Both schools will play for their third state crowns in this decade.
By TOM WILLIAMS
VINDICATOR SPORTS sTAFF
YOUNGSTOWN — After the Ursuline High football team qualified for its third straight state championship game appearance, senior center David Rossi admitted that his teammates’ jubilation was contained.
“It’s big, but we’ve got unfinished business,” said Rossi on Friday after the Irish defeated West Lafayette Ridgewood, 48-6, at Canton Central Catholic’s Lowell Klinefelter Field.
That win advances Ursuline (10-3) to Friday’s Division V state final against Coldwater (13-1) at Canton’s Fawcett Stadium.
Also playing in a state final game on Friday will be Ursuline’s archrival Mooney (14-0). The Cardinals advanced to the Div. III title contest by blasting Steubenville, 45-7, at Fawcett Stadium.
Mooney will play Columbus DeSales (11-3) at Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. It will be the Cardinals’ fifth state game in six seasons.
Ursuline coach Dan Reardon said having gone through championship week twice helps.
“This week, there are a lot of distractions,” Reardon said. “There are so many things that a typical week doesn’t bring you.
“Everything increases — the level of competition obviously, the media requests, the booster club requests, the ticket request,” Reardon said. “Everything is turned up a notch.
“Last year, we handle it much better the second time around,” Reardon said. “And I’m sure we’ll handle it this time.”
The Irish and Cardinals are seeking their third state crowns in this decade.
In 2000, Ursuline defeated Coldwater, 49-37, to win in Div. IV. Last year, the Irish avenged their 2007 title game loss in Div. V by defeating Findlay Liberty-Benton, 21-0.
In 2004, Mooney won the Div. IV title by beating Versailles, 28-6. Two years later, the Cardinals defeated Jonathan Alder, 26-12.
The result was different in 2005 and 2007 when Mooney played Coldwater. The first time, the Cardinals lost, 33-9. In 2007, Coldwater edged Mooney, 28-27.
Asked about the difficulty of avoiding overconfidence, Irish senior tailback Allen Jones said, “It [might be] hard but we rise over adversity and everything that goes on on the field.”
The unbeaten Cardinals have been challenged in a few of their games while the Irish lost to Pittsburgh Central Catholic, Mentor Lake Catholic and Mooney.
“We started off kind of rocky, but we came together and now we are finishing strong,” said junior running back Akise Teague who had a 76-yard run and a 74-yard punt return touchdown against Ridgewood.
Asked when he thought the Irish had the Ridgewood game under control, Teague said, “When we started breaking the real long runs, when the offense started flowing.”
Long runs were also a factor in Mooney’s dismissal of Steubenville. West Virginia recruit Braylon Heard had a 94-yard touchdown and rushed for 298 yards. He scored two other touchdowns as the Cardinals avenged their 2008 playoff ouster by the Big Red.
Omens point to two more football championships for the Mahoning Valley.
Ursuline has a 1-0 series lead over Coldwater. In Week 2 of this regular season, Mooney defeated DeSales, 21-14, at Youngstown State University’s Stambaugh Stadium.