Last Friday night on Bob Dove Field, the Canfield football team came oh so close to winning its first game since week 4 of 2012.
A touchdown by visiting Alliance with just 15 seconds left in the game, however, pushed the Cardinals' losing streak to eight straight. The Aviators avenged a week two loss to Canfield last season with a thrilling 41-38 victory. Thrilling was not exactly the adjective Canfield head coach Mike Pavlansky used to describe the setback, but he was impressed with how his kids stayed in the game after halftime.
"We played great in the second half," Pavlansky said. "They didn't quit. We just came up a little short."
Photos by Cindy DeRose, Town Crier correspondent
Canfield teammates congratulate senior Kimu Kim after he scores a touchdown.
Alliance scored once in the first quarter then three more times in the second to build what looked like an insurmountable 27-10 lead at intermission. In the third quarter, Canfield quarterback Kimu Kim took over. The senior scored on runs of 48 and 24 yards in the third to pull the Cardinals to within a field goal of the Aviators. With Alliance up by 10 early in the fourth period, Kim handed the ball to running back Nick Annichenni who sprinted 53 yards for a score to make it 34-31 Alliance. Less than nine minutes later, Kim carried the ball for his third touchdown to give his team the lead with only 1:30 left in the game. The way the Cardinals clawed their way to a late lead had coach Pavlansky pining for better play in the first half.
"We kept fighting back," said Pavlansky, "but we need to put four quarters together."
One Aviator who had it all together last Friday evening was quarterback Parrish Martin. It seemed like every time Parrish put the pill in his own hands he was headed towards the end zone. He rushed for 158 yards and five touchdowns including the game-winner with just 18 seconds remaining in the game. Martin also made one touchdown through the air on a second quarter touchdown toss. Parrish's play made a believer out of everyone in attendance including the top man on the other sideline.
"(Martin) is an exciting player," Pavlansky admitted. "We had a tough time containing him."
Meanwhile, the Aviators' defense had their own difficult time holding down Kim, Annichenni and the rest of the offensive Cards. Kim would end the night with 195 yards of total offense with 140 of those coming on the ground. Annichenni carried the ball 22 times for 212 yards and two touchdowns. The offensive output was much better than the one Canfield displayed in its first game.
"We were better in week two than we were in week one," said Pavlansky.
Coach Pav certainly hopes week three is even better than week two. It won't be easy this Friday because sometimes dominating Dover comes to Canfield. Dover dumped the Cardinals 56-0 at this same time a year ago. Naturally, Pavlansky remembers that gruesome game.
"We know we have to be on our game or we can be in trouble," the coach grumbled. "We have to be able to play and execute on every play."
The Cardinals executed a lot last week versus Alliance, but still left some plays on the field. An upset win over Dover would do wonders for the psyche of the Cardinals the rest of this season.
"We are disappointed with where we're at," Pavlansky said, "but the kids will continue to play hard."