No one said repeating would be easy and Cardinal Mooney has won enough football state titles (eight) that everyone associated with the program knows the challenge they face.
The Cardinals are in a tough spot as they try to defend their 2011 Division III state championship. Coming off a bye week, Mooney is 2-3 and stands 14th in Region 11. Since just eight teams from the region will make the playoffs, the Cardinals have a difficult task ahead.
The combined record of the teams Mooney has faced thus far is 23-7. The schools remaining on the schedule have a record of 17-6. The schedule includes four of the current top eight teams in Divison I, Region 1.
P.J. Fecko came into his 13th season as the Cardinals’ head coach with a record of 113-39.
Q. Regarding the bye week, would you rather have jumped right back into action after a tough overtime loss or was the break good for your team?
A. It is a break that we knew was coming, it was built into the schedule as it has been in previous years. The outcome the week before has nothing to do with it. It is what it is, it is part of the plan. We go with the plan and make the time as useful as possible.
Q. How have you used the extra week?
A. Just as we viewed it in the past we used it the same this year. It’s a time to catch our breath and heal up the bumps and bruises that may have occurred in the front part of the schedule. With that said we also have a chance to do some conditioning that we don’t always have time for in the week-to-week process.
We work on fundamentals and we are not necessarily focused toward a particular opponent. It is a lot like preseason in that we have instruction with no specific game planning. We are working on our skills to get better. Then when we get into game week we start to look at the next opponent.
Q. Talk about your schedule, one of the most difficult in the state. Do your players realize that and take pride it?
A. It’s hard to ignore. It is a schedule that is extrememly difficult. Our opponents are some great teams and some great programs from top to bottom. Obviously we know it’s coming and we have to prepare for it but it doesn’t allow for any slip-ups along the way. The teams are quality opponents and they demand that you play at your highest level just to compete.
Q. What about Lakewood St. Edward this week? What are the major challenges they present?
A. St. Ed’s is an outstanding football team and they are on a roll right now. They have some great athletes and are playing solid in all three phases. They are obviously good on offense and defense but on special teams they have been doing a lot of good things. They has scored a lot of point and have changed the field possession. They have been solid in all three phases. They are scoring a lot of points and they are stingy on the defensive side.
Q. What areas of your team have you been most pleased with and what areas need improvement?
A. It think it’s been our overall team play in certain instances. I can’t pinpoint one specific area either positively or negatively, but we’ve been inconsistent. Our overall team play has been good in spots but the biggest part has been inconsistency of making plays. We are finding ways to battle and finding ways to win, we see flashes of that and some great examples of that. But on the other side we are inconsistent. When we have opportunities, we aren’t always capitalizing on those opportunities.
It’s a combination of a bunch of things. We have to have an understanding that when we have an opportunity we have to capitalize. In saying that the opponents we play do not give you much of a margin for error. We have to have a sense of urgency when it comes to capitalizing and finishing when we have the opportunities.
Interview by Doug Chapin, The Vindicator