STATE ROUNDUP || News and notes

Two in a row? Ursuline could become the first area team to win back-to-back titles. Only three other teams have had the chance, with Warren Western Reserve (winning in 1972, losing to Mooney in 1973), Warren JFK (winning in 1991, losing in 1992) and Mooney (winning in 2004 and 2006, losing in 2005 and 2007) all falling short. The Irish are also just the second area team to advance to three straight finals, joining the 2004-2007 Mooney teams.

Making history: If Mooney and Ursuline win, it will be the first time the area has had two state football champions in the same year. Other years where the Valley had two teams playing for state titles are: 1973 (Mooney beat Warren Reserve in the AAA final), 1987 (Boardman lost in Div. I, Mooney won in Div. III), 1989 (Campbell lost in Div. III, Warren JFK lost in Div. IV and McDonald lost in Div. V), 1994 (West Branch won in Div. III, Wellsville lost in Div. V, McDonald lost in Div. VI), 2005 (Canfield lost in Div. II, Mooney won in Div. IV), 2006 (Mooney won in Div. IV, Warren JFK lost in Div. V) and 2007 (Mooney lost in Div. IV, Ursuline lost in Div. V).

Nice to see you again: The Div. III final is a rematch of Mooney’s Week 2 win over DeSales. When asked if seeing a team twice is good or bad, Cardinals coach P.J. Fecko voted for neither. “You could probably argue that situation either way,” he said. “With it being Week 15 and us playing in Week 2, it almost feels like it was last season. I don’t know that it makes it any easier. I don’t see any advantage or disadvantage.” Stallions coach Ryan Wiggins felt it made things a little easier from a preparation standpoint. “You’re not starting from scratch,” he said.

Record wins: Mooney (14-0) has tied the school record for wins in a season and can stand alone if it beats DeSales. Mooney also won 14 in 2006 (when they went 14-0) and 2007 (when they went 14-1). Mooney finished undefeated in 1971, 1980 and 2006. Only two area teams have finished 15-0: Poland in 1999 and Ursuline in 2008.

Next question: When asked if he had any thoughts about the Ursuline-Coldwater final, Fecko said, “I really don’t. I haven’t seen Coldwater play at all. I do know Ursuline is a quality football team and they’ll be ready to play. Just as they have throughout these playoffs, I assumed they’ll represent the area in a positive way.” Mooney beat Ursuline 27-22 in Week 9 and lost state finals to Coldwater in 2005 and 2007.

2000 memories: Ursuline and Coldwater waged an epic battle for the Div. IV title in 2000, with the Irish winning 49-37. “I remember they had two great running backs and the tremendous speed those two guys had,” Reed said of Ursuline’s Terrance Graves and Delbert Ferguson, who helped the Irish roll up an all-division record 502 yards on the ground. “And I remember their offensive line was just gigantic. It looked like a college offensive line. That was a tremendous team and it was certainly difficult for us from a defensive standpoint.” The teams still hold eight Div. V state championship game records for that contest.

Irish reflections: Asked if it’s sunk in that he will play his final varsity game in a third straight state title game, Ursuline running back Allen Jones said, “On game day, it will really sink in and I’ll appreciate it a lot more.” Irish center David Rossi said he feels the Irish seized control of last Friday’s game against undefeated Ridgewood when Irish running back Akise Teague slammed into Ridgewood’s Jake Conrad on the Irish’s second offensive play. The blow damaged Conrad’s shoulder and the back who had rushed for nearly 2,000 yards in 14 games was limited to three carries. “That was just a huge blow to their team morale. We just rolled from there.” The Irish won, 48-6. Another senior, cornerback DeAndre Harris, wants his class to be remembered for a title. “This year, we want our legacy to be our own. We feed off that [2008] victory because last year, we were part of the state championship, but that was the 2008 seniors’ legacy.”

Joe Scalzo, Tom Williams

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