By ryan buck
East coach Jim Vivo wasn’t sure of the last time a Youngstown City School beat Canfield. His best guess was that one of coach Ron Berdis’ Chaney squads last held that honor.
With a 19-0 triumph over the Cardinals on Friday night at Bob Dove Stadium, East left no doubt it was a deserving team to stake to that claim.
The Panthers (3-4) had their offense clicking from their opening drive, and scored all 19 of their points in the opening half.
“We made a quarterback change this week and decided to go with Rayfield Bell,” Vivo said. “We wanted to get the ball to our guys out in space. James Merchant, Taylor Johnson, and Jamir Humphrey are hard to cover on the outside.”
With a 7-0 lead in the second quarter, Bell hit Humphrey on a wide receiver screen at about the 44-yard line. The 6-foot-3 quarterback-turned-wide receiver did the rest as he raced 44 yards for a touchdown and a 13-0 advantage.
“We noticed that Canfield was playing off with their corners,” Vivo said. “By spreading the formation out with multiple receivers we forced them to either play man or some type of cover-3. Rayfield did a good job getting the ball to our playmakers’ hands.”
East’s other offensive standout was tailback Derrick Tensley, who rushed for 96 yards and two scores in the first half. Tensley opened the scoring when he pounded in from 4 yards, and showed his speed to the edge on a 37-yard run that gave East a 19-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
Vivo said Tensley went down with an ankle injury on his last rush of the first half, and was held out the rest of the game.
“I’ve coached some great running backs in my career,” Vivo said. “And I mean this as no disrespect to those guys, but Derrick Tensley is the best I’ve had.”
Canfield coach Mike Pavlansky said his team knew containing East’s speed was going to play a large part in the outcome.
“We knew we had to slow down the Tensley kid,” he said. “We didn’t expect Bell — who played a nice game — to start at quarterback, but we knew we had to slow down whoever was back behind center. The other part of our problem was that we didn’t sustain any drives on offense to help our defense out. In the first half our offense was pretty much non-existent.”
Nick Annichenni led the Cardinals (2-5) with 50 yards on 15 carries, and junior Jake Cole, who came off the bench, had 47 passing yards.
Bell completed 8 of 16 passes for 198 yards and a touchdown, while Merchant led all receivers with three catches for 107 yards.
Vivo said the Panthers have room improvement as they enter the final third of the season.
“We’ve got to clean up the penalties,” he said about the 10 flags thrown again his team. “We haven’t been disciplined enough. We go to play a very good St. Thomas Aquinas team next week, and this season in every game against good competition, the penalties we’ve committed have come back to haunt us.”