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Torn over team



Published: Fri, November 20, 2009 @ 12:01 a.m.
  Mooney Vs. Ursuline

  Mooney VS Hubbard

Mooney defeats Hubbard 55-0 November 13, 2009

Mooney defeats Hubbard 55-0 November 13, 2009

By JOE SCALZO

Vindicator sports staff

Brandon Beachum will likely spend tonight listening to the radio on his couch as his two former high schools play each other in a varsity football game for the first time.

“I’d love to go,” said Beachum, a Mooney High graduate who attended Poland High for two years, “but I don’t think I’m going to make it.”

Beachum, a sophomore running back at Penn State, tore the ACL in his knee last weekend against Indiana and won’t be able to attend the game at Fitch Falcon Stadium.

But his presence will still be felt.

This is a story about the Mooney-Poland rivalry — or lack of one, really — but it’s also about how the wounds have healed since a high-profile sophomore running back decided to transfer from one of the area’s best football programs to its very best.

Four years ago, Beachum, a 1,000-yard rusher for a Poland team that barely missed the playoffs, enrolled at Cardinal Mooney just days after his sophomore season ended.

Not surprisingly, the move made headlines — and a few enemies — and the tension spilled over a month later when Beachum sat on Mooney’s bench for a boys basketball game at Poland High School.

The game, which was won by the Cardinals in the closing seconds, brought out the worst in both teams — and their student sections — and the jawing continued well after the game ended.

The next morning, after taking the ACT at Boardman High School, a Mooney student punched a Poland student in the parking lot, putting the Poland student in the hospital with a concussion. Charges were filed, meetings took place, and a decision was made.

“After that game, we dropped Mooney [from the schedule] in a basketball game, because we were afraid of the repercussions,” said longtime Poland athletic director Myron Stallsmith, who retired last June.

Although Stallsmith didn’t say it, the decision actually stretched into other sports, as Poland adopted an unwritten policy that it wouldn’t schedule Mooney during the regular season.

It wasn’t a big change — the schools didn’t play that much anyway — and Poland and Mooney still meet in big invitationals for sports such as track and field or cross country. They also play in the postseason, with the most recent game being a Division II boys district soccer final on Halloween, won by the Cardinals.

The no-play policy didn’t affect football, of course, since the teams have never met. Mooney began playing football in 1956 and has been the area’s best program since at least the early 1970s, making the playoffs 23 times and winning six state titles.

While Poland is no slouch in football — the school has made the playoffs nine times and won the 1999 Division III state title — scheduling Mooney wasn’t an option, even as the Bulldogs played teams such as Steubenville and Ursuline during the regular season in recent years.

“We didn’t really need to play them,” said Stallsmith. “We had enough competition from the schools we were able to schedule.”

Mooney athletic director Don Bucci, who led the Cardinals to four of those state titles during his coaching career, said he’s not aware of a no-schedule policy between the teams; it just doesn’t come up.

“It’s just sort of a recognized thing; we just don’t play,” he said. “Since we didn’t play in football, it was just a matter of them not contacting us and us not contacting them.”

That doesn’t mean the rivalry has lost its juice. Like most public schools located near a parochial school, Poland has its share of sports fans that dislike Mooney.

The main reason? Many of the Cardinals’ best athletes live in Poland. Those students made up the core of Mooney’s 2003 state championship boys soccer team, with five key Cardinals having played Poland youth soccer. The 1999 state champion boys cross country team had four runners that lived in Poland. And while none of Mooney’s football players attended Poland Middle School, there are plenty who live in the district.

So even when Mooney’s athletes attend Catholic grade schools — as most of them do — some Poland fans still consider them “our kids.”

“We hear those things, but we really hear them from all the various districts,” said Bucci, who lives in Poland and has a grandson who attends Poland High. “That’s the way those communities feel even though we rarely get kids from the public schools.

“Probably 95 percent of our kids come from a parochial school like a St. Nick’s or a Holy Family or a St. Charles.”

Mooney actually prints each football player’s grade school on its roster, in part to stem some of the criticism. About two-thirds of this year’s football players came from a Catholic grade school and several others are from charter schools such as Alpha or Eagle Heights Academy, which only go through eighth grade.

And while you hear grumbling when players go from a public middle school to Mooney — Penn State linebacker Michael Zordich, for example, attended Canfield Middle School before transferring — the real furor hits when a standout athlete transfers from a public high school to a parochial one. Beachum’s decision, for instance, came less than a year after Campbell QB Derrell Johnson-Koulianos transferred to Mooney for his senior year.

“There were mixed feelings [about the transfer],” said Beachum, who played in two straight Division IV state championship games at Mooney. “There were definitely a lot of people happy about my move — mostly my supporters. And there were people who weren’t so happy — Poland fans who hated to see me go, hated to lose this player and wondering where is the program going.

“But that attitude was completely unnecessary because they did really well when I wasn’t there and the program is now on the rise. They’ve had a lot of success the past couple years.”

Poland is in the football playoffs for the third straight year and most of the animosity over Beachum’s transfer is gone, or at least buried under the surface. He was able to attend basketball games for both schools during his two years at Mooney and you can still find him playing basketball at Poland’s open gyms, which shows how much things have changed since that 2005 game.

“It was hard initially,” he said. “That basketball game was really my first time back in Poland after I left, and it was a really heated face-off between Mooney and Poland — and I was smack-dab in the middle of it.

“But once I worked my way back into it, seeing everybody again and getting back to the people I was close to, it got more comfortable. The next thing I knew, everything was cool. By my senior year, it was like I never left. Everyone was really warm again, and it was a family all over again.”

Beachum grew up in Youngstown, then attended Boardman schools for a few seasons before transferring to Poland in seventh grade, so he’s got a unique perspective on area football.

A lot of Mooney athletes lived in his neighborhood in Poland and he said players from both schools have talked about playing a football game for years.

“It’s always hyped up and anticipated and it never happens,” said Beachum.

“That’s why this week’s game is a really big deal.”

Unfortunately for Beachum, who had knee surgery Wednesday, he’ll be stuck on the couch for tonight’s game. But he’ll still be a fan.

But for which team?

“Uh, I knew this question was going to come up,” he said with a chuckle. “I’ve thought about it and you know I’m rooting for Mooney, just because they’re my alma mater. But I want Poland to do well.

“I hope it’s a great game, I really do.”

scalzo@vindy.com

SEE ALSO:Game day is — finally — here for Valley’s remaining teams and Fitch prepares for 10,000 fired-up fans tonight.


Comments

1terri1984(25 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Go MOONEY beat Poland.

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2mooneyhigh(7 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

6 TIME STATE CHAMPIONS

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3BayerSpons(9 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Goodluck to both teams tonight! I hope for a great injury free game!

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4ScarletGrey03(9 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

First time poster and yes, Mooney grad...

Before I go into my little rant I want to make it clear the physical assults that have occured (whether it be those discussed above or any other) are unexcusable, no question...

1) Given the disclaimer above, few people know the back stories of the incidents above and clearly poland would love to use them or any other ammo they can find to bash mooney: at the end of the basketball game, while players were shaking hands, a derogatory term for black people (and you know which one I mean) was used by Poland head coach in reference to Beachum to his face, I kid you not. Then, the Poland student who was punched at the ACT's used the same deroratory term against the Mooney student who punched him... and get your facts straight, it was a one punch and done incident, not a beat down. The injury was exacerbated because he fell and hit his head after he was punched. Regardless, it was stupid and unexcusable. But lets not kid ourselves, these same incidents go on at the public schools.

2) Please tell me who mooney recruits, who is doing the recruiting for mooney, and what these recruits are being promised... I've been around the programs and the school for a while, and i still cant find anyone who has been recruited. I just want to remind you that both MAURICE CLARRETT and BERNIE KOSAR wanted to attened Mooney and have their tuition paid, and they were both denied! And the last star football player I can think of from Poland who went to Mooney besides Beachum was Matt Kubik. He came to Mooney because he had Ben Baer infront of him, and as far as poland politics go, Kubik would have wasted his time on the bench. Instead he came to Mooney and earned a full ride to LA Tech.

3) Of course Mooney's students are from all of Youngstown's surrounding communities, thats were the parochial grade schools are! Those are our feeder schools.

4) In recent years Mooney and poland haven't scheduled to avoid ugly situations, however prior to any of this, the real reason poland and many other area schools wouldnt/wont schedule Mooney is pure and simple... They are affraid. They're too busy beating up Struthers, Niles, Chaney and so on.

I know there is no point wasting my breath, but it has to be said... Go ahead and continue to gripe about Mooney, whether it be out of fear, jealousy or a combination thereof.

Good luck Cards... Bring home another title!

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5terri1984(25 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Mooney 1993, I am just curious as to why you have so much negativity to the point of almost hate, geared toward your alma mater? Most people support their alma mater and it seems as if you want to crucify yours. Do you have anything positive to say about Mooney? I am so sorry if your high school years were not positive.

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6ScarletGrey03(9 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

So Poland will play us in every other sport except football? Typical Poland.

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7FormerYtowner(96 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

ScarletGrey03,
Who is doing the recruiting...the athletic boosters
What are they being promised... no tuition

Get your head out of the sand its not that hard to see.

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8larrythewineguy(50 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Mooney1993,
You are so superior. It must be so fulfilling to always be the smartest person in the room. I am sure you have been a shining light to the not so bright and less than best (as you described it) at the OSHAA. As I have stated already you can certainly find examples of student athletes that literally did not make the grade in both public and parochial schools. Your contention that this is more the norm than the exception in parochial schools is more of foundationless bluster. The majority of my team mates from the class of 1983 that furthered their academic and althletic careers attended Ivy League or small liberal arts colleges such as Brown, Dartmouth, Yale, Tulane, Mechant Marine Academy, University of Dayton, etc. I am sure with some thorough research you would discover this is the norm rather than the exception.
Obviously you have serious issues with organized religion, I would say it borders on an unhealthy fixation, and the issue of parochial athletics is your little cause celebre. I hope it helps with your inferiority complex.
I just had a flash of brilliance. I hope you do not mind as this is clearly your territory. Why don't you contact Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow? I am sure you are a huge fan of their work and Keith and Rachel would work tirelessly with you to end such injustice that favors the evils of organized religion.
By the way, you have posted 42 times and contacted the OHSAA and you have not invested any energy? You should receive an award for your humility and tireless efforts in an attempt to correct such an egregious miscarriage of justice. You are incredible!

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9larrythewineguy(50 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Ah the battle cry of of those with opinions rather than facts "Proof is nearly impossible!".Keep twisting the realities to suit your arguments. Hate is such a dark energy. It is usually born from a lack of self-worth and self-confidence. Those who possess these attributes typically contribute positively and serve to build these characteristics in others. Those who lack these traits typically seek fault in those that possess them.

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10theword(342 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Scrletgrey03.. How does a kid go to Campbell schools up until his senior year ( D. Johnson Kolianous ) and then transfer to Mooney without being recruited?

And Poland should not talk.. Wasn't Patton enrolled into the Campbell school district before leaving to go to Poland?

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11GeorgeFelixFarris(8 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

It's only a game! These are kids! An hour after the game they'll be hanging out together at Taco Bell and joking with each other. I went to Mooney and played for the first undefeated football team. I love the school. But Poland is a great school also. Great teachers, students and admin. I know lots of fine young people from both schools. There are good and bad apples everywhere. We have enough common enemies in this world. Let's not lump our neighbors into that group. CONSIDER THIS: How many communities have two schools from the same area in the third round of the playoff? I will be cheering for Mooney tonight. But if Poland wins, I'll be at the next game cheering for them. Good luck to both teams.

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12larrythewineguy(50 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Mooney1993,
It is so easy to hurl accusations with no substantiation. Please provide proof of these long held myths. Further, you place an amazing amount of importance on one or two athletes. Do you know anything about team sports? Is it your position that without these mythical recruits CMHS and UHS would not be as successful? Once again, more more opinion based bluster.

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13candystriper(575 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

The Mooney "Booster Club"... should be denied tickets and be formally disassociated from all athletic programs based on fashion sense alone.

Poland has THE library.

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14woolyd(579 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

I truly dont think anybody would complain about Mooney and Ursuline if they had rosters comparable to the teams they play. The bottomline is they have 70 players or more and their opponents generally in the mid to upper 40s. The fact is they have more athletes, more bodies to throw out there, therefore during the course of the games the other teams get worn down. Most of their opponents have players that play all three facets of the game (offense, defense, special teams) where Mooney and Ursuline have players specializing in only one position. Again as I sai before to make it fair dress the same amount of players as your opponents and let the rest sit on the sideline. Then nobody could complain about the result of the game.

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15BayerSpons(9 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

It really does matter what any of use say because Mooney1993 feeds off of our arguments! I am going to do what everyone else should... ignore him. A person like him isn't worth any more of my time.

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16bucknut09(13 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Mooney will never stop recruiting. That in and of itself does not bother me. I do have a problem with Mooney masquerading around as a Division 3 or 4 team. If they want to recruit division one college talent they should be moved to the division one high school level no matter what their overall enrollment is. This goes for all parachial schools throughout the state.

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17valleyresident(24 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

First off I did not go to either Poland or Mooney. I believe these private schools should only be allowed to play each other in their own division or league. It is insane that they recruit and suck up all the talent from the local public schools in the area. Then They play these public schools in the playoffs and win big. I have more respect for the public schools that win without going to all the schools in the area and sucking all of their talent away. The private schools like Mooney and Ursuline need to look themselves in the mirror and see the only thing they are good at is recruiting and buying a good team. Good luck to tall the Public schools that play tonight at least win or lose you can run on to the field with integrity and honor.

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18mooneybsball22(4 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

So everyone here is ranting and raving about how mooney is strictly a athletic school. Maybe people should look into other programs such as the speech team which has various state championships and national champions. Take a look at the entire spectrum before you open your mouths. pathetic.

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19trew2(1 comment)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Polands about going to a some High School for 4 years. Mooney is about the rest of your life.
Why do kids transfer? Quite simply to better themselves, and to be exposed to a tremendous tradition, education, and to be part of something. I don't expect the Pols to understand this, nor do I care if they ever do. MOONEY 24-POLAND 7. See you in 2049.

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20TB(1167 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

That's not necessarily true. What recruiting really does, either in private or public schools, is aids in destroying local communities. There was a time when a community would rally around its schools and, whether right or wrong, the sports programs, who were a very visible face of the very community.

Watching kids transfer and jump from district to district is a sad phenomenon. Pride in your community and school used to be a hallmark of this area, whether misplaced or not.

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