What a difference a week can make in high school football.
Seven nights after opening the season with a disappointing home loss to Louisville, the Canfield football team came back and advanced into the win column with an impressive 21-13 victory at Alliance.
Without a doubt, the Aviators were the best offensive team the Cardinals have faced this year dating back to the preseason and the way their defense amped up in Alliance was a sight for the sore eyes of head coach Mike Pavlansky.
"We were outstanding on defense," said Pavlansky last weekend. "I am really proud of our guys. We played well all night and really improved from week 1 to week 2."
Canfield's defensive effort was so colossal last Friday it would have even given the Fair's rooster something extra to crow about. The Cardinals pitched a shutout in the first half and didn't allow a touchdown until the third quarter was almost over. Alliance only secured six first downs all evening and barely topped two hundred yards of total offense.
While the defense was dominantly doing its thing, Canfield's offense was methodically making points. In this age of spread offenses and five wide receiver sets, there are still some schools like Canfield that like to bring the game back to the basics. The first two Canfield touchdowns last Friday came via the ground in the second quarter. Sophomore tailback Nick Annichenni took a handoff midway through the second stanza and outraced the Alliance defense 46 yards to the end zone for a 7-0 Cardinals lead. Annichenni would end the evening with a game-high 126 yards rushing and kudos from his coach.
"Annichenni had a nice game," Pavlansky announced. "He has good speed and he is carrying a big load for a sophomore."
Before halftime, junior quarterback Kimu Kim capped a nice drive for the Cardinals with a 1-yard touchdown sneak to advance the visitors' advantage to 14-0. Kim would collect 62 yards rushing. Also running Alliance ragged was senior Conner Kesner who had 84 yards on the ground. Those lofty totals not only looked nice in the scorebook, but they enabled the Cardinals to take the air out of the Aviators in the final frame.
"We were able to control the ball and run out the clock," said Pavlansky proudly. Yet before Canfield killed the clock it did have one trick up its red and black sleeve. With seven and a half minutes left to play in the third quarter the Cardinals took a 21-0 lead when Kim coupled with Annichenni on a 22-yard touchdown pass. The junior quarterback only attempted six passes all night, but hit on four of them.
"(Kim) is doing a good job," said Pavlansky. "Things are slowing down for him and he is making good decisions."
Despite Kim's steady play through week 2, don't expect the Cardinals to suddenly morph into the next coming of the New England Patriots' offense.
"We are still a running team who likes to protect the ball," Pavlansky said with a laugh.
The veteran coach will not be as jocular this week if his offense does not run the ball well again. For the second week in row, Canfield takes to the road to play a potent outfit. This Friday, the Cardinals travel to Dover to meet the 1-1 Tornadoes. Dover does exactly what Alliance does on offense and that is try to air the ball out all over the field.
"It is a typical Dover team that is really big and fast," Pavlansky pronounced. "They play five wides and have a tremendous quarterback who has accounted for over 700 yards of offense."
That much offense means Pavlansky's pupils will need to be efficient once again and control the pigskin as much as possible. One may think that Canfield possibly has an advantage because it was able to go on the road in week 2 and come home a big winner, but coach Pavlansky thinks there is a huge difference in the week 3 venue.
"We are used to taking (a road) trip," said Pavlansky, "but Dover is a huge football town with great fans. They are coming off a loss (31-14) to Ashland so they will be ready to play."
With a little momentum and one win now in their claws you can bet that Pavlansky's Cardinals will be ready to play this Friday night too.