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Cards run ends with Kenston's 33-7 victory

November 19, 2018
By Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

It was an unfortunate case of dj vu for the Canfield football team.

A year ago the magical season for the Canfield boys ended a couple wins shy of a state championship. Last Friday evening at Warren's legendary Mollenkopf Stadium, the Cardinals' quest for a title once again died in the regional championship round.

Using a potent combination of unstoppable offense and punishing defense, Kenston capped its regional run with a 33-7 crushing of the Cardinals. It marked just the third time over the past 26 games that this Canfield clan tasted defeat. Tragically, two of those three losses came in Week 13.

"You have to take your hats off to (Kenston)," said Canfield head coach Mike Pavlansky. "Sometimes games don't work out the way you want."

What Pavlansky wanted was to execute the same gameplan he has been using throughout every Canfield playoff run during his tenure. His age old strategy is to keep the opposition's offense off the field by controlling the clock and the ball with his own offense. That idea worked well in the Cardinals' first two playoff victories. Yet, it was the Bombers who stole Pavlansky's plans in their blowout win in Warren. Kenston had 35 plays from scrimmage in the first half compared to a mere 14 for the Cardinals. That ball-control enabled the Bombers to take a 10-0 lead into intermission.

"(Kenston) controlled both lines of scrimmage," said Pavlansky.

The lower-seeded Kenston kids would add to that lead after embarking on 10-play, 77-yard drive that culminated with a 3-yard touchdown run. That scoring march came on the heels of a missed 28-yard field goal by Canfield's Ian Kristan.

Mehlyn Clinkscale was able to punch in a 1-yard touchdown for the Cardinals very late in the third quarter to pull his club to within 10 points of a tie. That score would be the last of Clinkscale's short, yet excellent career at Canfield. It would also be the Cardinals' final touchdown of 2018. Sixteen unanswered points by the Bombers in the fourth period froze out any ideas Canfield had of making a miraculous comeback on this frigid Friday night. Pavlansky's men ended 2018 with an overall record of 11-2. He lauded the entire team, especially the seniors, following the heartbreaking setback.

"I congratulated them on a great year," Pavlansky explained when asked what was said to the team in the locker room post game. "Our seniors are the first (Canfield) class to win 10 plus games two years in a row. They made two straight regional finals. Their 30 wins in three years is the second most in school history."

Pavlansky continued to brag about his large group of 12th-graders pointing out the great things they did outside the record books.

"I mostly proud of their leadership," said the coach. "They stepped up after losing some guys (from last year). They are deserving of all of their accolades. I hope our juniors and sophomores paid attention."

Luckily, there is a strong bunch of underclassmen returning to the Cardinals' roost in 2019. It will be expected that the returning Canfield class is ready to go once offseason conditioning starts after the holidays.

"We will take our (mandatory) 30 days off and come back rejuvenated," said Pavlansky. "We will put in a great winter in the weight room then be ready to make another run next year."



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