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Cards continue to advance after 30-7 win over Akron East

November 14, 2018
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

The Canfield football team's 2018 playoff journey took it to the blue turf of Ravenna Stadium last Friday night.

The Canfield kids scored 20 unanswered points in the second half and held the Dragons to just 77 yards passing in an impressive 30-7 victory. The top seeded Cardinals will now move on and play second seeded Chagrin Falls Kenston in the Division III, Region 9 finals.

For much of this semifinal showdown, it seemed that neither squad really wanted to advance in the tournament. The two teams traded sloppy offense in the first quarter and finished that frame at a scoreless deadlock. It took almost eight minutes of the second stanza before the Dragons' Kyre Williams plunged in from the 1-yard line for the game's first score. That would be the final touchdown Canfield's dynamite defense would surrender the rest of the night. East's offense was littered with tremendous athletes, but once the Cardinals took control, those electric players were shut down. The Dragons were diminished after intermission to the tune of just 47 yards of total offense.

Article Photos

Photos by Cindy DeRose, Town Crier

Canfield senior quarterback Mehlyn Clinkscale crosses into the endzone scoring a touchdown for Canfield as Akron East junior Amarian Robinson and junior Deshawn Jones close in.

"We adjusted to (East's) speed in the second half," said Canfield head coach Mike Pavlansky. "Our defense played outstanding. When we execute we're hard to beat."

The same can be said about the Cardinals' offense. The problem last Friday, however, was that that unit didn't begin to execute well until deep into the second period. Canfield answered East's short score with one of its own just before halftime. That TD was courtesy of a 2-yard Nick Crawford run. A few seconds later, the Cardinals would strike again thanks to a fortuitous bounce. Canfield kicker Ian Kristan was set up to squib the ensuing kickoff so the Dragons wouldn't be able to get any good return yards. Instead, it worked more like an onside kick as the ball bounced off a Dragon and was recovered by a Canfield defender. A couple moments later, Kristan connected on a 40-yard field goal to put the Cardinals up for good. Coach Pavlansky admitted prior to this contest that he believed his group had a huge advantage in special teams play. As usual, the sage mentor was spot on with his assessment.

"It was a planned squib," Pavlansky said. "It bounced back to us and our offense did a good job getting that field goal at the end of the half."

The Cardinals' offense also did a good job squashing any thoughts the Dragons had of making a second half comeback. They did that by using Pavlansky's theory of keeping the opposing team's weapons off the field by rushing the football. Canfield's backs heated up in the third quarter and ended the evening with 260 yards on the ground. Leading the way was the magnificent Mehlyn Clinkscale who had touchdown jaunts of 30 and 8 yards in the third frame. He would total 172 yards on 24 carries. Crawford completed Canfield's second half crusade with another 2-yard run in the fourth quarter. Naturally, Pavlansky sent kudos to the kids who do the dirty work in the trenches.

"Our offensive line took over the game," said the coach. "Our running game wasn't very good early. We also had too many penalties and were getting behind the chains. Once we eliminated that we started moving the ball."

Canfield's coach will hope for a quicker start this Friday night against Kenston. Like the Cardinals, the Bombers are 11-1. Like Akron East, they can light up a scoreboard. Kenston scored over 400 points this regular season and averaged a tick more than 40 points per game. It started the year with eight straight victories before suffering its only setback 27-24 to playoff participant Chardon in Week 9. The number two seed has scored 88 points combined in its two playoff wins. It won't take rocket science for the Canfield coaching staff to figure out how to slow the Bombers down.

"We need to control the line scrimmage and control the football," Pavlansky said. "They like to throw, but will run too. We need to stop their running game and make them one dimensional."

Kenston and Canfield are no strangers to each other on the gridiron. The two schools met in both 2015 and 2016 with Canfield sweeping that home-in-home series. Coach Pav recognizes how well his boys have done against the Bombers, but also realizes that any team still playing the week before Thanksgiving is no turkey.

"We have a history with (Kenston)," Pavlansky said, "but those games get thrown out. Everybody at this point is good."



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