Chagrin Falls looks for victory and third straight championship game appearance
Chagrin Falls coach Mark Iammarino is spending this Thanksgiving Day in pretty much the same fashion as last year.
And, the year before that.
He’ll wake up early — around 6 a.m., get to the school around 8:30, joining his coaching staff and players, they’ll have a meeting and watch film, and then hit the practice field for a good two hours.
By noon, Iammarino will be gathered around a kitchen table ready to dig into a traditional feast.
“It makes for a great holiday,” he said of the practice to gear up for Friday’s Division III state semifinal versus Mooney.”In addition to the time you spend with your family, our players look forward to this day.”
This will be the Tigers’ third-straight trip to the state semifinals. They were state runner-ups in Div. IV the past two years, falling to Kettering Alter 37-7 in 2009, while Columbus Hartley downed them 34-13 a year ago.
Since moving up to Div. III for the 2011 season, Iammarino feels this Chagrin Falls team (13-0) is even hungrier than the last two.
“We don’t want to be second place again,” he said.”People have told us that it would be harder to compete against the bigger schools, because we’re now the cutoff for D-3. So, that and the fact that we want to win it all has motivated us.”
The last time the Cardinals (9-3) reached this point, they took home the ultimate prize and have their eyes set on it again. A bulk of the current Cards were on the 2009 that defeated Columbus DeSales and brought the seventh state title home to Mooney. Coach P.J. Fecko won’t be happy until he sees an eigthy trophy sitting in the school’s already packed case.
“The thing to realize is you can’t fall short,” he said. “Because, if you fall short at this point, you’ve wasted a lot of time. There’s no sense getting this far unless you win a state championship.”
Chagrin Falls’ Kurt Vidmer, Everett Dishong, Jack Campbell and Mike Tozzi are ready to stuff up those dreams and keep the Cardinals out of the end zone. The quartet are the top returning tacklers from last season’s campaign and are the biggest threats on a defensive unit that allows an average of 15.3 points per game. It’s shut out opponents twice this season and in four other games held offenses to under 10 points. Vidmer is the leading tackler with 114 stops, Dishong is tops with 25 solo tackles, Campbell has six tackles for a loss and three fumble recoveries and Tozzi is the team sackmaster with 12.
“Having those four guys back in leadership roles has been really great for us defensively,” Iammarino said. “We’ve been running the same defense for the last five or six years and I think the continuity has helped because they get familiar with the terminology and responsibility.”
Anthony DeCamillo is the Tigers’ leading receiver with 37 catches for 600 yards and eight touchdowns. Those hands have also hauled in five interceptions. Iammarino’s son, Tommy, quarterbacks the team in their balanced offensive attack. The junior has a 68.9 completion percentage and he also hands off to Jack Campbell (162-1,065) or Bradley Munday (95-722).
Mooney boasts an offensive that puts up 34.3 points per contest, a defensive that holds opponents to 247.2 yards per game and just 4.8 yards per play and a return team that averages 25.7 yards off kickoffs and 29.4 yards off punts.