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Canfield routs DC-area Trainers

CANFIELD — They’re careful not to mention the “P” word inside the Canfield Cardinals’ locker room.

It’s hard to not talk about the playoffs considering the Cardinals went 11-2 and advanced to the third round of the Division III playoffs last season. Although an outstanding senior class graduated, there’s enough talent on the roster to think a return to the playoffs is a distinct possibility.

“Of course the playoffs is always a goal for us, but it’s not like we talk about it a lot,” senior offensive and defensive lineman Richie Hofus said after Canfield improved to 2-1 with a 43-0 win Friday over the McKinley Tech Trainers of Washington, D.C. “What we talk about a lot here is play every play like it’s your last. Just go 1-0 every week. If you have that mentality where our only goal is to play to the best of our ability every week, we will achieve our goal to make the playoffs.”

The first bit of adversity for the Cardinals hit the previous week with a 33-30 loss to Dover. That game followed a 24-21 win over Louisville in the season opener.

There was never a doubt against the outmanned Trainers, who headed east with a 0-3 record. Canfield opened the scoring on the third play from scrimmage when senior tailback Nick Crawford ran 73 yards for a touchdown. The Cardinals scored at ease in opening a 36-0 halftime lead, which led to a running clock and plenty of work for backups in the second half.

“Our goals are always the same,” Cardinals coach Mike Pavlansky said. “We need to improve every week. I thought we did that tonight in every aspect of the game. There are certainly things we’ve got to clean up.”

The Cardinals can hit opponents offensively with two distinctly different styles. They opened against the Trainers with Ethan Fletcher at quarterback and pounding the ball to Crawford. At times Pavlansky inserted Jackson Crist at quarterback and went with an empty set and a pass-heavy attack.

“We’re a multi-faceted offense,” Pavlansky said. “Tonight we dabbled in some things as far as the no-huddle was concerned and throwing the ball. Ethan and Jackson both bring something different to the table, but Ethan can throw it and Jackson can run it if need be.”

There’s no question that much of the offense runs through Crawford, a 6-foot, 200-pound back with speed and power. He suffered a shoulder injury late in the first quarter and didn’t return, but by then he had accumulated 108 yards on six carries.

“He’s a special back, there’s no doubt about that,” Pavlansky said. “The first couple of games we relied on him. Tonight he was dinged up a little bit but we have some other guys we can go to if need be.”

Hofus is a big part of a defense that was dominant.

“For the past three years that I’ve been on this team, our strength defensively has been our front seven,” Hofus said. “Our linebackers have always been solid. Our defensive backs are good, but they’re inexperienced. That’s an area where we’re looking to improve each week and to gel as a family and get more comfortable as a unit.”

Fletcher scored on a 39-yard run to extend the lead to 14-0 in the first quarter. Michael Crawford powered in from 2 yards out to open the second quarter and push the lead to 21-0.

A high snap out of the end zone by the Trainers resulted in a safety and a 23-0 Canfield advantage.

Michael Crawford added three more touchdowns on runs of 2, 16 and 8 yards to close out the scoring.