NEWTON — Residents of Canton and Galva have waited their whole lives to see their football team win a state championship. After long last, the Eagles have their first state championship. And it was worth the wait.
Saturday at Newton High School’s Fischer Field saw perhaps the most improbable comeback of not only the season, but in recent memory. Down 36-0 in the first half, Canton-Galva dominated the end of the second quarter and the entire second half to win the 8-Man Division I State Championship 66-36 over St. Francis. The Eagles were in serous trouble of losing by mercy rule in the first half. Instead, Canton-Galva caps off its most impressive football season ever with a 13-0 record and a state championship.
St. Francis did not do anything fancy. Behind senior Brady Dinkel, St. Francis rushed the ball 61 times out of 69 plays. On a gusty, yet sunny, Saturday morning, the run-heavy offense was clicking early.
The Canton-Galva offense did its best to help St. Francis out. The Eagles committed four turnovers in the first half. The Indians turned those into 30 points.
Down 36-0 with under two minutes remaining in the half, senior Landon Everett rushed for a one-yard touchdown to get the Eagles on the board. Canton-Galva recovered a fumble on defense shortly after, and Everett wasted no time finding sophomore Tyson Struber for a 26-yard touchdown. In less than 40 seconds, Canton-Galva scored 14 points to earn momentum heading into the half.
The momentum was no joke. The Eagles forced four turnovers in the second half, five total, and turned all the turnovers into points.
Canton-Galva scored twice in the third quarter - both times Everett found Struber for a long touchdown. Down by 10 entering the fourth quarter, Everett broke free on a 60-yard rushing touchdown to bring the game within two. Canton-Galva completed the comeback on a nine-yard touchdown run from Everett. The senior-star would score once more on the ground from 27 yards out, while junior Brayden Collins rushed for two touchdowns in the game’s final 4:47.
There is no doubt the connection between Everett and Struber is the most lethal in 8-Man Division I. Struber caught eight passes for 188 yards and three touchdowns. Whenever Everett needed a third-down conversion, he always looked Struber’s way.
Everett finished 10 of 19 for 197 yards and three passing touchdowns. He also rushed for 148 yards and four more scores.
Defensively, the Eagles were excellent for most of the game, even in the first half. The Canton-Galva defense was put in some tough situations early, but kept St. Francis from entering the red zone the entire second half. The Eagles gave up 253 yards on the ground, but zero yards through the air.
Canton-Galva finished as sub-state runner up last season and did not graduate a single senior. This season, the Eagles graduate Everett, Kinser Colgin, Cyler Johnson, Andre Patton, Mason Reedy, Nick Pearson, and Jay Nightingale. The Eagles return key pieces, including Struber, Collins, Brandon Huff and others.
Canton-Galva finishes the year 13-0 while St. Francis ends its season at 12-1.