The father and two sons coach in the system and two grandchildren are players.
By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- Don McCloud Sr. was standing by the entrance to Cardinal Mooney High's practice field Wednesday when his son, Don McCloud Jr., arrived.
"They've been stretched out and ready to go," McCloud Sr. told his son, head coach of the Cardinals' freshman football team.
"Some guys take their dads fishing," McCloud Jr. said. "We come to football practice."
McCloud Sr., known by many as "Buster," wouldn't want it any other way.
The 77-year-old Girard native and former Youngstown State football player (1951-53) has been coaching and officiating for most of his life.
When McCloud Jr. took the Mooney freshman job three years ago, he made sure to seek some fatherly advice and assistance.
"I enjoy football and I enjoy the kids," McCloud Sr. said. "I wouldn't be here if I didn't."
McCloud Sr. spent most of his coaching days at St. Dominic grade school. In his 15 years there, he coached players such as the Stoops brothers and Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini.
He also built an impressive officiating r & eacute;sum & eacute; that lasted 30 years before hip surgery slowed him.
"My earliest memories are going to football practices with him when he coached at St. Dom's," said Brendan McCloud, 31, offensive line coach for Mooney's varsity team and one of McCloud Sr.'s four sons.
McCloud Sr. added of his days at St. Dominic, "I wasn't teaching them anything fancy -- just how to block and tackle, the basics of football, so that when they come up here, they're prepared."
McCloud Sr.'s sons say their father is a coach who motivates through positive reinforcement.
"Very positive, very upbeat," Brendan McCloud said. "He's a get-after-you kind of guy -- not in a mean way -- and the kids like that. He wants to teach kids the game; that's his most important goal."
With the Mooney freshmen (8-0 going into tonight's game against East Liverpool), McCloud Sr. works with the team's running backs and wide receivers. He focuses on blocking fundamentals and the game's intensity.
"It's unbelievable," Brendan McCloud said. "If I could have that kind of energy at 77, I'll be amazed."
Football and family
Football has left a lasting impression on the McCloud family, with three generations currently involved at Mooney.
Two of McCloud Sr.'s grandchildren are juniors on the Mooney varsity team -- Dan McCloud (McCloud Jr.'s son) and Ryan Joyce (the former Patty McCloud's son with husband Bud Joyce).
"It's a topic of conversation almost everywhere," McCloud Sr. said of the game. "The whole family is into it."
That includes McCloud Sr.'s wife, Claranne, with whom he'll celebrate his 50th wedding anniversary next month.
The couple has six children -- four sons (the two aforementioned coaches and Marty and Tommy) and two daughters (Patty Joyce and Megann Martin).
Together, they've watched the family's love affair with football flourish, all because of Don "Buster" McCloud Sr.
"After we win a game, we walk out and all the guys he's coached are hugging him and happy to see him," said Brendan McCloud, the varsity assistant.
"That's what makes me happy -- the kids treat him well and respect him," he added. "They know he's been around a long time. That's special."