COLDWATER—In what could be the top feel good story of the season, the Canton-Galva football team will look to continue their run deep into the state 8-Man Division I playoffs on Friday when they travel southwest to Coldwater to battle with South Central High School, just one more game to win before the opportunity to play in the state semifinals.
The idea that the Eagles are 9-1 on the season and riding a nine-game victory streak is remarkable when you look back and remember that just three seasons earlier Canton-Galva was in such a poor position of being competitive that they had to forfeit a game because they did not have enough players to field a team that night. When they take the field on Friday the Eagles will do so without a single senior on the roster while being led by eight juniors, six sophomores and four freshmen.
Canton-Galva began the march through the playoffs with a 54-6 win over Lebo before really getting the attention of 8-Man Division I football by thrashing Burlingame, a team that had made the state semi-finals three years in a row, 74-26. The Eagles out played and out ran the Bearcats to the tune of a 44-20 halftime lead before marching on by adding another 30 points in the third to advance to Friday’s matchup with the Timberwolves.
“We have stayed healthy so far except for those late season nicks and bruises,” noted Eagle Head Coach Shelby Hoppes. “The guys were on such an emotional high after beating Burlingame that we gave them most of the weekend off, getting together late Sunday afternoon for some look at game film before getting back on the field on Monday to get ready for the next game on Friday.”
Leading the Eagles when they have the ball is junior Landon Everett who single handily dismantled Burlingame last week with 348 yards in total offense while accounting for all nine Eagle scores, three by way of the pass and another six on the run. For the season, Everett has accounted for 2,479 yards in offense, with 1,405 of those yards coming on the ground and the remaining 1,074 by throwing the ball. Everett has had a hand in an amazing 306 points on the scoreboard this season with 33 rushing scores, passing for 15 touchdowns and getting three more scores on defense and kick returns.
Sophomore Brayden Collins has proven to be a top sidekick to Everett on offense as he has run for 777 yards, while freshman Tyson Struber has been Everett’s top receiver, catching 47 passes for 639 yards and nine scores.
Another sophomore, Brandon Huff, has been a menace to Eagle opponents offensive attacks by being credited with 121 tackles so far this season, 58 of those being solo stops. As a team, the Eagles defense have been ball hawks with 24 interceptions for the year, including nine picks each by Everett and Struber.
The Eagle defense will be tested on Friday as South Central also enters the game with a 9-1 mark and is riding a seven-game win streak, including two playoff shutouts over Dexter-Cedar Vale, 50-0, and Central Burden, 48-0. The Timberwolves are led by their own junior offensive juggernaut in Chayde Snyder who has accounted for 881 yards and 17 scores throwing the ball, while running for another 884 yards and 12 touchdowns.
“When we play South Central on Friday, we will be playing a team with a lot of speed,” added Coach Hoppes as he concluded his coach reflections. “They may not have a lot of size, but overall they may be the most athletic team will play all season so far. Their speed is evident at every position so we will have to use our physicality and size to counter attack it. We need to take away the big play and when we get them wrapped up, we need to bring them down by being a physical and disciplined team.”
With a victory on Friday, Canton-Galva would reach the state semifinals and play the winner of the battle between Argonia-Attica (7-3) and Solomon (9-1). The Eagles handed Solomon their only loss of the season, 38-20, in mid-October. In the other bracket of the 8-Man Division I, the matchups are Central Plains (10-0) and Hoxie (9-1) plus Hodgeman County (9-1) and St. Francis (10-0).
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