One may say that the 2010 football season was atypical of one usually had by Cardinal Mooney.
The Cardinals only sported a 7-5 record and did not make any noise in the state playoffs. Mooney finished unceremoniously ranked in the thirties in both average points per game scored and given up. Yet there is a sense of optimism around the Cardinals’ camp as the 2011 seasons draws near.
Seventy kids are trying out for a prestigious spot on the Mooney roster with many of those kids entering their senior seasons. Mooney head coach P.J. Fecko nodded towards that senior leadership as one of the strongest areas of his team in 2011. The three returning twelfth-graders who were tabbed by Fecko as the seniors who will be looked up to the most are Austin Trgovich, Bill Stana and P.J. Quinn.
Quinn is a six-foot, 190-pound quarterback who will be taking over the starting signal caller position from the departed Kevin McGuire. It will be Quinn’s first time as full-time varsity starter. In seven games last season, Quinn completed seven of 18 passes for 133 yards. The senior has a good head on his shoulders and will be expected to manage the game well and not commit too many mistakes. He will also be looked upon to add senior leadership to the defensive backfield at safety.
Trgovich is a six-foot, three-inch, 270-pound monster who should anchor both sides of Mooney’s interior lines. He is a relentless pass rusher who also does well versus the run and can open up mammoth holes from his offensive tackle position.
Stana may not stand as tall as Trgovich, but he has the same kind of heart and determination on defense. The linebacker will anchor the middle of Mooney’s front seven and he should combine with Courtney Love to form one heck of a linebacker duo.
Joining Trgovich along the defensive and offensive front should be seniors Carmen Lanzo and Joe DeNiro. Both of these Cardinals combine quickness with brute strength to terrorize opposing offenses.
On Mooney’s offense, Quinn will have the luxury of handing the ball off to two very capable running backs. Senior Ricky Williams saw sizeable action in 2010 and should carry his share again this season.
Despite Williams’ famous running back name, the most notable Cardinal in the backfield, however, will be returning rusher Roosevelt Griffin. Before being slowed at the end of last season due to injury, Griffin had 585 yards rushing and seven touchdowns. Fecko is counting on Griffin to be healthy so he can handle the pigskin even more in 2011.
Senior receivers Ryan Farragher and Marcus McWilson will also be on hand to lend their hands to Quinn and the offense. Farragher stands six feet, two inches and has very long arms which make it easy for him to catch those hard balls in traffic. McWilson adds speed to the Cardinals’ receiving corps and has the best stats returning at receiver with 373 yards and three touchdowns a year ago.
Besides these mainstays at Mooney, there is a large group of Cardinals who will be getting their first opportunities to make an impression on coach Fecko. Those kids have competed hard in camp and that makes Fecko smile since competition raises the level of play, according to the coach.
The main question at Mooney camp is will that level be high enough to compete with a grueling season-long schedule? It seems as if the athletic department at long time nemesis Ursuline put together the Cardinals’ 2011 slate because it has to be one of the toughest in the state. Mooney starts the season at Federal League favorite Canton McKinley on Aug. 27 then it continues in week two at cross-town rival Boardman. The atmosphere for that Cardinal/Spartan showdown should challenge any college game played this season. After squaring off with the Spartans, Mooney gets to visit Division I state champion St. Edwards before hosting perennial playoff contender Mentor Lake Catholic on Sept. 16 in its home opener. Oh yeah, there is that “small showdown” with archenemy Ursuline on Oct. 21.
If all of the new faces can mesh with the veterans and Mooney can overcome a lack of depth then perhaps the Cardinals may have a chance to conquer that crazy set of games and reach the playoffs for the 25th time. Winning state title number eight may be a huge task for this set of Cardinals, but nothing is out of the question when the tradition of Mooney football is on the line.