Their teams are both called Cardinals, but that’s apparently where the common ground soon will end for the athletic programs at Canfield and Cardinal Mooney.
Officials from both high schools confirmed Tuesday that Canfield has informed Cardinal Mooney it will no longer schedule games against the private, Catholic school. Canfield reportedly will honor existing contracts for athletic events, including golf and tennis matches, but no further contests between the schools will take place.
The news broke, oddly enough, on Tuesday. Cardinal Mooney hosted Canfield in a boys basketball game Tuesday night. Canfield won, 60-59. Dana Balash, the sports director at WFMJ-Channel 21 — a Vindicator news partner — first reported Canfield’s decision to stop scheduling Cardinal Mooney during the station’s 6 p.m. newscast.
“It’s unfortunate that this issue of us playing or not playing in the future is overshadowing the many exemplary performances and great games between our two schools in the past, as well as tonight,” Canfield athletic director Greg Cooper said.
Officials from both schools spoke about the apparent end of one of the Mahoning Valley’s top public-private athletic rivalries before the teams took the floor Tuesday night.
“I’m a little sad that we’re not going to be playing,” Canfield coach Todd Muckleroy said. “The teams that I have coached have a storied history with Cardinal Mooney. When I arrived at Canfield, I found out real quick that Poland was a big rival, but our kids also enjoy playing Cardinal Mooney. It has been a healthy rivalry.”
Cardinal Mooney coach Brian Danilov agreed.
“I know that it’s not the coaches who don’t want to play,” Danilov said. “I’d like to know the reason why and I wish that someone would come out and give me the straight reason, not some back-door, politically correct answer.
“I know that there are a lot of people in Canfield that would want us to continue playing and I know that our people want to play.”
Canfield Superintendent Alex Geordan has not commented publicly on his district’s decision to stop playing teams from Cardinal Mooney. Geordan did not return a voice message left at his home by a Vindicator reporter on Tuesday night.
Canfield and Cardinal Mooney have competed head-to-head in most sports, with the exception of football, for years.
Cardinal Mooney athletic director Don Bucci and principal John Young both hope those regularly scheduled games won’t come to an end.
“We’ve always had very competitive games in the past and I am hoping that we can get past this,” Bucci said. “Hopefully somebody at Canfield can mandate this so that we can play in the future. We’ve not dominated anything and they’ve not dominated anything. We’re basically in the same division so it makes sense to play.”
“We’ve played Canfield dating to the 1960s when I went to school,” Young said. “I heard — and they were strictly rumors but have since been confirmed — that we were not playing in basketball next year, but will be playing in some minor sports.
“While we played them twice in basketball a year ago and once this year, I am hoping that we’ll be able to work out scheduling with all of our teams in the future because it is a great rivalry.”