By: Chris Masse | Williamsport Sun-Gazette | October 29, 2006
CANTON - Canton's varsity football players had experienced almost nothing but hardship at all levels entering the 2006 season.
Now, though, the Warriors are playing the best football of their lives.
Now, the Warriors are champions.
Canton continued its remarkable turnaround Saturday at Miller A. Moyer Stadium, crushing Muncy, 40-0, while capturing a share of the Northern Tier League-Small School championship and clinching a District 4 Class A playoff berth. The Warriors, just 2-8 last year, have won four straight games, outscoring the opposition 182-8.
"They've never really had any success, even going all the way back into midgets and the pee-wee program. This means everything for them," said Canton coach Miller H. Moyer. "The kids just keep getting better and better. They've never won the whole way up through, but they never complained. They just work hard and good things happen to good people and these are great kids."
And now they've created a whole new era at Canton.
The Warriors, still fairly young, won their first league championship since 1998 and have clinched their first winning season since that same year. Canton (6-3) is currently third in the District 4 Class A standings and can clinch that seed if it defeats Troy next Saturday.
"We were hoping we would come through this season and we're happy to be going to the playoffs," said junior running back Nick Petrowski, who ran for 73 yards and a touchdown. "Our offense is playing well and our defense has been stopping the offense. We're just putting it all together."
That was evident yesterday as Canton dominated Muncy (4-5) in all facets. One week after the Indians scored 54 points, the Warriors limited them to just 168 yards while forcing five turnovers. It was a big statement, especially since Muncy had topped 40 points in four straight victories over Canton.
The Warriors built a 14-0 halftime lead, but Muncy had several opportunities to trim that deficit after moving inside the Canton 40-yard line three times. Each time, though, including after having a first-and-goal on its opening possession, Muncy failed to convert. Trailing 7-0 in the first quarter, Muncy missed another chance when it fumbled a punt at the Canton 29-yard line.
That fumble served as a microcosm of Muncy's entire afternoon as it missed a chance to claim a share of its second straight NTL title and was eliminated from District 4 Class A playoff contention.
"We don't pay attention to detail. That's just an embarrassment from the coaching right down to the playing," Muncy coach Scott McLean said. "That's the worst defeat in the 12 years we've been in this program."
And it was the best victory Canton has experienced during Moyer's two-year tenure. The Warriors erased a decade's worth of frustration against Muncy during the fourth quarter, erupting for 26 points and turning the game into a rout.
The defense disarmed Muncy's solid passing game and fittingly it created the game's biggest play. Muncy quarterback Kyle Hill was sacked in the end zone on the fourth-quarter's opening play and lost the ball in the process. Hunter Pepper recovered for the touchdown and the floodgates quickly opened.
Canton, which recorded five sacks, scored 26 points in less than 10 minutes as it outgained Muncy, 130-29.
"Our coaches really had us ready," Petrowski said. "We were expecting it to be a hard, tough game. We just kind of pulled away. We put players in and out and we're liking the way everybody is clicking and picking each other up."
Canton quarterback Reese Holmes played another solid game and showed why he has become one of the district's most promising young signal callers. The first-time sophomore starter threw for 125 yards and threw for either first downs or a touchdown on five of his nine completions. Just as impressive, Holmes displayed poise under pressure and often was hitting his second and third options.
"In those first couple of games when he came in he showed he was a 10th grader, locking on one person and not looking all over the field," Moyer said. "He's gotten over that in a hurry."
The Warriors are hoping for more solid play next week as they try and secure the district's No. 3 seed. If Canton wins next week, it will avoid a first-round game against four-time defending state champion Southern Columbia and instead would meet Line Mountain.