Heading into this season, Canfield head football coach Mike Pavlansky was guardedly optimistic about the abilities of his offense.
After two weeks, perhaps the veteran coach was holding back information from the rest of us. A week after dropping 42 points on Kent Roosevelt, the Cardinals came back and scored 41 more against Canton South in the team’s home opener at Bob Dove Field. Eighty-three points in two weeks isn’t bad for a “rebuilding” offense.
“Both our offense and our defense are playing well,” said Pavlansky this past weekend. “Offensively, we are averaging over 300 yards per game.”
One of the main reasons why the Cardinals are doing so well offensively is the play of its offensive line. Quarterback Jordan Italiano rushed for touchdowns of 37 and 45 yards and running backs Ben Angelo, Bryce Jackson and Anthony Ross had their second straight strong games thanks to the big boys up front.
“The offensive line, especially the seniors, is playing well,” Pavlansky said. “Conner Hoelzel, Brian Benson, Tylor Rhoads and Jimmy Rousher have all been around the block and their experience is paying off. They are opening huge holes for our running game.”
Italiano found many holes in Canton South’s defense so he was able to connect on some passes that softened up things for the running attack. Italiano had a 43-yard touchdown pass and has convinced coach Pavlansky that he can be counted on to win games through the air.
“Jordan has proved he can throw downfield,” Pavlansky said. “He has completed 65 percent of his passes and has been very accurate.”
The veteran coach was accurate himself when he cited both his offense and defense for his team’s early season success. Canfield’s defenders held the Wildcats to less than 130 yards of total offense last Friday night and now have given up just 35 points in two weeks to two offensively experienced offenses.
Still, there are areas on defense where the Cardinals can get better.
“The defense missed some tackles (against Canton South),” Pavlansky said sternly. “I am also disappointed with the penalties. We doubled our penalties from week one (Canfield had five in week one and 10 in week two).”
Not only did coach Pav pick on parts of his defense, but he also acknowledged a need for the third facet of his football team to improve.
“We have a ways to go on special teams,” announced the coach. “We need to shore things up (on special teams).”
With the win last week, Canfield has never lost to Canton South at home. The Wildcats are certainly not the team they have been in past years, but this week’s opponent is as strong as ever. This Friday, Canfield welcomes perennial playoff participant Dover to Bob Dove Field. Dover is 2-0 and has scored 85 points in two weeks. Like the Cardinals, these Tornadoes are a whirlwind to watch when they are on offense. After scouting his upcoming opponent, Pavlansky has an inkling why Dover is destroying rival defenses.
“When watching them on film the quarterback (Derik Swinderman) really jumps out at you,” explained Pavlansky. “He is a two year starter at quarterback and he has four or five receivers that he can throw to. They are also very big and physical. We will have our work cut out for us.”
If Canfield can tidy up the small areas of concerns the coach complained about and continues to move the ball effortlessly on offense, then maybe it will be the visitors from Dover who will be the ones in for a lot of work on Friday night.