Canadian kept on trucking Friday night with another lopsided win, blowing out Bangs 56-13 in the Class 3A Division II area round on Friday night at Leo Brittain Field Lions Stadium in Vernon.
The game against the Dragons (9-2) was never close. The Wildcats punched in two touchdowns in their first eight plays. On the opening possession, Canadian took the ball 45 yards, setting up a Joshua Culwell 19-yard touchdown toss to Reagan Cochran and putting the Wildcats up 7-0.
After a quick three-and-out, Bangs pinned the Wildcats at their own 1-yard line. That wasn’t an issue for Culwell and the potent offense. In just three plays, the Cats dug out to their own 24-yard line, and on the fourth play of the drive. Culwell delivered a deep ball for a beautiful, fingertip reception by Twister Kelton. Kelton outran his defender for a 76-yard pass and catch, extending Canadian’s advantage to 14-0.
That kind of explosive scoring is how it went for the Wildcats the rest of the way. The Dragons had no answer. Canadian scored on all seven of its first-half possessions, building a commanding 49-6 lead by halftime.
“I was impressed with our team,” Canadian head coach Chris Koetting said. “They had some talented players, but it was probably our best effort we’ve had all year as far as execution. It was just an impressive performance.”
Culwell was stellar, going 21-of-28 for 367 yards and six touchdowns to an array of receivers. The 6-foot-3 gunslinger just keeps getting better and more confident by the week. On the season, he has thrown for 2,887 yards with 45 touchdowns, completing 167-of-240 passes in limited action due to multiple blowouts this season.
“Josh is just playing great football right now,” Koetting said. “He continues to be a leader for us and he’s doing everything right.”
Kelton snagged a total of three catches for 129 yards and two TDs, and junior Jake Krehbiel had his best game of the year, grabbing five catches for 84 yards and rushing for 20 yards to combine for three touchdowns.
As good as the Wildcat offense was, how about that defense?
The Cats flew around the football all night, holding a run-first Bangs team to 94 rushing yards, and limiting running back Ethan Sanchez to 38 yards, compared to his 200-yard average.
“I feel like our players had a good week of practice and preparation,” Canadian defensive coordinator Andy Cavalier said. “Our guys had a good feel for the style of play Bangs brought. We played real hard against a team that wasn’t easy to tackle, and we played our best game of the year. Now we need to do it again.”
Defensive lineman Jorge Dominguez was in on 11 tackles, four for a loss. Ethan Jackson added nine tackles with three for a loss.
The Wildcats (11-1 overall) advance to the regional semifinal for a ninth straight year. So far through the first two rounds of the postseason, Canadian has played up to its No. 1 billing, defeating both Coahoma and Bangs by a combined 118-27.
Class 3A Division II Regional Semifinals
Canadian Wildcats (11-1) vs Idalou Wildcats (10-0) 2 p.m. Friday, Happy State Bank Stadium, Canyon
Head Coach: Jeff Lofton, seventh season at Idalou.
Last Week: Idalou defeated Alpine, 49-0, in a Class 3A Division II area round game
Players to Watch: Jared Jack, Sr. QB; Brock Leatherwood, Sr. RB-LB
This is a playoff rivalry from years past. Canadian and Idalou met up for three straight years from 2005-2007. Idalou stunned an unbeaten Canadian team in the 2005 area round, 26-14, then blew Canadian out, 33-0, in another area contest in 2006. In 2007, Canadian got its revenge with a thrilling 21-18 win in the state quarterfinals, stopping Idalou at the goal line, on the way to the school’s first state championship.
This season, Idalou is the District 4-3A Division II champion, ranked No. 7 in the state at 10-0. Idalou boasts one of the top run games in the state behind quarterback Jared Jack and running back Brock Leatherwood. This season this Idalou team is averaging close to 50 points a game and 330 yards on the ground per contest.
Idalou and Canadian will play at 2 pm on Friday, Nov. 27, at Happy State Bank Stadium (formerly Kimbrough) in Canyon. All ticket prices are $5. District and THSCA passes will be accepted. Canadian will be on the visitors’ side.
Canadian coach Chris Koetting on Idalou
“This is probably our toughest matchup since Iowa Park early in the season. We’re going to have to play extremely well to try and get to the next round. They are hard to stop and have hardly been in any third-down situations. They are just very good at what they do. They won’t throw it a lot, and we need to match up with them physically.”