If you solely looked at the statistics from last Friday night's season opener, it would have seemed that the Canfield football team started the 2013 season off with a bang.
The Cardinals owned nearly a 60-yard advantage in total yards over host Louisville, had close to a three-to-one margin in passing yards and even held a 10-3 lead after three quarters.
The only numbers that mattered, however, were the final ones that lit up the home scoreboard. Louisville scored 10 unanswered points in the final period to earn a 13-10 come-from-behind victory. Canfield's loss was the team's seventh in a row dating back to last season.
"We didn't finish the game," complained Canfield head coach Mike Pavlansky. "We definitely played well enough to win, but couldn't close it out."
Pavlansky's kids certainly started better than they finished. After spotting the home team a 3-0 lead, the Cardinals came back with a game-tying field goal from 20 yards out by junior kicker Bryan Kristan. Canfield crept in front when senior quarterback Kimu Kim connected with junior Matt Milligan on an 11-yard touchdown pass. Kim earned the confidence of coach Pavlansky by throwing for more than 150 yards. Of course, Canfield's offensive strategy is centered on controlling the clock by rushing the football. That aspect of the offense was absent last Friday and despite Kim's cool play, Pavlansky still pleaded for more offense.
"We need to clean things up on offense," the coach mentioned. "Two turnovers led to (Louisville) points. We couldn't maintain any consistency on offense. We need to find that consistency."
Louisville may have been a bit inconsistent itself early in the contest, but it found a good rhythm in the second half. A field goal pulled the Leopards to within four points of the Cardinals, then a 24-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Connor Zwick to receiver A.J. Minster gave Louisville the lead for good. Although the Leopards' last quarter win spotted up Canfield's otherwise fine defensive performance, coach Pavlansky was still pleased with how the Cards dealt with Louisville's offense.
"Our defense played well," said Pavlansky. "They were physical. We felt good about our defense."
The veteran coach will feel even better if his defense can carry out that same type of effort this week in the Cardinals' home opener. Canfield will play Alliance this Friday at Bob Dove Field. The Aviators eliminated Southeast 49-22 in their season opener last week, which proves they have an offense worthy enough to challenge any stifling defense.
"(Alliance) got off to a great start," said Pavlansky, "but they are looking to get better too. We know we will have to play well on defense again. If we try to get into a track meet with them we won't win."
Canfield did win against Alliance in 2012 by the score of 21-13 in the same Week 2 showdown. Unfortunately, the Cardinals would only go on to win one more game the rest of the schedule. A victory in this season's second game would not only halt the Cardinals uncharacteristic losing streak, but it would hopefully act as a springboard for a bounce back campaign.