By: Matt Beltz | Towanda Daily Review | October 5, 2014
CANTON - The first half of the football season has been trying for Canton as the Warriors have battled a slew of injuries as a season once full of promise has turned into a disappointment so far.
However, with several players returning from injury and the race for the final playoff spot in District 4 Class A wide open, it may not be too late for Canton to salvage its season.
On a crisp fall afternoon on Saturday, Canton got the second half of its season off to a positive start as Tyler Cole accounted for 224 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns to lead the Warriors to a 46-20 win over Bucktail. The win improves Canton to 2-4 on the season and with four games left, the Warriors remain in contention with Bloomsburg, Muncy and Montgomery - who Canton plays next week - all of whom are 2-4, for the last playoff spot in Class A, with the top three teams having already distanced themselves from the field.
"We're trying to salvage what we think was a disappointing season to begin with," said Canton coach Jay Perry. "We had a lot more hopes going into this season because I think we had the talent to do some things but we got thrown behind the eight-ball the first week when we lost John Bowman, our quarterback, and from that point on we've been trying to plug and play but I think we're ready to roll now. We've got some big games coming up now."
Bowman was healthy again but it was Cole that was the star of the day for Canton as he touched the ball just seven times but ran for 151 yards and three touchdowns and also caught a score that went for 73 yards. The Warriors had two 100-yard rushers on the day as Noah Barnett also ran for 104 yards and two touchdowns, while Jimmy Bowman ran for 72 yards and a touchdown all in the second half. Canton ran for 359 yards on the afternoon, averaging 12.4 yards per carry.
The Warriors scored touchdowns on their first six possessions of the game, which spanned the entire first half as the undermanned Bucks, who dressed just 19 for the game, were clearly overmatched. Cole scored his first touchdown on a 16-yard run and Barnett followed that with a 29-yard run for a score, before Cole then hauled in his 73-yard touchdown pass - all in the first quarter.
"We've gone back to simplifying things tremendously because this is really the first time we've had our full first team on the field at the same time," said Perry. "We've been beat up and hurt and with sickness and so for five weeks, we've been out plugging players in to try to cover spots. I wish we could have played the first team a little longer today but we had to do the right thing and pull them out but they came out today and were sharp and I was impressed with the way they played in the first half."
The second quarter featured two one-play scoring drives for Canton as Barnett got loose for a 68-yard touchdown run and then Cole ripped one off from 85 yards for his third trip to the end zone. Cole then capped the first half scoring for Canton with a 37-yard touchdown run before Bucktail would get on the scoreboard on the final play from scrimmage of the first half on a 32-yard touchdown pass from Blake Gavlock to Josh Knauff.
With the game essentially already decided by halftime, Canton played mostly its second team and JV players throughout the second half and due to the running block, the Warriors had just four second-half possessions and scored on one - a two-yard run by Jimmy Bowman.