For the first time since 2008, the Canfield Cardinals have beaten Howland on the football field.
Using another remarkable rushing performance by senior quarterback Kimu Kim, the Cardinals handled Howland and a hostile Howland home crowd 28-7 on Oct. 25. The once-struggling Cardinals have now won three out of their last four games, which has brightened an otherwise dark season.
"I'm really happy for our kids," said Canfield head coach Mike Pavlansky. "We played well on both sides of the ball. It was our best effort of the year."
Canfield's enormous effort began on its second possession of the ballgame. Do-everything offensive weapon Aaron Jenkins took the ball on a sweep and sped 64 yards for the Cardinals' first score. With a 7-0 lead in Howland the Cardinals were able to relax and not be overwhelmed in an environment that has been as spooky to them as the Canfield Scaregrounds.
"That play by Jenkins was big," admitted Pavlansky. "There was some great blocking by our wideouts especially Jake Dawson. Then (Jenkins) made a great athletic play. That play gave us confidence."
Coach Pavlansky has been confident all season whenever Kim has the ball in his hands and Canfield's offensive leader once again showed why in Howland. Acting as a tailback, Kim took a pitch from Jenkins and gave the Cardinals' their second score with a 24-yard run. Kim would add touchdown totes of 10 and 44 yards in the third quarter to give the visitors an insurmountable three-touchdown advantage. Canfield would compile nearly 450 yards on the ground with Kim leading the way with 288 yards. Jenkins' long jaunt in the first quarter spearheaded his 97-yard rushing total. All of those yards on the ground put a grin on coach Pavlansky's face, as did the blocking by the big boys on the interior line.
"The offensive line did a great job," said the coach. "When we run well it usually starts up front."
The Cardinals' boss was also up front when discussing the performance of his kids on the other side of the ball. Canfield's defense held Howland to only 150 total yards and, aside from on nice drive by the Tigers before halftime that resulted in their only score, the hosts were humbled offensively.
"Our defense played well," Pavlansky noted. "Whenever you go (to Howland) and hold that team down you have done a good job."
If the job Canfield's defense did at Howland was good, the effort the 2-2 Cardinals need this week to finish above .500 in the All American Conference may be of the Herculean variety. Coming to Canfield this Friday will be undefeated conference leaders Hubbard. The 9-0 Eagles are coming off a 70-42 clobbering of Canal Fulton last Friday night and bring weapons from all angles.
"(Hubbard) is the best team in the league for a reason," said Pavlansky. "They are well coached and have great athletes. They are so much more than just L.J. Scott."
That statement by Canfield's coach is a scary one because Scott is one of the most sensational running backs in the state. He killed Canal Fulton with 355 yards on the ground and three touchdowns (Scott also had an interception return for a score). In fact, Hubbard can match Canfield run for run as exemplified by its 530 yard total from a week ago.
A win over the Eagles would not only give the Cardinals a fourth win since starting the season 0-5, but it would also send their seniors out on a spectacular note.
"It will be Senior Night so it will be a special night for us," Pavlansky explained. "We want to make it a great night at our place."