Canton-Galva is now 6-1 after defeating Solomon, 38-20.
CANTON — It was the best game of football Canton-Galva High School has played in over a decade. As a result, the Eagles are district champions and will host a playoff game this season.
Led by Landon Everett and a lights-out Canton-Galva defense, the Eagles handed Solomon its first loss of the season, 38-20, on a bitter night in Canton. The two teams have played each other every year since Solomon joined 8-Man in 2010, and this is Canton-Galva’s first win over the Gorillas.
Second-year head coach Shelby Hoppes has turned this program in a complete 180. The Eagles are now winners of six straight games and champions of District 4.
“It’s really all about the kids; they put in the work and it shows,” Hoppes said. “It started this spring then proceeded with summer weights. I challenged them week after week to get better and they have.”
The Eagles were impressive all night long. They did not flinch when Solomon struck first on an eight-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter. They answered right back with a 15-yard touchdown run from Everett to tie the game at six.
Solomon re-took the lead midway through the second off a 36-yard touchdown pass. The play was made possible by Solomon quarterback Braden Neilson extending the play and finding a man through busted coverage deep downfield.
Neilson, who is a true dual-threat quarterback and an outstanding athlete, was contained by the Canton-Galva defense from that moment on.
After Solomon had sucked the life out of the crowd and went up 14-6, Tyson Struber swung the momentum back in favor of Canton-Galva by returning the ensuing kickoff 68 yards for the touchdown.
The Eagles trailed 14-12 after the missed two-point conversion, but would go on to outscore Solomon 12-0 in the final 6:43 of the half to take a 24-14 lead into break. Everett scored one touchdown with his feet and scored the other on a perfect pass to Struber from 28-yards as the first half expired.
Not only did Canton-Galva avoid a letdown in the second half, the defense kept Solomon off the scoreboard until the 4:26 mark of the fourth quarter. By then, the offense accumulated 14 more points, both runs by Everett, as a close game quickly became a one-sided affair.
To go along with 10-of-17 passing, 147 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions, Everett added 118 yards on the ground and four rushing touchdowns.
Hoppes gave high praise to his junior quarterback, and rightfully so.
“He’s a very special football player; I would put him up there with any other player in the state,” Hoppes said. “He might be a bit undersized, but he plays with the heart of a champion.”
Going into the game, many would have thought the Eagles would need a near-perfect game to defeat a traditional power in Solomon. However, the Eagles did make small mistakes, which was evident in 90 penalty yards and a one-for-six success rate on two-point conversions.
It is worth noting the Eagles did not turn the ball over while forcing two turnovers themselves, but Hoppes knows his team can play even better than they did Friday night.
“We didn’t play our best game and it showed in some aspects,” Hoppes said. “But we were physical and the guys found a way to win.”
The Eagles will host the fourth-place team in District 3, which at the moment looks to be either Lebo (4-3) or Maranatha Academy (5-2), in the first round of the playoffs.
Before Canton-Galva can get its full attention to the playoffs, they have to finish off the regular season by traveling to Herington. The Railers are 2-5 this season and in last place in the district.