CANTON—The reign is over for the Canton-Galva High School football team after falling to Madison High School 34-24 in Friday's 8-man Division I quarterfinals.
It has only been a year since the Eagles and Bulldogs faced off in last year's semifinals. Everything went the Eagles' way, but that wasn't the case this year.
While the undefeated Bulldogs played aggressively from the start of opening kickoff when Bryson Turner returned it for a 72-yard touchdown, the Eagles couldn't get out of their way.
Six turnovers played a part in the Eagles' defeat. Three of those turnovers were interceptions thrown by Garrett Maltbie and resulted in a pick-six. The rest of the turnovers would help set up a scoring drive for Madison.
"Going into every game, the plan is to never give other teams extra possession, and I think we gave them six," Canton-Galva head coach Shelby Hoppes said after the game. "Anytime that you give the third — maybe best — in the state, six extra possessions, it's going to be tough to win. That's a good football team, and they played their butt off, and I got to give credit to them."
Despite some mishaps, Canton-Galva had an 18-6 lead to end the first quarter. The defense was able to fly around and forced three-and-outs each series led by Conner Koehn, who produced 10.5 tackles (4 tackles-for-loss).
Maltbie threw two early touchdowns to Tyson Struber and Brayden Collins. Collins added a 26-yard rushing touchdown before the end of the first quarter.
After the quarter ended, things fell apart. The Bulldogs outscored the Eagles 28-6 in the last three quarters.
Madison's second touchdown of the night was a pick-six, which got them back in the game. Not even a minute later, Maltbie threw his second interception, which would set another scoring drive for the Bulldogs.
The Eagles were able to end the first half with a 24-20 lead after Maltbie connected with Struber for the second time.
Madison remained bold in the third quarter. Once again, Madison set the tone on kickoff with an onside kick and then regained the lead off a short-yard run by Turner.
The Eagles were shutout for the rest of the second half, while Madison kept pounding the football and managing the clock as the Bulldogs approached their 13th semifinals appearance in program history.
Madison will move on to host Little River High School in sub-state finals next Friday. Canton-Galva ends its season with an 11-1 record, snapping a 23-game winning streak.
The Eagles will also lose five seniors who helped build a winning culture for Canton-Galva. The biggest positive for the Eagles is they will have Struber return for his senior year to lead a new group next year.
"The younger kids got to learn from it," Hoppes said. "This is not the way we want to end for our seniors to go out. You want to go out and play two perfect football games, and if you lose that one, then you could be a little more proud anyway. Going out like this, with all the turnovers and mistakes, it's going to sting a bit more. There are some things we wished we could've done differently, but give credit to Madison, and they are going on to play in the sub-state game."