SV-SM a challenge for Cards
CANFIELD — 111-6, that is the combined score of the two wins Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary has had in its first two football playoff games. The Irish beat Akron Springfield, 68-0, and last week whipped West Geauga, 48-6.
Arguably, it’s the biggest challenge Canfield (7-0) has had this season and it comes tonight in the Division III, Region 9 postseason.
The Irish (5-2) are a multi-dimensional team, something they showed when they amassed 412 yards (275 rushing) against a one-loss West Geauga team.
Senior Josh Nickerson (5-foot-10, 190 pounds) had 23 carries for 126 yards and two scores for the Irish, while senior quarterback Evan Pelfrey (6-1, 225) was 6-for-11 for 137 yards and three scores. One of those touchdown passes was a Hail Mary to 6-5 senior receiver Dalen Burney from near midfield, right before halftime.
“They have skill to match that,” Canfield coach Mike Pavlansky said. “Guys are physical. They certainly want to run the ball first. They have some skill on the outside where they can throw the football.”
SV-SM is 2-0 against Canfield prior to tonight’s matchup. Canfield lost to the Irish at Green Street Stadium in Akron, 49-28, on Nov. 6, 2015, in a Division III, Region 7 first-round game, while SV-SM eked out a 13-10 win in a Division III, Region 9 final Nov. 17, 2017, in Salem.
Canfield is coming off a 28-10 victory last week over Kenston, a team which beat them in a regional final in 2018.
The Cardinals didn’t allow a touchdown until 18 seconds remained. Canfield hasn’t allowed more than 10 points in five of its seven games.
Offensively, the Cardinals have their own multi-prong attack led by sophomore quarterback Broc Lowry (6-2, 183). He has over 800 yards passing and 800 yards rushing this season with 14 touchdowns.
Senior Ethan Fletcher is Lowry’s favorite target with 29 receptions for 321 yards.
“It certainly helps keep people away from you a little bit and ganging up on the line of scrimmage,” Pavlansky said. “There’s no doubt about it, when push comes to shove, we have a bunch of seniors up front that do a good job for us. We’re going to rely on those guys to hopefully sustain drives Friday night.”
Fletcher, senior Chris Sammarone (6-0, 205) and junior Mike Crawford (5-10, 201) have 369, 321 and 229 yards rushing, respectively.
Seniors Nick Hewko, Mike Minenok and Andrew Morchak have solidified the line, leading a strong corps of offensive linemen.
“It doesn’t matter who’s running the ball, who’s throwing the ball,” Pavlansky said. “If you don’t protect them. It doesn’t matter what plays you’re calling.
“We think this is going to be slugfest for 48 minutes. The team that’s going to make one more play than the other team is probably going to win.”