BORGER – When Thanksgiving weekend comes along the Canadian Wildcats start to amp it up to another level when it comes to the Texas High School football playoffs.
The No. 4-ranked Wildcats clicked on all cylinders in a complete dismantling of Spearman scoring on all eight possessions of the first half on the way to a 63-14 victory in a Class 3A Division II regional semifinal on Friday at a chilly Bulldogs Stadium.
Canadian has won nine straight games moving to 11-2 overall and advances into the state quarterfinals for the 10th time in 11 years. The Wildcats move on to face Wall (12-1) at 6 p.m. on Friday at Lubbock-Cooper. The Hawks blanked Idalou 30-0 on Friday in their respective regional semifinal.
“I told the guys if we win this game, we’ll be playing December football again,” said Canadian head coach Chris Koetting, who is 48-9 all-time in the postseason. “I told them hardly any high school football players get to play that long. So, we all need to be thankful that we’re a program that gets to do that.”
Unlike a slow paced first meeting where Canadian beat Spearman, 42-3, in Week 8 District 3-3A Division II meeting, the Wildcats didn’t mess around from the opening kickoff to the halftime whistle against Spearman, which finished the season at 5-8. The Wildcats took the opening drive of the game marching 11 plays in 70 yards capped off by a quarterback Camren Cavalier 5-yard scamper putting the Wildcats up 7-0. That was just the start of things to come. After Spearman didn’t convert a fourth down conversion near midfield, Cavalier was back at it hitting Luke Flowers down the sideline for 30 yards, then connected with tight end Wyatt Davis on a 10-yard pitch and catch a couple of plays later and all of a sudden it was 14-0 Canadian with 5:25 remaining in the first half.
“Playing them earlier in the season and playing well in the first meeting gave us confidence,” Cavalier said. “We wanted to come out and play fast and play better than we did the first time. I think we did that.”
After a Spearman 3-and-out, Cavalier threw his second TD pass of the quarter when he lasered a rope across the middle to Preston Miller. Miller took a big hit at the 20-yard line but stayed on his feet, broke free, and went the final 20 yards untouched for a 38-yard score that extended the advantage, 21-0. On the next possession, Canadian put a stamp on an excellent opening period when Cavalier kept it himself for a 4-yard score around the left side as the quarter came to a close with the Wildcats blistering Spearman 28-0.
“We played fast,” Koetting said. “I just love the way we came out and set the tempo on the first drive. That got us going and we never stopped from that point forward. We did a lot of great things in this win.”
Canadian kept the pedal to the medal scoring four more times in the second quarter to take a commanding 56-0 lead into halftime. The Wildcat defense deserves their credit for a stellar performance. Canadian absolutely kept the Lynx from running the football holding Spearman to 80 total yards at the half with 71 of those yards coming on one play. Canadian also forced Spearman into big turnovers with Davis and Cree Waite coming away with interceptions.
“We knew they were going to throw a lot of things at us,” Canadian senior defensive lineman Corbin Throgmorton said. “They played completely different from the first time, but we all did our job and played our position perfectly.”
Koetting echoed Throgmorton’s comments.
“It was a team effort,” Koetting said. “We knew we were going to see a lot from them and they were a much different team that has been hot in the playoffs. We swarmed to the football and didn’t let them get any momentum offensively.”
Cavalier ended a spectacular afternoon hurting the Lynx with both his arm and his feet. On the ground the junior dual-threat QB had 14 carries for 140 yards with a pair of touchdowns. With his arm, Cavalier was a near perfect 12-of-14 for 230 yards with four touchdowns. Miller was a matchup nightmare for the Spearman secondary as the junior hauled in six catches for 133 yards, all in the first half, with a pair of TDs and running back Luke Flowers added 71 yards rushing with two rushing touchdowns with a 45-yard punt return for a score.