CANADIAN – The Canadian Wildcats aren’t used to losing, much less losing two games in a row, which is where they sat when they hosted Perryton on Friday night.
They made sure that was a fluke.
Looking like a team with something to prove, Canadian jumped on top and never looked back. The Wildcats opened the game with 42 unanswered points in the first half and cruised in the second half, posting a 56-14 victory to even their season record at 2-2.
That’s a modest accomplishment for a program as successful as Canadian’s, but the Wildcats are just trying to get back in stride after losing to strong teams in Bushland and Elk City, Okla. Canadian coach Chris Koetting has won three state championships, but he’s not underestimating the importance of this predistrict victory.
“We definitely got a sense of urgency,” Koetting said. “We made so many mistakes in the last two games. Our kids just worked really hard this week and we were playing a good team. Perryton played really close with some really good teams.
“We kind of got rolling a little bit in all phases and just took off and got our tempo going offensively. Last week we had a bunch of penalties in the red zone and this week we didn’t do that.”
It was a relatively slow start for Canadian, as the Wildcats looked tentative offensively after scoring a touchdown on their first possession on a short field. But it was all Canadian in the second quarter, as the Wildcats put up 35 points, culminating in electrifying fashion on a blocked field goal return on the final play of the half to make it 42-0 going into the locker room.
Canadian got the ball in Perryton territory after a short punt, and quarterback Camren Cavalier capped the drive with the first of his three scoring runs, this one from 2 yards out for a 7-0 lead. However, the Wildcats stumbled on their next possession and made their only punt of the half.
Defensively, Canadian gave up next to nothing on the ground to Perryton (1-3). The Rangers had only 1 yard rushing in the first half, although a lot of that was due to the fact the Wildcats got to Perryton quarterback Julian Cervantes for several sacks in the half.
“Defensively I thought we did a great job,” Koetting said. “Our front seven knocked down a bunch of passes and we were just really strong up front.”
Canadian didn’t give up a single first down rushing in the first half.
The Wildcats struck twice in a 50-second span to take over the game early in the second quarter. Cavalier capped a solid drive with a 4-yard run to make it 14-0, then the Rangers failed to field the ensuing kickoff and Canadian pounced on it at the Perryton 24-yard line.
That set up a 23-yard scoring pass from Cavalier to Preston Miller, the first of two scoring passes in the half for Cavalier. Late in the first half, Cavalier connected with Julian Dominguez on a 22-yard score to make it 35-0, which seemed like a comfortable enough margin heading into the half.
Cavalier had a typically strong dual threat game, as he threw for 212 yards and ran for 65 yards on 13 carries. That was evidence of how balanced Canadian was offensively in picking up 489 yards.
“We had something to prove just to show we’re better than we have been,” Cavalier said. “These past two weeks didn’t go how we wanted them to, but we didn’t look back. I feel like everyone just stopped and wanted to do everything for each other. Our line was incredible looking out for us.”
Perryton drove inside the Canadian 10 in the final minute of the half, but a penalty pushed back the Rangers, who with one second left in the half opted to try a 39-yard field goal by Javier Ledezma. But keeping with the theme of the first half, Canadian blocked the kick, and Cree Waite put the exclamation point on the half by returning it 70 yards for a score.
The Wildcats pulled back offensively in the second half, but that didn’t keep junior running back Kaden Crooks from having a breakout game. Crooks ran for a career-high 142 yards on 16 carries and scored both of Canadian’s touchdowns in the second half.