Akron SVSM rallies to defeat Canfield
By Brian Dzenis
Canfield’s class of 2017 is a collection of players who would probably have better individual numbers if they were a little more selfish.
Players like running back Paul Breinz, quarterback Vinny Fiorenza and receiver/defensive back Matt Zaremski are just a few Canfield players who have just as much talent as anyone in the area with gaudy stats. But the number that will be best remembered among the Cardinals is 12-1.
“We’ve always been unselfish. We always wanted to see the team succeed,” linebacker Angelo Petracci said. “We’re not ‘I or me’ guys. Stats aren’t really a big deal and we wanted to win the game at the end of the day, whatever it takes.”
Canfield’s unbeaten streak fell after Akron St. Vincent-Saint Mary rallied from a halftime deficit to beat the Cardinals, 13-10, in the Division III, Region 9 final.
Trailing 10-0 at halftime, the Irish (10-3) got a jolt of life when Russell Cooper III returned the opening kick of the third quarter 97 yards for a touchdown.
“Credit to the special teams guys for blocking and Russell for running fast,” Irish coach Marcus Wattley said.
Canfield had opportunities to bury SVSM in the third quarter, but fell short. Paul French recovered an Irish fumble to put the Cardinals at the Irish 33, but Canfield fumbled. Nick Ieraci intercepted SVSM quarterback Luke Lindsay, but the best the Cardinals could do was Sam Accordino’s 40-yard field goal attempt, which struck the crossbar and fell short. Fiorenza was intercepted twice.
“There were missed opportunities in a game like this where you have two good teams going at it,” Canfield coach Mike Pavlansky said. “They made one more play than we did.”
That play was Lindsay’s 14-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Jalen Ross in the corner of the end zone. That score gave the Irish the lead with eight minutes to play. Lindsay, a sophomore, threw for 194 yards and a pick to go with the previously mentioned touchdown.
SVSM’s sophomore duo teamed up to beat one of Canfield’s winningest senior classes.
“It’s fortunate that they can make plays now. A lot of people doubted us in the playoffs and if we’re not in the playoffs, you’re not going to see these kids make these plays,” Wattley said. “People might want to see more, but right now they’re making plays when it’s survive and advance.”
Canfield struck first after SVSM punter Garrett Bischof dropped a snap late in the first quarter. Bischof picked up the ball in time to see Vince Giordano and Anthony D’Alesio bearing down on him for a tackle.
The play put Canfield at SVSM’s 24. The Cardinals marched to the Irish doorstep, but after two attempts to punch in the score up the middle, Paul French found the end zone on a reverse.
Fiorenza rushed for 107 yards while Breinz added 63. P.J. Hallof had two tackles for a loss and a sack on defense.
“This was the best year of my life. We’re obviously upset that we couldn’t finish the job here,” Petracci said. “Looking at what we accomplished — top three in all-time wins as a class and we’re the second team to make it this far.
“You have to view the positives in a bad time like this.”