Canfield avoids trap game against Howland
By MIKE McLAIN
There was no way the Canfield Cardinals were going to look beyond the Howland Tigers to what awaits them in the final week of the regular season.
A battle against the rival Poland Bulldogs might be a captivating thought, but Cardinals coach Mike Pavlansky knew the importance of staying on track for what could have been a trap game against the Tigers.
No one took that advice more seriously than Cardinals quarterback Vinny Fiorenza, who rushed for 188 yards and threw for 86 in a 31-10 win in an All-American Conference Red Tier game here Friday at Lombardo Field.
Fiorenza often had the option of handing off to a teammate or keeping the ball, but the senior consistently kept possession. He had 29 carries, running with the speed and determination of a running back.
“We thought that we pretty much controlled the line of scrimmage throughout the game,” Pavlansky said. “When you control the line the way we did tonight, all of our backs, especially Vinny, can get it going pretty good.”
The Cardinals remained undefeated at 9-0 and 3-0 in the Red Tier. The Tigers are 5-4 and 2-2 in the Red Tier.
Fiorenza also singled out the play of the offensive live.
“Today it was easy for me to see (openings) because the o-line played great,” Fiorenza said. “I think it was their best game of the season. They had the holes open for me. They made my job easier running the ball.”
Canfield’s best work on offense came after Howland had tied the game, 7-7, on a 93-yard touchdown run by Jackson Deemer at the 3:25 mark of the second quarter. The touchdown answered a 9-yard scoring run by Canfield’s Nick Crawford late in the first quarter.
The Cardinals followed Deemer’s score with an 84-yard, 11-play drive that resulted in a 7-yard scoring run by Fiorenza 7.7 seconds before halftime. Fiorenza had five carries for 54 yards on the drive.
Taking a 14-7 lead into halftime proved decisive as the Cardinals followed up with a dominant second half.
“I don’t want to say that was a turning point in the game, but obviously a stop there helps us out,” Tigers coach Dominic Menendez said. “They took advantage of it, got the momentum back right before the half, and it was hard to dig ourselves out of the hole.”
Fiorenza’s success on the ground set up a big play in the passing game early in the third quarter when he connected with a wide open Paul Breinz on a 40-yard touchdown pass. The point-after kick by Sam Accordino gave the Cardinals a 21-7 lead.
Canfield was back in scoring territory moments later when a high kick off couldn’t be fielded by the Tigers. Satyam Patel fell on the ball for the Cardinals at the Tigers’ 28.
Six plays later Accordino kicked a 26-yard field goal to extend the lead to 24-7.
Howland’s Luke Brancaccio showed a strong right leg with a 35-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter.
The Cardinals then marched 70 yards to score when Matt Zaremski fell on a fumble by teammate Tyler Dobrindt, who had caught a pass from Fiorenza for a gain of 28 yards to the 10. The ball was knocked from Dobrindt’s grasp and flew into the end zone.
Canfield can now set its sights on a trip east on Route 224 Friday for a showdown with 8-1 Poland.
“It doesn’t get any better than that,” Pavlansky said. “Playing them in the last game of the year, as it should be. We’re looking forward to it.”