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Mooney’s drive to state title on track

November 12, 2009
By Nik Zirounis Town Crier correspondent
Cardinal Mooney’s quest for yet another state football championship began last Friday with an impressive 42-14 victory over Mogadore Field at Stambaugh Stadium.

That win not only propelled the Cardinals into the Division III Regional semifinals, but it also kept the team’s perfect (11-0) record intact.  Mooney will now play another local club in 10-1 Hubbard this Friday night at Warren’s Mollenkopf Stadium.

Heading into last week’s playoff opener, the strategy for Mogadore was to hog the field all night from the powerful Cardinals. As long as Mooney’s high-powered offense was sitting on the sidelines, it couldn’t kill the kids from Mogadore. Those best laid plans were punctured in the first half, however, as Mooney’s mauling defense forced four Field turnovers that set up four Cardinal touchdowns.

Karrington Griffin would bust the goal line twice on runs of four and one yard and Mark Brandenstein would bully his way in from a yard out to give the Cardinals a 21-0 lead after one quarter. The second quarter was just as big of a headache for the visitors as the first as Mooney got touchdown runs of 55 yards from Ray Vinopal, one yard from Alex Zordich and 11 yards from Ed Reese. The 42-0 lead at intermission allowed Mooney head coach P.J. Fecko to call off the Cards in the second half and rest his starters for the second round.

The field position that the Cardinals were awarded due to their defensive domination played a major factor in allowing the score to get out of hand early. Mooney was expected to dominate the game, but once it did so early on, it was easy to tell that the Mogadore bunch was deflated and defeated.  Field had less than 200 yards of total offense and most of that came during garbage time. 

Mooney meanwhile mashed Mogadore Field for 375 yards on the ground using the four-headed monster of Griffin, Vinopal, Zordich and Carmen Leonelli who led all carriers with 110 yards. The Cardinals were held without any significant yards through the air, but they really never had the need to throw.

The passing game may become more prevalent this week against Hubbard who is averaging 36 points per game. The Eagles like to put the ball in the air, which may force Mooney to keep up with them. Hubbard quarterback Matt Shelton is a six-foot, three-inch senior with a very strong throwing arm.  He went 22-for-32 for 204 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles’ 30-14 first round win over Medina Buckeye. Shelton also slithered into the end zone twice on runs. When Shelton throws, he usually looks for six-foot, two-inch senior Tommy Jackson or six-foot, three-inch, 200-pound senior Kurtis Drummond. Both receivers played pivotal roles against Medina Buckeye with Drummond drumming up eight catches for 88 yards and Jackson snaring four balls for 52 yards and a 19-yard touchdown. That duo should provide a great challenge to Mooney defensive backs led by Griffin (who had two of his team’s three interceptions last week), John Stoops (who picked off the other pass) and Don D’Alesio.

Hubbard lost its first game of the season way back in August to playoff participant Poland. Since that setback, the Eagles have earned 10 wins in a row. Of course, the Cardinals will be trying for win number 12 in a row.

It was not known at press time if injured Mooney running back Braylon Heard would be available for Friday night’s matchup, but it is known that these Cards are pretty stacked with or without the senior superstar.

Article Photos

Mooney's Michael Bruno made this interception in the fourth quarter as the Cardinals faced Mogadore Field last week in the first round of the Division III regional playoffs. The 42-12 win puts the undefeated Cardinals in the semifinals against Hubbard this week in Warren.



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