The last thing the Canfield football team needed during this major rebuilding season was to play a schedule stocked with multiple playoff caliber teams.
That gruesome slate started in week 1 when the Cardinals traveled to Louisville and was followed by clashes with Alliance, Dover, Akron Ellet and Poland. Although Canfield played well in most of those contests, its 0-5 record heading into another brutal battle at Niles was not a shock. What was a shock, however, were the happenings at Bo Rein Stadium last Friday evening.
Canfield senior quarterback Kimu Kim played the game of his, or anyone else's, career rushing for 497 yards and an Ohio high school record nine touchdowns as the Cardinals outlasted the Red Dragons 70-62 in double overtime. Most importantly, Canfield's win was its first of 2013 and snapped its horrific 11-game losing streak dating back to September 2012. After the record-setting win, almost everyone with a pulse was left breathless, but after having a couple days to recover, Canfield head coach Mike Pavlansky had nothing but praise for his upstart bunch.
"I feel great for our kids," shouted Pavlansky on Sunday. "They show up every week and work hard and we were finally able to close one out. I'm proud of their perseverance."
Those kudos never stopped when Pavlansky discussed the play of his senior quarterback.
"(Kim) is a captain for a reason," Pavlansky bragged. "He's made so many plays all season. He was running the ball well so we went with what was working. He was amazing."
Kim's amazing night began with a seemingly pedestrian 8-yard touchdown run four minutes into the game that made the score 7-7. After a pair of Niles touchdowns to close out the first quarter, Kim started the second stanza with a 20-yard sprint that cut the home team's lead to 21-14. Another Red Dragon rally increased their lead to 14, but Kim continued to churn out yardage on the choppy turf and scored from 11 yards away. Right before halftime, Kim copied that 11-yard score making the game 34-28 Niles at halftime. A huge reason why Canfield's quarterback was able to control the contest was due to the play of his huge teammates along the offensive line.
"Our offensive line has been playing well all year and those guys up front did the job again (last Friday)," said Pavlansky proudly. "Even the receivers did a heck of job blocking and when he needed to, Kim was his own best blocker."
The block party continued for Kim and the Cardinals midway through the third period when the senior signal caller slithered in from 4 yards out to put the first of many second half points on the board. Niles then marched down the field to answer with a touchdown, but of course, Kim was ready to retort. With just less than nine minutes remaining in regulation, Kimu cut through the Niles defense for a 31-yard touchdown run that tied the game 42-42. What happened next may have been the biggest momentum swing of the game and, unbelievably, Canfield's quarterback was not involved.
With the Red Dragons on the move, Canfield's Aaron Jenkins jumped in front of a Niles pass, intercepted the ball and took it 55 yards to the house. That pick-six proved that although this game will forever be remembered for its offensive fireworks, a little defense here and there was needed for the eventual victory.
"Our defense played well at times," said Pavlansky seriously. "The Jenkins interception gave us back the momentum and stopped (Niles) cold. As good as Niles was moving the ball all night we were still able to make a few stops."
Needless to say, the scoring didn't stop after Jenkins' jaunt to the end zone. Following a quick breather, Kim increased Canfield's lead with a 31-yard score. Alas, the Red Dragons would not be denied and they tied the score with 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter forcing overtime. Niles took the lead on its first possession of OT, but failed when it attempted a two-point conversion. Kim then rallied the troops and plunged in from a yard out to seemingly give Canfield the winning score. Canfield's extra point attempt was blocked though, sending the game into a second extra session. Finally, after what seemed like 12 hours of action, Kim scored his record-setting ninth touchdown and the Cardinals' defense denied the Red Dragons giving Canfield its first win this year. The 132 combined points by the two clubs were the most scored by any game ever played in Trumbull County.
It is not likely that Kim, or any of his Canfield kin, can copy what they did against Niles this week against Youngstown East, but you shouldn't bet against it. The visiting Panthers are struggling with a 1-5 record themselves and are coming off a 39-0 beat down at the hands of Austintown Fitch. In fact, East has given up 142 points in its last three games, so fans at Bob Dove Field may want to have the calculators on their iPhones handy. One thing that can be counted on is that East's mission this week will be to corral Kim.
"(East) will key on Kimu so as a coaching staff we will need to figure other ways to beat them," said Pavlansky. "We won't take (East) lightly because they have played a tough schedule like ours. We need to put last week behind us and concentrate on this week."