One way the Canfield football team could have erased the dreadfulness of an 0-4 start to this season was by upsetting arch rival Poland.
Those two longtime foes faced off on Sept. 27 in Poland with the winless Cardinals acting as huge underdogs against the unbeaten Bulldogs. At the end of the contest, it was evident why one team entered 0-4 and the other was 4-0. It took Poland almost eight minutes to score its first touchdown, but once it did, the Bulldogs exploded to 28 more unanswered before halftime. Poland pummeled Canfield 35-10 handing the Cardinals their fifth straight loss of the year.
In the week leading up to this showdown, Canfield head coach Mike Pavlansky insisted it was important to control the Bulldogs' rushing game. Pavlansky's pupils did a decent job doing that, but had a hard time slowing down Poland through the air.
Photos by Mike Capps, Town Crier correspondent
Luke Whittenberger runs for daylight in last week's contest against rival Poland on their home turf.
"(Poland's) passing game was on target," said Pavlansky trying to remain positive. "It's a tough game to lose because you point to this game on the schedule."
The Cardinals may have been pointing at Poland, but the Bulldogs were handing it to Canfield. Quarterback Jacob Wolfe missed on just three passes all evening and amassed 171 yards through the air with four touchdowns. Wolfe targeted three different receivers on his four TD tosses and was hardly forced into any bad throws by the invisible Canfield pass rush.
"We would have liked to have gotten more pressure (on Wolfe) to effect his passing," Pavlansky lamented. "Our play up front wasn't good."
About the only good that came out of the game for Pavlansky's squad happened after halftime. With Poland leading 35-0 the Bulldogs were able to call off the dogs a little and that allowed the Canfield kids to build some momentum. The only points in quarters three and four were scored by the visitors. That scoring started with a 35-yard Bryan Kristan field goal halfway into the third period. That three-pointer culminated a nice scoring march by the Cardinals.
"We moved the ball well and had that 15-play drive for a field goal," said Pavlansky.
Right before the final gun sounded the Cardinals sustained another nice drive. That one was finished by Luke Whittenberger who had a two-yard touchdown plunge. Whittenberger would end the game with just less than 70 yards rushing to lead the Cardinals. Aaron Jenkins was next up on the ground with 45 yards. What Canfield did in the second half at least gave coach Pavlansky something positive to review in the film room.
"We ran 33 plays (in the second half) to (Poland's) 10," Pavlansky stated. "We did a lot of good things that we will build on."
One thing the longtime coach would like to build is a better road toward the top of the All American Conference. Canfield will get a chance at that this Friday when it meets 3-2 Niles on the road. The Red Dragons have one loss in the conference at the hands of Poland and have been built into a playoff contender in recent seasons. A 48-7 blasting of Beaver Local last week has the Red Dragons primed for another top performance against the Cardinals.
"(Head Coach) Brian Shaner is doing a tremendous job over there," said Pavlansky admiringly. "Niles is well coached like all of the teams in our conference. We must go up there ready because I know they'll be ready for us."