Mooney looks forward to Week 2 vs. Hoban
By Dan Hiner
The Cardinal Mooney football team still remembers coming up one drive short in a 19-14 loss to Steubenville in their Division IV district title game.
Cardinal Mooney head coach P.J. Fecko said the team remembers the loss and learned from it. But the team is now focused on their 2018 opponents.
Mooney has a friendlier schedule than in years past.
The Cardinals will open their season with six consecutive home games. Mooney has three true road games against Louisville, Warren Harding and Austintown Fitch. The 2018 Holy War is technically an away game, but Mooney and Ursuline both use Stambaugh Stadium.
Fecko said the schedule isn’t easy, but will be easier on the team. The Cardinals usually have to travel across the state to play away games, but travel won’t be a factor this season.
One home game already has the players’ attention.
The Cardinals will host Akron Hoban in Week 2. Mooney lost 31-13 at Hoban last season.
“Definitely looking forward to the Hoban game,” senior linebacker Luke Fulton said. “It’s definitely one we’re circling. It’s definitely one we’re really excited to go play.
“You know what you’re getting from them — they’re a three-time state champ. But in the same time, that why we came here. That’s exactly why we all came here. We want to play the best teams and see how we stack up.”
The Cardinals need to replace quarterback Antonio Page. John Murphy and Pat Guerrieri have been taking snaps during camp. Murphy, a senior, played in the playoffs last season while Page was dealing with an injury.
Chris Gruber and Jason Santisi are returning at running back. The duo will have to replace some of the production from last year’s starter Andre McCoy.
Gruber and Santisi both saw time last year and the transition hasn’t been too much of a concern.
“They had a lot of carries last year at that spot,” Fecko said. “Obviously you’d like to rely on experience because experience is something you can’t teach.”
The Cardinals have to replace four offensive linemen. Kyle Jornigan is returning to help anchor the offensive line at left tackle.
Nico Marchionda and Anthony Fire will see time at receiver.
The Cardinals’ front seven will be the strength of the team this season.
Fulton returns for his senior year and has received quit a bit of offseason attention.
He committed to Michigan State in May and was named a Butkus Award nomination on July 23. The Butkus Award is given to the top linebacker in the country. Fulton is one of three Ohio players nominated.
“Working so hard my whole life, trying to pursue this and try to pursue college football — let alone work my way into one of the top 50 linebackers in the country,” Fulton said. “[The commitment and award nomination] is an achievement of a goal. Now it’s time to set more new goals and kill people this season.”
Cheriff Jamison is returning as a pass rusher for the Cardinals. The defensive end is a Division I prospect with offers from several Mid-American Conference schools, Kentucky and Youngstown State.
Marchionda will return at defensive back and is expected to help lead the secondary.
Fire is returning at punter, but the kicking situation is still undecided. Brothers Andrew and Brian Philibin are competing for the kicking job. Mike Scavina could also see time at kicker.
The three are also competing for kickoff duties.