Cardinals break Week 1 curse; beat Louisville
August 30, 2017


It's been five seasons since the Canfield football team has tasted victory in Week 1.

Last Friday in Louisville, that sad streak came to a halt. The Cardinals used a punishing rushing attack to control the contest and slam the Leopards 48-28. The win was a relief to a Cardinal club that's been longing for an opening night triumph.

"It was nice to get a Week 1 win for the first time in five years," said veteran Canfield head coach Mike Pavlansky on the morning after the game. "Now we need to see how our kids handle being 1-0 instead of 0-1."

Pavlansky's kids handled the Leopards by doing things the coach's old-school way. Canfield clobbered its hosts for nearly 500 yards rushing and 26 first downs. The most unstoppable Canfield ball carrier was quarterback Vinny Fiorenza who racked up 365 yards on the ground, including a 30-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7-7 in the first quarter. Fiorenza only threw the ball seven times, but he was efficient connecting on four of those tosses. One of the senior's throws landed in the hands of fellow senior Paul Breinz for a 42-yard touchdown. That connection happened two minutes into the second quarter to break the stalemate. Another went to junior Matt Zaremski for a 22-yard touchdown for the only score in the third period. Canfield's coach was impressed with how his QB performed in his first starting gig.

"Vinny made all his reads, which opened up the passing game a little for him," said Pavlansky.

While Fiorenza was a fantastic duel-threat, running back Breinz was as good as advertised in Week 1. Canfield's returning leading rusher ran for only 66 yards, but he was a scoring sniper finding the end zone three times. His four total touchdowns was a complement to how well every Cardinal did with their assignments in Louisville.

"I loved our physicality," said Pavlansky. "I can't say enough on how many good things our offensive line did. Our backs and wideouts also did a great job blocking. (Because of that) we were really able to set the tone with our running game."

Pavlansky hopes for more of the same this week when the Cardinals open up at home with Alliance. The Aviators fly into Canfield after dismantling perennial playoff contender Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas 54-0 in Week 1. Alliance is led by two-way star Duce Johnson who had two touchdowns on offense and one on defense last week. Senior quarterback Howard Frazier is also a force to be reckoned with as he ran for two scores against Aquinas. The Aviators can score quickly from any spot on the field, as they did when taking a 40-0 first half lead over Aquinas. That's why Pavlansky was aiming to clean up a couple of big mistakes from last Friday's contest this week in practice.

"We need to eliminate penalties," Pavlansky noted. "We had six for 60 yards that allowed (Louisville) two short scores. We can't give Alliance a short field like that, especially with their speed. We also need to work on some little positional things."

Canfield's kids did all the little things correctly in last season's 45-21 win over the Aviators. If the Redbirds want to win their second consecutive game to start this season, they'll have to do some of the same things they did against Alliance last September.

"We've built a nice little rivalry (with Alliance)," Pavlansky said. "We know they are well coached and play hard. We need to be in right spots defensively or it can be a long night."


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