The schools are anticipating high turnout for these two state championship football games.
By ANGIE SCHMITT
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN — At Ursuline, they’ve abandoned their school uniforms for Irish Green and Gold. At Cardinal Mooney, ticket sales have nearly reached 1,000 already.
It’s the final week before the state championship game for the two Valley schools, seeking Division V and IV football titles, respectively. As the clock ticks toward kickoff time, excitement is building in the hallways as well as on the field.
Today Ursuline has abandoned its uniform policy for a “spirit day” in the team’s honor. Friday, school will be canceled altogether as nearly half of Ursuline’s student body is expected to migrate west to the Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium for the 11 a.m. game versus Maria Stein Marion Local.
“This is a big, exciting thing,” said the Rev. Richard Murphy, assistant principal. “The students in the school building now, only the seniors have had a taste of the playoff experience.”
Meanwhile, at Mooney, administrators are trying to keep school days as ordinary as possible. By now, state championship bouts are almost ordinary. The school’s football team has competed for the state title every year for the last four.
Still, as many as 350 Mooney students are expected to attend Saturday’s 3 p.m. contest against Coldwater, also at Paul Brown Stadium. A victory over Coldwater would be especially sweet, because the team is responsible for Mooney’s one failed championship attempt over the four-year period.
“It’s not revenge,” said senior Jeremy Frazer, 17, the student council president. “It’s something we’re out to prove for ourselves.”
A rally is being planned for Friday, as is Mooney tradition before every game. With playoffs, this year the school has held nine rallies, said Sister Jane Marie Zudlacz.
“There will be a large crowd for this one,” she said. “I think there’s an intensity about it.”
Frazer and senior Dayna Daltorio, 18, student council vice president, will be leading Friday’s rally. They’re planning a skit featuring boys cross-dressing as cheerleaders. The keynote speech will be given by alumnus Dean Cicoretti, a fullback from the school’s 1987 Division III championship team.
“The main work of student council is to keep everyone excited,” said Frazer. “This week it shouldn’t be very difficult at all.”
Daltorio has arranged to borrow her mother’s minivan to ferry a group of girlfriends to the game. They’re planning to decorate the vehicle with Cardinal red and gold.
“We’re going to go down early just to enjoy the atmosphere,” she said. “We’re going to be tailgating.”
At Ursuline the students responsible for spirit are seniors Nikka Bonamase, 17, Zachary Humphries, 17, and junior Matt McGahagan, 17. The three planned their school’s rally, to be held today.
“This is a big opportunity to show how much we really care about the school,” said Humphries.
The game is especially important to seniors, said Bonamase. Ursuline has not competed for a state championship since 2004.
“The whole school’s on cloud nine right now,” said McGahagan.
On game day, Ursuline students and alumni alike will combine for the “tunnel ritual” where the group forms a crowd around the team, cheering them on as they board the buses.
“That will be the setting for us to publicly gather and welcome them back,” said the Rev. Mr. Murphy, “hopefully with a state championship.”