WOODROW- Canadian continued its march through the Texas High School football playoffs with another outstanding performance in all phases of a 45-10 thrashing of the Wall Hawks at Lubbock-Cooper’s Pirates Stadium on Friday night.
Once again, the Wildcats are the Kings of Region I as Canadian heads to the UIL state semifinals for the eighth time in nine years to take on familiar rival Gunter for the sixth time in seven years at 6 p.m. Friday on Anthony Field at Wildcats Stadium in Abilene.
“Last year we fell short of getting this far,” said Canadian head coach Chris Koetting, who is now an eye-opening 49-9 all-time in the playoffs. “I’m proud of the players and the coaches. Our coaches had a great game-plan for us, and we executed. But we’re playing in December, and we have a big challenge next week, so we’ll have to be ready to go.”
Canadian (12-2 overall) has won 10 straight overall and absolutely dominated Region I in the playoffs. Through the four wins over Lubbock Roosevelt, Early, Spearman and Wall, the Wildcats outscored those opponents by a combined 220-46.
Wall (12-2) had pitched six shutouts on defense, were allowing only six points a game with the most being 20 against Eastland coming in. However, the Hawks were overwhelmed by a Canadian offense that has really found its stride. The Wildcats took the opening kickoff and marched eight plays in 81 yards resulting in a Camren Cavalier 40-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Cree Waite giving the Wildcats a 7-0 lead. Wall’s one hope came on the ensuing possession. Led by sophomore quarterback Gunnar Dillard, the Hawks drove 81 yards in nine plays with its triple-option offense, but a holding penalty in the redzone stalled the drive as Wall had to settle for a field goal that cut the lead 7-3.
From that point forward it was all Canadian. The Wildcat offense and their tempo started rolling and the defense stifled the Hawks run attack the rest of the half. Canadian opened the lead to 14-3 by the end of the first quarter on a Cavalier 15-yard swing pass to Luke Flowers. As the second quarter started, the Wall wheels fell off. Cavalier plunged his way in on a 1-yard keeper extending the advantage 21-3. Cavalier then found Flowers for their second scoring connection of 29-yards to make it 28-3, then to cap off the half, Cavalier took a designed draw play 26-yards running right through the Wall defense as Canadian had complete control up 35-3.
“The offensive line did amazing tonight,” Cavalier said. “We had a guy go down and a sophomore step up and we didn’t miss a beat. Because of the offensive line we were able to run the ball and then get our receivers open. To be able to keep scoring was big for us and our passing game really good tonight.”
By halftime Canadian had racked up 327 total yards ending the game with 466 yards. Cavalier ran for 88 yards with two touchdowns and threw for 205 yards with three scores in the first half alone. Cavalier finished his amazing effort going 12-of-16 for 224 yards and tallied 100 yards rushing on 15 carries with five total TDs.
Canadian’s pass game earned chunks of yards the entire night behind wide open receivers. Landon Fuentez had a monster outing snagging three catches for 50 yards with a score. Flowers showed his versatility rushing for 79 yards on nine carries and catching four balls for 57 yards with two scores. Preston Miller also made an impact with two catches for 73 yards.
As good as the Canadian offense was, the defense was equally impressive. Take away the opening drive, and a near 10-minute third quarter march that resulted in Wall’s only touchdown on a Dillard 1-yard keeper, Canadian shut down a Hawks steady run game that came in averaging 340 yards a contest. Canadian limited Wall to 190 rushing yards, well below the Hawks average and forced three fumbles resulting in 14 Wildcat points.
“I think they ran to the football better and ran through our blocks,” Wall head coach Houston Guy said. “They played better defense than we did offense. They just have a great team, and they are one of those teams you can’t take a breath against. Watching film, they just move so fast, and we knew that was coming and they were very impressive.”
Koetting echoed Guy’s comments.
“We had a little trouble settling in,” Koetting said. “But they didn’t get enough momentum to put points on the board. We made a really good team look average and I’m just proud of how we flew to the football.”