Cards must replace
stellar senior class
By Tom Williams
The 2017 Canfield High School football team enjoyed a dream season, rattling off 12 straight wins then coming up three points short against Akron SVSM in the Division III, Region 9 title game.
This year’s team also will feature dreams coming true — different dreams. Younger players will be stepping up for playing time after the graduation of one of the Cardinals’ most talented senior classes.
“I’m so excited — I can’t wait,” senior quarterback Max Dawson said Thursday.
Dawson admits that a lot of talented players have moved on but the Cardinals are looking to reload.
“Our senior class, coming up, we never lost a game [in] seventh, eighth, ninth grade. [Junior varsity], we were always good,” Dawson said.
Among the key players who graduated are Vinny Fiorenza, Paul Breinz, Angelo Petracci, Dave Crawford, Dom Gelonese, Joe Hanniford, Dan Kapalko, Paul French, Nick Ieraci, Will Dawson, Tyler Dobrint and Sam Accordino.
“Vinny had a great season last year,” said Max Dawson, one of the Cardinals’ seven two-year letter-winners returning. “We had a lot of great leaders last year [who] showed us all how to react, how to handle ourselves.”
Citing Petracci and Breinz, senior linebacker Colin Hritz said, “I learned a lot from them.”
It’s time to see if those lessons sunk in.
“For everyone outside of our team, their expectations [for us] aren’t high,” senior linebacker Tyler Stein said. “But I think [within] our team, our expectations are very high.
“I think we have something to prove.”
Stein, Hritz and Dawson are two-year letter-winners as are Vince Giordano, Matt Zaremski, Ian Kristan and Jarod Tincher.
For his 18th season at Canfield, head coach Mike Pavlansky (152-85) has four starters returning on each side of the ball. His teams have won seven league titles.
Pavlansky said the Cardinals’ strengths are at wide receiver and defensive line.
The Cardinals run the Pro I.
Joining Zaremski at wide receiver are Cole Murrell, Paris Bumgardner and Joe Marzano. Hritz will get time at running back and slot receiver but his preference is linebacker.
“I just have a nose for the ball, I like hitting people, making plays,” Hritz said.
Canfield usually lines up in a 4-3.
Anchoring the defensive line are returning starters Giordano, Anthony D’Alesio and Richie Hofus. Last season, Stein played defensive end, but would drop back to linebacker for some schemes.
Zaremski, who also plays safety, said the defense is ahead of the offense.
“We have more experience on defense,” Zaremski said.
Kristan has punting experience. Jad Jadallah is competing with Kristan for kicker. Accordino scored 66 points last season.
For the immediate future, this is the last time the Cardinals will be competing for a league crown. After football season ends, seven All-American Conference teams (Poland, Hubbard, Niles, Struthers, Girard, Lakeview and Jefferson) are leaving to create (with South Range) the North East 8 conference.
“We’re excited that we still get to play Poland,” Stein said of the Week 10 showdown that will be the final time the rival schools play any time soon.
Last season, Canfield capped its unbeaten regular season with a 38-0 victory over Poland.
“Everybody was doing what they were supposed to, we had a lot of energy,” Stein said.
Providing bulletin board material was a Vindy Blitz picker who selected Poland.
“Somebody in the paper picked us to lose so we got excited for that [snub],” Stein said.
Zaremski appreciates that his senior class is the final one to play Poland.
“It [stings] for the younger kids, I guess,” Zaremski said. “They won’t have the [Canfield-Poland] rivalry.”
Stein said going unbeaten “was a lot of fun. I don’t think anyone expected us to do what we did.”
Pavlansky’s pick to win the AAC Red? Poland.