Fiorenza, Cardinals flying high early
By Brian Dzenis
In just one week, Canfield has gone to a place it hasn’t seen in years.
For the first time in six years, the Cardinals have a shot at being 2-0 after a season-opening 48-28 road rout of Louisville.
“It means a lot to us. We’ve been waiting for it to happen since our sophomore year when [Louisville] beat us by 30 points,” Canfield quarterback Vinny Fiorenza said. “To go up there and beat them by 20 points for the first time in more than 10 years is just really great.”
Last Friday’s win marks the Cardinals’ first win against the Leopards since the 2005 playoffs. The two sides began playing each other on a regular basis in 2012. In 2016, Louisville beat Canfield 21-17 on a 55-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter.
“It’s just nice to be 1-0 and our kids played well,” Canfield coach Mike Pavlansky said. “They certainly deserve the credit they’re getting right now, but hopefully they understand that it’s just one ballgame out of 10.”
The win was punctuated by a dominant debut from Fiorenza. The senior rushed for 365 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 94 yards and two more scores. He rushed for more yards against the Leopards than he did in the entire 2016 season.
“I wasn’t expecting to be that great, but our o-line just came out and made the holes and I just ran through them,” Fiorenza said. “They did great.”
Fiorenza came to Canfield High School as a wide receiver. Pavlansky made him switch to quarterback his sophomore year because the team had a need at the position. Then came his junior year, when Pavlansky offered him something he typically does not give to his players: a chance to pick where they can play.
“When we move guys, we ask them to move and they say OK. Then the next year, we go back and say ‘Where do you see yourself of the team? Where do you think you help the team the most?’” Pavlansky said. “There’s few guys like that and he was one of those guys. He was a wideout growing up and I wanted to make sure he was comfortable with the role he was going to play.”
Since making the switch from wideout, Fiorenza came to like playing quarterback. He stuck with it, even if it meant spending his junior season below former starting QB Jake Cummings on the depth chart.
“I just thought in my senior year, it’d be great to come out and start,” Fiorenza said. “I was still able to help the team on special teams and played in the slot a little bit in some games.”
Fiorenza was the team’s kick returner and saw some action on offense in six appearances his junior season. He rushed for 306 yards and four touchdowns and passed for 147 yards and two scores. He said he takes a ball carrier’s vision from his time as a kick returner to his current position.
Fiorenza’s biggest area to improve is his decision making on the field. The plays are called for him from the sideline, but once the ball is snapped, he decides on the fly how to run the option offense.
“Definitely [I have to work on] reading my keys, knowing whether to hand it off or keep it,” Fiorenza said.
The Cardinals host Alliance tonight. They beat the Aviators 45-21 last year.
“This will be the best Alliance team we face in the past five years,” Pavlansky said. “They’ll well-coached and they have great skill. If it’s a track meet we might be in trouble. Their offensive and defensive lines rotate people in and out and they all get after it.
“This will be the best second-week challenge we’ve had in a long time.”