By TOM WILLIAMS
For Cardinal Mooney High School, eight is great.
Mooney bested the Shawnee Braves for their 8th State Championship 21-14
After the Mooney football team’s Division III state championship win on Friday at Fawcett Stadium, the student section serenaded their fans with the chant: “I believe in arithmetic.”
The 21-14 victory over Springfield Shawnee’s Braves gives Mooney eight state championships, including four in the past eight seasons. Only St. Ignatius in Cleveland with 10 has more.
Mooney’s record in championship games improved to 8-3.
As the Cardinals players celebrated their victory, several Braves fell to the turf after their school’s first state title appearance.
At the same time, quarterback P.J. Quinn, tailback Roosevelt Griffin and lineman Carmen Lanzo snuck up on head coach P.J. Fecko and delivered a shower of ice.
As the championship trophy was presented, the Cardinals were saluted by their fans as well as hundreds of Shawnee supporters who remained in the stands.
In the Mooney stands, senior Matt McCauley said the Cardinals’ student section didn’t create any special cheers against Shawnee.
“Our thing is that we are for Mooney and against no one,” McCauley said. “We’re here to cheer for our guys.”
Mooney’s win was anything but secure until late in the fourth quarter. Trailing 21-7 at halftime, the Braves (14-1) scored the only points of the second half when quarterback Brad Jarzab scored on a 7-yard run with 5:38 to go.
On their final possession, the Braves (with the help of two pass-interference penalties) drove to the Mooney 12. But on fourth and six, Cardinals defensive back Ryan Farragher
batted away Jarzab’s final pass in the end zone to seal the win.
Lineman Austin Trgovich said his reaction after that play “is indescribable. The whole stands going nuts — that was one of the greatest feelings in the world.”
After winning four state titles (two in Division IV, two in Division III), Fecko was asked to compare this one to the others in 2004, 2006 and 2009.
“At this point, it’s a little bit difficult for me to evaluate how they are different or not different,” Fecko said. “It’s impossible to rate them, and I won’t.”
Instead, he anticipates a time to look back.
“It usually takes a little time to reflect on the season,” Fecko said. “That’s a wonderful thing when you win a state championship, that you go the distance and then you step back on a positive note and you get a chance to think back on all the special moments that have occurred.”
Fecko’s calm demeanor was noticed in the postgame press conference.
“What you see is what you get — I don’t get very excited, I don’t get very depressed,” Fecko said. “Our team takes on that personality. It’s a matter of showing up and going to work, punching a clock. I’m from a blue-collar
family, and one thing my dad taught me is to work as hard as you can.
“At the end of the day, your rewards will come,” Fecko said, “And they have.”
One of the Cardinals’ three losses was to arch-rival Ursuline High School (25-21) in Week 9.
Quinn said the defeat by the Fighting Irish taught them a great lesson for the postseason.
“We knew we didn’t want that feeling again, so we really buckled down, didn’t take any team lightly,” Quinn said.