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Cards and Spartans tangle in exciting match up

October 3, 2018
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

One of the biggest pet peeves for Canfield head football coach Mike Pavlansky this year has been his team's inability to start fast.

That wasn't a problem for the Cardinals in Week 6's showdown with rival Boardman at Bob Dove Field. What was shocking, however, was that the Cardinals blew a 14-0 halftime lead and allowed the Spartans to tie the game midway through the final quarter. That's when a fantastic athlete, on an amazing team, made a game-changing play. Defensive back Mehlyn Clinkscale scored on a 15-yard interception return with about five minutes left in the contest to give Canfield a 21-14 lead. That would also be the final margin of victory as the Cardinals stayed unbeaten in 2018. It also most likely means that Canfield will remain atop the Division III Region 9 rankings for another week.

"It was a great hard-fought game between two great football teams," said Canfield head coach Mike Pavlansky. "We knew it would be a tough matchup."

Article Photos

Photos by Cindy DeRose, Town Crier

Canfield senior quarterback Max Dawson gains yardage despite pressure from Boardman junior Conner Miller and senior Alex Huzicka.

Things didn't look to be very tough for Pavlansky's group early in the contest. Unlike in most of their other five wins, the Cardinals clicked offensively from the outset. Eight minutes into the match, quarterback Max Dawson took off for a 16-yard touchdown run and a 7-0 Canfield lead. Dawson would then find his favorite target, receiver Matt Zaremski, for a 15-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter and a 14-0 advantage. It would stay that way heading into the third period.

After halftime, however, the tide changed dramatically. The Spartans were able to score twice to tie the game. Boardman had the ball again and were about to embark on a potential game-winning march when Mehlyn made things happen. The decisive play started when Colin Hritz applied strong pressure and laid a hit on Spartans' quarterback Mike O'Horo, who fluttered the football into Clinkscale's waiting hands. The transfer student did the rest as he darted into the end zone to keep Canfield's 17-game regular season winning streak alive.

"Hritz had a great hit on the quarterback that allowed Clinkscale to get the interception that sealed the game," Pavlansky said. "Clinkscale is an amazing athlete."

Clinkscale was also lauded for unselfishly stepping up in the stead of some injured teammates.

"He played his first full time game on defense," said Pavlansky. "He sacrificed some time on offense for the betterment of the team."

The entire Canfield defense played better in the first half than it did in the second half. The Cardinals only allowed 197 yards to the usually potent Spartans and picked off the steady O'Horo three times.

Canfield's defense should have an easier time dominating for four quarters this week when it battles 1-5 Niles. The Red Dragons were hammered by Hubbard 37-0 last Friday and really haven't shown much oomph this season. Nothing would make Niles' season better than to derail the Canfield express. Coach Pavlansky is aware of that, but doesn't believe his boys will come out flat after such an emotional win a week ago.

"I'm not concerned with a letdown," the coach said. "It's our first league game. Everyone is 0-0. We better come prepared to play if we want to reach our goal of winning a league title."

Past games between these two conference rivals have been instant classics. Canfield has gotten the better of the Dragons the past five years, including last year's 36-3 smothering.



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