Niles-Canfield game was one for the ages
The rectangular control sits in your hand. Your thumbs are kind of throbbing because you tried to power up Bo Jackson or Lawrence Taylor to rip through the opposing line and block an extra point.
Fourth-and-40. It doesn’t matter. Your crudely graphic quarterback had a rocket arm that threw the spec that was the football to the downfield receiver.
Welcome to Tecmo Bowl, about which one of my 20-something colleagues said, ‘What’s that? Don’t more people know about Madden?’ Thankfully, a couple of co-workers spoke my language. They knew all about the thrill that was Tecmo Bowl or Super Tecmo Bowl for the first Nintendo game system.
There’s nothing like the exhilaration you felt of then Cleveland Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar’s digital likeness to heave a sidearm pass to a speedy Webster Slaughter or Reggie Langhorne racing parallel to the sideline for a 60- or 70-yard fly route.
As mystifying as that was to a child in the 1980s, it had nothing on the real-life video game that took place Friday at Bo Rein Stadium.
My apologies to defensive coordinators, but the offensive explosion that was encompassed from sideline to sideline was mesmerizing to say the least during Friday’s 70-62 double-overtime victory by Canfield.
Chris Parry’s 67-yard slant route, weaving in and out of reach of the Cardinals defenders, gave Niles an early 7-0 lead on the first play from scrimmage.
It was a precursor of things to come.
Niles’ defense had as much luck stopping Canfield’s offense.
Instead of passing, which was only 1 of 2 for 2 yards a catch by Kimu Kim from quarterback Aaron Jenkins, the Cardinals’ offensive line ran roughshod throughout the game. Kim had shades of Jackson in Tecmo Bowl or Marshall Faulk in Madden, finding so much daylight in the defense was it any wonder, apologies to Corey Hart, that the Canfield offense didn’t wear their sunglasses at night.
Kim busted through 52 times for 497 yards and a state record nine rushing touchdowns. The previous record was eight.
The breather, so to speak, in the action was Canfield’s 16-play, 67-yard drive to start the third quarter. Surprisingly enough, Kim drove behind his line for a 4-yard score to cap the Cardinals’ march that lasted 7 minutes, 30 seconds.
Most drives, like the next one, lasted about a minute. Niles quarterback Kyle Paden, who had a school-record 505 yards passing on 27 of 42 attempts and six touchdowns, connected on a 65-yard reception to Justin Lopes. Most of the passes were not long, like in the video games. The Niles receivers had plenty of yards after the catch on 5, 10, 15 or 20-yard well-timed passes. Ask Parry, who had 15 receptions of a school-best 274 yards and two scores, or Lopes, who had six catches for 155 yards.
Both teams then traded defensive stops. In a game like this, it seems blasphemous to say.
Canfield’s Kim took only three plays in the Cardinal’s first drive of the fourth to hit paydirt on a 31-yard scamper.
It seemed only natural, with the ebb and flow of the game, that Niles would score. On the fifth play of the drive with 7:36 remaining in the game, Jenkins picked off Paden at the Canfield 45 and ran 55 yards for the ensuing score, giving the Cardinals a 49-42 lead.
Eventually, Niles would rally and tie the game with 30 seconds remaining. The Red Dragons held Canfield and forced overtime. Thanks to a Taylor-like, Tecmo-style block of a Canfield extra point by Marcus Hill, Niles forced a second extra session.
Canfield scored, then converted on a two-point conversion in the second OT to take a 70-62 lead.
Niles countered and on second-and-9 from the Canfield 19, Parry caught a 19-yard strike for a touchdown.
But, a yellow flag thrown by an official negated the play holding on the Red Dragons. It took the wind out of Niles’ sails as a pass for negative yardage and two incomplete passes ended the game a game filled with enough offense to fill the palate of any Tecmo Bowl or Madden enthusiast.
In the words of national announcer Gus Johnson, ‘What a game!’