter. He has helped the Spartans outscore their opponents 86-36 in their four wins. Boardman can also get very defensive as proven by its 8-6 win over rival Cardinal Mooney a week ago. Pavlansky is very pleased that his boys have strung together win after win this year, but is cognizant that his group's 16 game regular season winning streak can come crashing down at the hands of the Spartans.

"I'm happy we're in a position to be undefeated at this point of the year," Pavlansky said, "but if we don't keep improving and sure up some of our mistakes, we won't beat Boardman."



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