COLDWATER—The feel-good story of the season will continue as the CantonGalva High School football team won their 10th straight game on Friday with a 54-52 victory in overtime over South Central on the road in the cold at Coldwater.
With the win, the Eagles earned the Sectional Championship and are now 10-1 for the season as they head into the semifinals of the Kansas 8-Man Division I State Playoffs where they will be matched up with Solomon (10-1), a team that Canton-Galva handed their only loss of the season to with a 38-20 victory on October 12. It will be Canton-Galva’s first appearance in the state semifinals since 1991.
Junior Eagle quarterback, Landon Everett, was the offensive juggernaut as he ran the ball 49 times for 231 yards and six touchdowns while also completing 6-of-14 passes for another 74 yards and a score.
The game began with the Eagles driving the length of the field for an Everett score to take an early 8-0 lead, before South Central bounced back to connect for a 69-yard pass play to tie the score at 8-8 with just a hair over a minute left in the quarter.
Fireworks began to fly in the second quarter when seven touchdowns were recorded with Canton-Galva and South Central exchanging two scores each, all coming from runs by their quarterbacks, before South Central added another pair of touchdowns to take a commanding 38-20 lead. The Eagles did not back down and drove down into the Timberwolves red zone where Everett connected with freshman Tyson Struber for a seven-yard score as time ran out, bringing the Eagles back to within 12 at 38-26 going into the halftime break.
The Eagles came out of the halftime break with defensive adjustments and a continued feeding of Everett on offense as they scored twice in the third quarter on runs by Struber and Everett to take a two-point, 40-38 lead into the final stanza. Canton-Galva scored first in the fourth quarter, but failed to convert the extra points, while South Central made their two-point conversion on a touchdown to end the game knotted up at 46-46, sending it into overtime.
While South Central scored on their first attempt on offense, they failed for just the second time on their two-point conversion which left the door open for the Eagles and they responded with a short drive and Everett’s sixth rushing score of the game. According to Coach Hoppes, they told Struber the extra-point conversion play would be him making a dash for the corner of the end zone and he did, stretching the ball over the goal line to give the Eagles just their third two-point conversion score in eight attempts on the night and the overtime victory.
“Overall we moved the ball well, we just kept hurting ourselves,” noted Eagle Head Coach Shelby Hoppes. “At times we would just shoot ourselves in the foot with a bad penalty or a fumble. We only passed 14 times while we carried the game with our running. At halftime, we did a solid job of making adjustments to shut down their outside run game.”
It was game where the spectators got their worth in admission despite the frigid cold weather as the two teams combined for 143 offensive plays with Canton/Galva running 88 of those, while a total of just one-yard separated the two teams in yardage with South Central getting 386 yards and the Eagles gaining 385. The Eagles recorded 31 first downs to the Timberwolves 20 and had over 29 minutes of offensive possession. The stats that showed just how close the game was played came in the fact that Canton-Galva completed 56% of their third-down conversions and all three of their fourth-down attempts, while South Central made 60% of their third-down attempts and their only fourth-down conversion.
Individually, sophomore Brayden Collins kept the Timberwolves defense honest by complementing Everetts running with 60 yards of his own on 16 carries, while Struber was on the receiving end of all six completed passes.
On defense, the Eagles picked off South Central’s quarterback, Chayde Snyder, three times in the game giving them 27 interceptions for the season which ties the all-time 8-Man season record in Kansas. Collins, Struber and Everett each picked off a pass, with the interceptions by Struber and Everett, they each now have 10 picks on the season.
While Canton-Galva will travel to Solomon on Friday in one of the 8-Man Division I semifinals, the other bracket will be decided by the winner of the game between Central Plains (11-0) and the winner of the Saturday matchup between Hodgeman County (9-1) and St. Francis (10-0).
Looking toward the semi-final battle, Coach Hoppes concluded his post-game reflections by saying, “Solomon is a really good team who runs a very balanced offensive attack. It’s never a coach’s wish to play a team twice in the same season, but it is the game we’ve been dealt, we were able to shut down their running game in October when we played them while also making some big plays of our own. Hopefully we can do it again.”
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