Cardinal Mooney football preview

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Cardinal Mooney has had more success than any other program in the area within the last forty years. The Cardinals have accumulated 56 post-season wins en route to their 8 state championships (tied for 2nd most in the state) behind St. Ignatius.

In 2012, the Cardinals began the season with a 2-2 record while knocking off the eventual Division III State Champion Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary Fighting Irish, 41-15. From there; however, Mooney lost four of their last five and finished with only their fifth losing season in school history. The Cardinals’ opponents closed out the season with a winning percentage of 72.4% (76-29).

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Coach P.J. Fecko begins his 14th season as the head coach along the Cardinals’ sideline. They will begin play at Stambaugh Stadium against Philadelphia’s Imhotep Panthers on Saturday, August 31.

2013 Cardinal Mooney Cardinals’ Football Preview
By Vince Pellegrini (@Vince_MYVS)
Head Coach: P.J. Fecko, 14th season (116-45)
2012 Record: 3-6, Independent
2012 Post-Season Finish: Did Not Qualify

2012 Team Statistics
Points Scored: 21.8 (39th in Area)
Passing Yards: 76.1 (685)
Rushing Yards: 214.4 (1930)
Points Allowed: 29.6 (45th in Area)
Passing Yards Allowed: 124.4 (1120)
Rushing Yards Allowed: 176.0 (1584)

Returning Leaders
Passing: Jon Saadey – 501 yards, 54.3% (25-47), 2 TDs
Rushing: Denver Martin – 62 att, 333 yds
Receiving: Mark Handel – 7 rec, 170 yds, 2 TDs
Interceptions: Mark Handel – 3

2013 Schedule
Aug. 31 – Imhotep (PA), 1 PM
Sept. 6 – at Boardman 7:30 PM
Sept. 14 – at Akron Buchtel, 1 PM
Sept. 20 – at Akron SVSM, 7 PM
Sept. 28 – Lake Catholic, 1 PM
Oct. 5 – at St. Edward, 7 PM
Oct. 11 – at Erie McDowell, 7:30 PM
Oct. 18 – Canisius (NY), 7:30 PM
Oct. 25 – Ursuline, 7:30 PM
Nov. 1 – Fitch, 7:30 PM

Offensive Strength: Running back Mark Handel was a jack of all trades last season. He compiled 770 all-purpose yards as a junior. He gained 111 on the ground, 170 through the air, he returned 402 stripes on kickoffs and another 51 on punt returns and finally filling out the stat sheet with 36 on interception returns. A huge increase from the previous season where he only accumulated 207 yards (112 rushing, 95 returns).

Offensive Weakness: Even with the exceptionally skilled rushers in Marcus McWilson (477 yards, 6 TDs) and Justus Ellis-Moore (831 yards, 12 TDs), Mooney’s bread and butter of running the football saw a decline from the previous season. In 2011, the Cards averaged 261.1 yards per contest. Last year, Mooney was able to still manage above 200 yards per game (214.1) but that figure was almost 48 yards less.

Defensive Strength: Of the 547 plays which the defense was on the field for in 2012, the opposing offense was able to manage 4.9 yards per play which was on pace with the stat from the 2011 Championship team (4.9).

Defensive Weakness: The defense has surrendered more points in each season since 2007. Seven years ago, Mooney had the #1 defense in points allowed among area teams (9.3). This past fall, the Cardinals featured the 45th best defense in that category. Mooney’s defense permitted their opponents to average almost 45 yards more per game in 2012 (300.4) than they did in 2011 (255.3).

Storylines Facing the Cardinals
1. Takeaways in 2012.The alarming rate of takeaways by the Mooney defense in 2011 reached 31 (12 fumble recoveries/19 interceptions). Last year, the Cardinals’ defense was only able to force 8 turnovers (2 fumbles/6 interceptions).

2. Season Opener. On Saturday, August 31 – the Imhotep Panthers will travel west to Youngstown to take on Mooney for the season opener. Last year, Imhotep finished 14-1 with their lone loss coming against Wyomissing, 35-13, in the PIAA Class AA Eastern Finals. Last year the Panthers featured one of the elite running backs in the nation. David Williams signed his National Letter-of-Intent with South Carolina last February.

3. Additions to the Schedule. The aforementioned Imhotep replaces St. Ignatius in the opener. Buchtel will fill in for Harding in week three while Rich Robbins’ Canisius of Buffalo, New York round out the new additions to the schedule.

Did you know? John Hidzick was Mooney’s first coach in 1956. He accumulated a 20-17-4 mark in his five years at the helm. He was followed by Denny Barrett, who in his first season won the City Series Championship. Between 1961-1965, the Cardinals had a pair of one loss seasons (1961 & 1962). In 1966, the legendary Don Bucci took over the reins as the head football coach at Mooney. The Cardinals won 19 conference crowns and four state titles under Bucci.

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