Not many area high school football teams do defense and special teams as well as the Canfield Cardinals.
That fact was once again evident Oct. 2 as Canfield shut down a speedy East offense to cruise to a 23-0 victory. The win was Canfield's fifth in six games this season.
Nine of Canfield's 23 points came off the leg of kicker Billy Fisher who hit field goals of 37, 39 and 27 yards. Those three connections were a career high for the senior booter. Punter Matt Harmon was also instrumental in the win, pinning the dangerous East offense back most of the night. It was a special performance indeed for the Cardinals.
"What a tremendous effort," shouted an elated Canfield head coach Mike Pavlansky. "It was one of our best efforts of the year."
Pavlansky then went on to give a shout out to his two kickers.
"No doubt Billy is one of the best kickers in the area," said Pavlansky. "Matt Harmon is a first year punter who is doing an excellent job. Our coverage teams did well (Friday night) too. We take pride in our special teams."
The coach could also be proud when discussing his defense. Canfield held the ultra-quick Panthers to just 2.3 yards per rush and less than 100 yards passing. The Cardinals defense also registered two interceptions and forced a fumble.
"Whenever you can do that defensively against a team like East it speaks volumes about your defense," said Pavlansky.
The volume was so high all night that coach Pavlansky started naming everyone when asked who stood out individually on the defensive side of the ball.
"I can't single anyone out," he said. "Everyone did the job that was asked of them. Everyone carried out their assignments well."
Fisher's assignment was to make sure he was ready in case Canfield's offense stalled inside the red zone. Not punching the ball in for a touchdown has become a horrible epidemic recently for Canfield so the automatic Fisher has been a blessing. He answered that call with successful kicks in quarters one, two and three. The 9-0 lead after three quarters was really enough for the Cardinals, but there was still some unfinished business that needed to be taken care of. Running backs Donnie Allison and Blake Jackson took care of that in quarter number four. Midway through the final period, Allison broke free up the middle for a 25-yard touchdown run. After an East fumble set the Cardinals up inside Panthers territory, Jackson plunged in from a yard away to put the game away. The Cardinals had 250 yards of total offense, but Pavlansky was not satisfied until those two rushes for scores.
"We pushed the ball in a couple times in the fourth quarter," said Pavlansky, "but I would like to see that throughout the game. We drove the ball well, but we don't want to keep settling for field goals."
Whether its touchdowns or field goals there figures to be a lot of them coming from the Canfield side tomorrow when the Cardinals visit winless Beaver Local. Sure the Beavers have yet to taste victory in 2009, but don't tell coach Pav that his team is not up for a fight this Friday night.
"(Beaver Local) has shown signs of being a good team," said the coach. "They moved the ball well the first few games. They are winless, but it's their Homecoming so the crowd will be ready."
The Beavers have three veteran linebackers who are good run stuffers so that may pose a challenge to Canfield's usual strategy of run first, pass if necessary. Certainly, the Cardinals will be concerned about getting the ball into the end zone more consistently again as well. Of course, the Cards play a little bit of defense too, which should make things miserable for Beaver Local's young offense.
"Our defense will have to step things up again," Pavlansky admitted. "We are one game down in the league so we need this win. You win championships with defense and we've been doing that at Canfield for a long, long time."