Tanagers escape with win #3 against Canton by Jim Prosser In the storied history of the past, 50 games played between Vermillion and Canton, you could always expect a fierce defensive battle.
With the renewal of the series, a virtual standoff was played at the Burdell Coplan sports complex on last Friday, Sept. 14. The weather was miserable with a steadily blown drizzle throughout the game.
Except for a nine-play, 53-yard drive for a touchdown near the end of the first quarter, neither team was able to mount a significant challenge to score as the game was played mostly between the 20-yard lines. The Tanagers scored on a two-yard run by Kellen Cusick, with the extra points scored by Nick Olson on a pass from Eric Rickord with :47 on the clock in the first period.
The Tanager defense was led by Jeff Brevik with 10 tackles. He was joined by Oliver Hope, Eric Rickord and Jeff Gilbertson with six each; John Holoch, Kellen Cusick, Drew Lawrence, Brett Jepsen and Collin Prosser with five each, and several others contributing at least one each.
The C-Hawks' rushing offense gained 85 yards on 38 carries.
Rickord had two pass breakups, as did Holoch, who also intercepted a pass and returned it 15 yards, while Brevik recovered two fumbles to go with a pass breakup.
Needless to say, every player made a contribution to the Tanagers' 8-0 victory.
VHS � Kellen Cusick rushed 23 times for 93 yards and one TD; Bart Miller rushed one time for 12 yards; Oliver Hope rushed 11 times for 68 yards.
CHS � Devin Toft rushed 11 times for 21 yards; Justin Tutland rushed four times for 18 yards; Nick Koth rushed 16 times for 55 yards.
VHS � Eric Rickord completed one of four passes for 11 yards.
CHS � Chris King completed five of 15 passes for 72 yards with one interception; Nick Koth completed one of one passes for 34 yards.
VHS � Nick Olson caught one pass for a 2-point conversion; Kellen Cusick caught one pass for 15 yards.
CHS � Matt Olsen caught three passes for 68 yards.
"Anytime you can win a ball game at Canton in adverse weather conditions, you have to be pleased," said Tanager coach Gary Culver. "We again had some young players step in and do a good job on both sides of the football."
Culver also credits his defense, which, he said, continues to play well.
"This is their third shutout of the season," Culver said.
Specialty teams are also doing well for the Tanagers.
"Our specialty teams also played well, considering the rainy and muddy conditions," Culver said. "Our offense made some mistakes that hurt ourselves, but we did move the ball well for the most part."
Culver also noted a significant loss for the Tanagers.
"We have lost Eric Rickord for the season due to a head injury," he said. "He is fine, but just cannot play football. He was just an outstanding two-way performer for us. I'm not sure we can really replace him in terms of the leadership he provided to our team. Hopefully some young players can step in and get to the next level where Eric played on both sides of the football."
Turning to the future, Culver noted the challenges the Tanagers will face in the upcoming homecoming game.
"Our upcoming Tanager Day homecoming game against Lennox will be a great challenge for our team," he said. "Lennox has a huge line on both sides of the football and they have some great skill people that can run, pass and catch the football. They are certainly deserving of the number one ranking in Class 11A at this point.
"We hope we can control the football on offense and not give up the big play on the defensive side," Culver added. "Hopefully we can use homecoming as a great motivating factor in this game."