CANTON — The hype surrounding the Canton-Galva High School football team is real, and Little River High School experienced it first hand.
Led by star senior quarterback Landon Everett and standout sophomore wide receiver Tyson Struber, Canton-Galva is off to a 1-0 start after defeating Little River, 70-23, Friday night in Canton. Senior Andre Patton scored on a four-yard run with 3:09 left in the fourth quarter to initiate the mercy rule.
Canton-Galva head coach Shelby Hoppes knows his offense will be hard to defend this season.
“There’s a lot of weapons for sure,” Hoppes said. “It’s going to be hard to shut all of them down.”
Struber, who is listed at 6-2, 176, had a breakout freshman season last year. In year two it is clear Struber has taken his game to a new level.
Struber had four total touchdowns — all in the first half —after leading Canton-Galva in touchdown receptions last season.
Struber has been a beast in the weight room over the summer and Hoppes believes it showed on the field Friday night.
“When you put on 20 pounds of muscle, and the confidence you gain from that, this is kind of the performance you expect to have.”
It was Everett to Struber early and often. The Eagles took the first drive of the games the length of the field in four plays, capped off by a 24-yard touchdown run from Struber.
After a Little River three-and-out, Canton-Galva methodically marched down the field and capped off an impressive drive with a one-yard touchdown pass from Everett to Struber.
The duo was not done there as Everett hit his main target in stride for a 28-yard touchdown pass with 7:21 left in the first half.
The very next Little River play, Everett jumped a receivers route and took the interception 33 yards for a touchdown, extending the Canton-Galva lead to 28.
Little River’s Graham Stephens found Jayden Garrison for a 60-yard touchdown on their next possession to cut into the lead, but the Eagles responded with a five-yard touchdown run from Struber.
Stephens answered back with an impressive 65-yard touchdown run, but Everett responded with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Kinser Colgin late in the half.
The first half ended with Little River snapping the ball over the punters head into the back of the end zone for a safety.
Up 44-12, Canton-Galva scored on its first possession of the second half on an Everett draw play from the three. Stephens would hook up with Garrison one more time for Little River’s final touchdown, but Everett, Patton, and Brayden Collins would all score rushing touchdowns before the game was over.
“We preach all the time to be the most physical team on the field,” Hoppes said. “Tonight I believe we were for most of the game, if not the entire game.”
For Little River and first-year head coach Kevin Ayers, Friday night was a humbling experience. Ayers is confident his team will respond positively to the loss.
“It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” Ayers said. “And right now this is pretty glaring, but come Monday we’re going to shake it off, and we will put a much better football team on the field next week.”
Canton-Galva is on the road at Chase County next week, while Little River hosts Peabody-Burns.