Last Friday night in Kent, the quarterback gave flashes of his abilities to all Flash fans. Italiano ran rough shot over the Kent Roosevelt Rough Riders rushing for 176 yards and three touchdowns and passing for two more as Canfield clobbered the Kent kids 42-21 in the schools’ season starter.
“Jordan played like a three-year starter (on Friday),” said a satisfied Canfield head coach Mike Pavlansky. “He is a leader. It is important for us to have Jordan play well and for all the seniors to have good seasons.”
This season started spectacularly for the Cardinals when Italiano scooted up the middle, cut to the outside and scored on a 50-yard touchdown run. That score came less than two minutes into the game. When Italiano hit one of those other important seniors, Jimmy Rousher, for a two-point conversion Canfield led 8-0. After the Rough Riders rode back into the game, Italiano again got some good blocking and scored on a 17-yard run to make it 15-6 in favor of the Cardinals.
While Italiano was exhibiting his running and throwing prowess, Roosevelt quarterback Tra Chapman was capturing the home team’s fans imaginations as well. The first-year starter had a pair of touchdown tosses to put Roosevelt back in front 21-15 late in the second quarter. Chapman was just one of many talented players Canfield’s kids had to deal with all night last Friday.
“(Kent Roosevelt) have great skill kids,” Pavlansky said. “We had trouble with them in the first half. You have to give them credit. “
Coach Pavlansky may have been handing out credit to his opponent, but by handing the ball to Italiano each snap, the Cardinals were able to make a comeback before halftime. Jordan and Jimmy connected again as Italiano dropped the ball off to his big tight end in the flat and Rousher rumbled 54 yards for a touchdown to put Canfield ahead 22-21 at intermission. That was a play that stirred up the Canfield fans and really catapulted Pavlansky’s defensive crew.
“We held them on fourth and eight at the end of the first half to lead by one at halftime,” said the coach. “After they converted some third downs (in the second half) we stopped them on four straight downs.”
Since the Rough Riders went into a scoring rut, it allowed the Cardinals to put icing on their opening night cake. Italiano scored once again late in the third quarter on a 3-yard run to put Canfield ahead 29-21. A couple touchdowns by Ben Angelo and Anthony Ross, another pair of important seniors, gave the local kids enough padding to come home from Kent 1-0. None of those game-sealing scores would have been possible, however, if Pavlansky’s defense didn’t keep Kent off the scoreboard.
“We made all of the tackles in the second half,” explained the coach about the defensive turnaround. “We had some really big stops.”
Cardinal Nation will be hoping that the winning does not stop this week in the team’s home opener. Canfield will take on Canton South this Friday in a game that pits two perennial playoff contenders coming off troublesome campaigns.
“(Canton South) missed the playoffs last year like us so we have that in common,” Pavlansky said. “They are a much improved club who is trying to get back to a playoff level.”
The level of play Pavlansky’s boys was at against Kent Roosevelt was certainly playoff worthy. Of course, that was just one week of football so the veteran coach will like to see continued improvement.
“I am extremely proud (of how Canfield played in week 1),” Pavlansky said. “It was an exciting game and we kept battling back. Now we have to get better from week 1 to week 2.”
Canfield’s Jordan Italiano posted 180 yeards rushing in Friday’s game against Kent Roosevelt as well as logging three rushing touchdowns and two passing TDs.