CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – Canfield defeated Kenston (28-10) and Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (14-6) last October to advance to the Region 9 Championship tilt against top-seeded Chardon. The Hilltoppers eliminated Canfield en route to the Division III State Championship.
The Cardinals finished off the 2020 season with a 9-1 mark. The group tied the school record for most wins during a four-year stretch. From 2017-20, Canfield posted 39 wins. That matched the standard set between 2005-09 (39 wins).
Replacing last year’s senior class will be difficult.
“The faster we grow up on the defensive side of the ball and the offensive line will determine the success of our season,” Coach Mike Pavlansky said. “We have a challenging schedule once again.”
Canfield will face 224 rival Poland to kick off the season Thursday, August 19.
2020 Record: 9-1
Coach: Mike Pavlansky, 21st season at Canfield (151-69)
2020 Big 22: Broc Lowry; Chris Sammarone
Previewing Canfield’s Offense
Scoring Offense: 26.1 (31st in area)
Returning Starters: 3
Key Returnees: Michael Crawford, RB; Broc Lowry, JR/QB
Key Losses: Ethan Fletcher, ATH; Nick Hewko, OL; Michael Minenok, OL; Chris Sammarone, RB; Jonathan Schmidt, K
Name to watch for: Broc Lowry, QB
Quarterback Broc Lowry saw tremendous success last year as a sophomore. He completed 67.6% of his passes (94-139) while throwing for 1,290 yards and 7 scores. He also led the team in rushing with 1,118 yards on 155 carries (7.2 avg) and 13 touchdowns.
Last year, Michael Crawford and Ryan Schneider each contributed in the run game. Crawford carried the ball 51 times for 293 yards (3 TDs) while Schneider received 25 rushes for 145 yards (TD). They’ll be joined by Connor Julian, Toby Smith (65 rushing yards, 66 receiving yards), Paolo Papalia, Caden Kohout and Dom Marzano, who will all be seeking time in the backfield this fall.
The team graduated their top three receivers but return senior Drew Carrocce – who caught 8 passes for 179 yards (22.4 avg). Look for Conner Cerneka, Jaden Jaffer, Oliver Kovass, Zane Muckleroy, Nicolo Cocca, Jack Davis, Jack Fabry, Vince Malkovits and Gavin Ramun to all be in line for playing time at one of the receiver spots.
“Our offensive linemen are having a great off-season,” Pavlansky said. “They need to continue to progress if we have any chance of competing this year.”
Previewing Canfield’s Defense
Scoring Defense: 12.7 (2nd in area)
Returning Starters: 4
Key Returnees: Drew Carrocce, SR/LB; Toby Smith, SR/DL
Key Losses: Ethan Fletcher, DB; Conor Hritz, LB; Luke Morell, DB; Chris Sammarone, LB
Name to watch for: Toby Smith, DL
Only two teams were able to score 20 points or more against the Cardinal defense a year ago. Canfield held half of their opponents to single figures.
This season, defensive coordinator Wally Hurdley must replace seven starters.
“We’ll be very young on the defensive side of the ball. We have one lineman, one linebacker and two defensive backs returning as starters this year,” Pavlansky said. “We’ll need to grow up very quickly as we open with Poland and Dover in the first two weeks.”
Defensive linemen Toby Smith earned First-Team All-AAC honors as a junior. Drew Carrocce took home Second-Team honors. Pavlansky will also look to Michael Crawford, Broc Lowry and Oliver Kovass to be leaders for his defense.
Aug. 19 – at Poland
Aug. 27 – Dover
Sept. 3 – Cleveland JFK
Sept. 10 – at New Philadelphia
Sept. 17 – Chaney
Sept. 24 – Marion Pleasant
Oct. 1 – Fitch
Oct. 8 – East
Oct. 15 – at Howland
Oct. 22 – at Boardman