FB/LB Brandon Beachum (6-1, 235, Sr.), FB/LB Taylor Hill (6-3, 215, Sr.), FB/LB Michael Zordich (6-3, 230, Sr.), QB/DB Danny McCarthy (6-1, 195, Sr.), OL Jarod Emerson (6-5, 280, Sr.), OL John Simon (6-3, 250, Jr.)
2006 Record: 14-0
As if Cardinal Mooney’s football tradition wasn’t rich enough, the Cardinals have etched a new legacy in their history book in recent years claiming two of the last three D-IV state titles and finishing state runner up in 2005.
Last season, Mooney was a perfect 14-0 against one of the toughest schedules in the state and earned its sixth state championship in school history with a 26-12 win over Plain City Jonathan Alder. It was the first undefeated season for Mooney since 1980 and the most wins for a Mooney team in any single season.
But for as proud as eighth-year head coach P.J. Fecko is of his team, he is looking forward instead of focusing on the past.
“The last three seasons are just that – the last three seasons,” he said. “The 2006 season is over with and we worked hard enough and were fortunate enough to be state champions last year but that is over with. It is a new year, a new team, a whole new set schedule and people. The variables are very, very different. We are excited to get out there and work hard and, obviously, we are excited that we are defending champions but by the same token we understand that was last year.”
Despite taking a major hit from graduation, Mooney has many of the key players returning from last season’s championship run. Beachum is one of the top recruits in the state boasting scholarship offers from Florida State, LSU, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Stanford, West Virginia and nearly two dozen more. He is expected to issue a verbal commitment to Penn State on Sunday at a press conference.
Hill has offers from Akron, Indiana, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh and Syracuse to name a few and is expected to pledge his allegiance to the Sooners in the same press conference as Beachum.
McCarthy, who was an All-Ohio first team offense selection last season, hadoffers from LSU, Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Stanford but committed to the Irish earlier in the month. His older brother Kyle, now at Notre Dame, led Mooney to the 2005 state championship.
An All-Ohio first team defense selection last year, Zordich committed to Penn State in early June selecting the Nittany Lions over LSU, Michigan Sate, Ohio State and Syracuse to name a few.
“We graduated 28 guys and they were 28 really good guys. I think the leadership they demonstrated was tremendous. I just hope this group of guys are able to be the leaders that the seniors were last year,” said Fecko.
“Having some guys back is always a plus and some of them have are big names and have gotten a lot of recognition – deservedly so – but one thing everybody understands is it takes 11 people. We can’t just play with a few guys, we have to play with 11. Everyone has been working hard and they understand that as well as everyone else.
“We’re fortunate to have them back not only for what they can do athletically and with their experience but they biggest thing is they are great people. They have great character; they are people that are fun to be around and are great team players,” he said.
In addition to the crop of talented players Mooney boasts, the Cardinal have played 43 games in the last three seasons – essentially an extra season-and-a-half worth of football. As a result, the younger players coming up through the program have had that extra time and practice to prepare for future seasons.
“We’re a team that has played a lot more and our younger guys have benefited. Not necessarily game experience per say but practice time,” Fecko explained. “When you can do that, you put yourself in somewhat of a good situation. It is very similar to college teams that love to qualify for bowl games not necessarily because they get to play an extra game but because the get to practice an extra month. That is true with us as well.
“At the same time, it is a very grueling process. In three seasons, we’ve put a lot of extra time in and hopefully we use that time well and we’ll benefit from it but obviously time will tell.”
With the players Mooney has returning and the battled tested schedule the Cardinals are set to face this season, the northeast Ohio power is easily considered the favorite to win its third state championship in four years.
|8/31/2007||Gateway (Pa.) –
Ohio vs. USA Challenge
|9/7/2007||@ Akron Hoban||2|
|9/14/2007||Warren G Harding||1|
|9/21/2007||Mentor Lake Catholic||3|
|9/28/2007||@ Athol Springs St. Francis (N.Y.)||–|
|10/5/2007||@ Cleveland Benedictine||3|
|10/12/2007||@ Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary||4|
|10/26/2007||@ Columbus Bishop Watterson||2|
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