McDonald, Mogadore are familiar playoff opponents


Williams, McDonald

looking to change their

fortunes vs. Mogadore

By Steve Ruman

sports@vindy.com

MCDONALD

In most cases, coaches who are preparing to face an out-of-town foe in Week 12 find themselves scrambling for any bit of information possible on the upcoming opponent.

McDonald coach Dan Williams doesn’t need to dig deep for information as the Blue Devils (11-0) prepare to play Mogadore (10-1) Friday in a Division VI, Region 21 semifinal in Aurora.

Williams is all too familiar with the Wildcats, past and present.

“The coach, Matt Adorni. has been there forever, they are always a playoff team, its a typical Mogadore team with an aggressive defense and a punishing rushing game,” Williams said. “With Mogadore, you always know what you’re getting. They are consistently one of the top teams in the state.”

Williams may have exaggerated a little, but not by much. Adorni has been at the helm for 15 years. He’s one of just four Mogadore coaches over the past 58 years.

The Wildcats don’t always make the playoffs, but they rarely miss out. This is their 32nd appearance, including 20 straight. They have three state titles and 17 regional championships.

This year’s rushing game has produced more than 2,600 yards from a trio of backs.

“Our two programs are alike in many ways, the success, the stability, the style of football,” Williams said. “Of course, the big difference is we’re seeking that title.”

The other difference? In five playoff games between the storied programs, Mogadore owns a 5-0 record against McDonald. (Mogadore is 30-5 all-time against teams from the Mahoning Valley, including 16-2 in the playoffs.)

In 1983, Williams was an eighth-grader who watched from the stands as Mogadore rolled to a 27-0 win over McDonald in a second-round game. In ‘87, Williams was the McDonald quarterback when a failed two-point conversion was the difference in a 35-34 first-round loss. In 2000, Williams was a rookie coach who saw his Devils fall to the Wildcats 18-6 in the regional semifinals. Mogadore also got the better of McDonald in 2010 and 2014.

Yet while the past records suggest that McDonald may be fighting an uphill battle, the current group of Blue Devils are eager to turn the page and begin a new chapter in the history books.

“Our coaches told us all about Mogadore, we know the history and all but we’re going to use it as motivation,” said senior running back Alex Cintron. “We’ve been playing really well lately, but the thing is we know there is still room for improvement. We feel like we still haven’t hit our peak.”

It’s difficult to imagine the Blue Devils playing much better than they did last Friday when they defeated Rootstown (9-2) 46-20 in a regional quarterfinal. True, the Devils were down 7-0, marking the first time all season they trailed in a game. However, from that point on they dominated the Rovers. Cintron and senior quarterback Josh Celli combined to rush for 289 yards and five touchdowns. Celli also threw for a pair of touchdowns while the McDonald defense held the Rovers to their second-lowest output of the season.

“We still felt like we had a lot to prove heading into that game,” Celli said. “We wanted to show that our regular=-season success wasn’t a fluke, and we wanted to prove that we can compete against teams outside the area.

“We’re still not satisfied. We still feel like we have a lot to accomplish.”

Williams acknowledged that he was pleased “with every aspect of our game” against Rootstown. He praised his 12 seniors for “pushing themselves hard, and leading the rest of the team.”

He too believes the Devils can still push the limits on just how far they can continue their magical ride through 2018.

“This group has gotten better each week, they’ve been fantastic at staying focused and maintaining that drive to keep improving,” Williams said. “They have taken on all challengers, they have played their biggest games on the road. They just continue to take care of business.”

The next order of business will be trying to settle the score with an old nemesis.

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