Ron Serrano led Chaney to its second straight win, 13-7.
By CHUCK HOUSTEAU
CANFIELD -- Chaney High quarterback Juan Serrano knows the importance of good defense and special teams play in a close football game.
That's why the 5-foot-9, 160-pound quarterback prefers to be on the field the entire game.
Serrano's all-around performance Friday, including a 40-yard punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter, helped the Cowboys (2-0) escape with a hard-fought 13-7 win over host Canfield.
The senior, who patiently waited in the wings while former quarterback Brad Smith guided the Cowboys the last several years, threw for 110 yards on five of 12 passes, ran 40 yards on 20 carries, contributed 10 tackles and recovered a fumble from his defensive back position.
"We have a lot of players that go both ways," Serrano said. "It's great to be able to contribute any way I can.
"Our coaches are always preaching about how defense and special teams are important in a close game," he said. "At the time, it seemed like the score on special teams might be the back breaker in this game."
Second half charge: Although the score late in the second period gave the Cowboys a 13-0 lead, the Cardinals still had plenty of fight left to make a strong second-half charge at Chaney.
Canfield (1-1) took the second half kickoff and marched 67 yards on 11 plays before quarterback Leo Sorice connected with Dan Leonard on a 5-yard scoring play.
Leonard's extra-point kick with 5:15 remaining in the third quarter cut the Chaney lead to 13-7.
Following Serrano's fumble recovery late in the third quarter, Chaney marched to the Canfield 17 before turning the ball over on downs.
Chaney sealed the game with a drive that consumed eight minutes in the fourth quarter.
The Cowboys ran off 15 plays and converted three fourth-down plays before stalling at the Canfield 10.
A 27-yard field goal attempt by Charles Jaminet sailed wide right and Canfield had one last chance to gain a win with 3:05 left in the game.
"That drive was critical even though we didn't get any points," Chaney coach Ron Berdis said.
"We were able to keep the ball out of their hands long enough to get the win."
Costly fumble: The Cardinals quickly ran off eight plays before Chaney's Ed McElroy recovered a Canfield fumble near midfield to end the threat.
"We never have an easy time when we come here to play," Berdis said.
"We had a lot of opportunities tonight, but we also missed a lot of plays."
Chaney ran off 60 plays to 39 for Canfield.
In the first half, Chaney held a 192-26 total yards advantage over the Cardinals.
"It's a credit to our kids that they never quit," Canfield first-year coach Mike Pavlansky said.
"It's something that we take pride in and I think you saw how strong an effort we made in the second half."
Canfield rebounded behind the strong running of juniors Tim Dewberry and Mike Turjanica, who rushed for 56 and 34 yards, respectively.