By Ryan Jones
Howland coach Dick Angle said it best when he described what allowed his squad to overcome a mediocre first half against Canfield, “We had No. 4 [De’Veon Smith] on our team.”
Smith, who entered the contest needing 156 rushing yards to become Trumbull County’s all-time leader, raced to 267 yards on 26 carries and scored three touchdowns to help Howland (7-2) post a 31-17 victory against Canfield (2-7).
“I owe it to my offensive line and the wide receivers for blocking downfield for me,” said Smith, who passed Jimmy Rasey of Champion and Southington, who rushed for 6,335 yards. “Those big runs don’t happen without my teammates selling out and blocking for me.
“I want to give a shout out to my older brothers [Maurice and Lance]. Growing up they were the ones I looked up to. I’ve watched tons of their football film over the years to learn the ropes.”
A 5-yard touchdown run by Jake Cole coupled with Bryan Kristan’s 27-yard field goal at the 9:03 mark of the second quarter staked Canfield to a 10-0 lead. The Tigers ran only 13 offensive plays in the first half.
“Minus two big plays we did some great things in the first half,” said Cardinals coach Mike Pavlansky. “The touchdown on special teams and the toss play to Smith for a touchdown were really the only negatives.”
On the next play after Kristan’s field goal, Christopher Maze returned the Cardinals kickoff 74-yards for a touchdown that cut the margin to 10-7.
After the teams traded touchdowns to leave Canfield with a 17-14 advantage at intermission, Smith took over.
Smith, a verbal commit to Michigan, accounted for all 61 yards on the opening drive of the second half, and capped off the possession with a 5-yard touchdown run. He finished the scoring for the Tigers on a 37-yard score in the fourth quarter.
“He’s a super back,” he said. “I don’t know of anyone in the state that has a four-year career going like he does right now. He’s never had a bad game for us in four years. But his best asset is his humility. He never puts himself in front of the team. He never talked about breaking the Trumbull County record.”
Pavlansky said he’s glad Smith is headed to Michigan because that means he won’t have to game plan for him in the future.
“All kidding aside, he’s a heck of a back,” he said. “Certainly he will go down as one of the best to ever play the position in our league, but Smith wasn’t the only reason we lost tonight. Howland is a better team than us and they showed that tonight.”