Canton Relying on Experience + High-Flying Offense to Stay Successful in 2016
There are a lot of things you can't put a price on in high school football -- talent, physicality, mental toughness and the list can go on.
For Canton, the most priceless aspect might be its experience.
The Eagles have been behind in every game so far in 2016, but the Eagles have come out on top in every one. And their experience, especially on the offensive side of the ball, has been the primarily catalyst to getting to those victories.
"We could just as easily be 0-3 as we are 3-0. You can't buy experience," Canton coach Robert Ivey said. "We have a lot of kids who have been in a bunch of battles and that has helped us tremendously. Nobody has really been able to stop us, but we've kind of stopped ourselves. But we've been able to come out in the second half, correct our mistakes and have come away with three victories. It's awesome to be able to do that."
Canton came into the 2016 season with a wealth of experience on offense, notably three seniors on the offensive line, senior quarterback Hunter Moore and senior wide receiver Zach Brown.
All were a driving force in Canton's thrilling 42-41 win over Tyler Grace Community in Week 2, which avenged a 10-point loss in 2015. Moore threw for 317 yards and two scores and ran for a touchdown, while Brown caught seven balls for 105 yards and two touchdowns.
"I think the biggest thing is we've been able to come with some big plays at the right time," Ivey said. "These kids play very hard on offense and are very unselfish players."
The biggest question mark for Canton's offense coming into the season was its running game besides what Moore can offer with his legs. But Dylan Cox has stepped up, highlighted by a 105-yard, two-touchdown night against Tyler Grace.
And as the running game improves, the passing game will only get better, Ivey said.
"I don't think we've even scratched the surface of how well our offense can play. When we play well up front and get our running game going, it only opens the offense up," Ivey said. "You're able to hit some high-percentage passes and then stretch the defense vertically. We feel like we have the type of offense that if we'll just be patient, we're going to put some points on the board. I'm excited about that aspect of our game and that we're going to get better."
Moore is the driving force of the offense. He put up nearly 3,000 total yards of offense and 33 touchdowns in 2015. He lost two top receivers coming into his senior season, but that hasn't slowed him down yet.
"Hunter isn't real emotional. He stays pretty steady and stays after it," Ivey said. "I think the biggest thing this year from the last two years is when he does make a mistake, he keeps control. He knows he's going to come back and counter-act that and make some good plays."
As the Eagles move forward -- with two games left in non-district before starting District 6-4A Division II play -- Ivey said his focus is on getting his defense to a similar level as his offense. Because if there's one place where the Eagles are missing experience, it's on the defensive side of the ball.
"We are so young in so many areas (on defense). But we've got to continue to get better, and I think we will," Ivey said. "Even though we were senior-oriented last year, we were inexperienced last year, too. But this year we don't have seniors who are inexperienced; we have sophomores we are inexperienced. I think we've got to continue to tackle better and play better up front defensively, and then I think if we do that we have an opportunity to have a really good football team."
Canton faces Waxahachie Life at home at 7:30 p.m. Friday.