Fecko out, Pelini in at Mooney

Longtime Cardinals coach won 4 state titles

YOUNGSTOWN — Longtime Cardinal Mooney High School football coach P.J. Fecko was let go by the school on Monday, according to a press release.

Fecko, who led the Cardinals to four state titles, will be replaced by Carl Pelini, a Mooney graduate who has head coaching experience at the high school and college level. Pelini was hired on an interim basis.

No reason was given for the change, which comes less than week before fall sports are set to begin practices (Aug. 1).

“P.J. Fecko dedicated his heart and soul to this program, and we will always take great pride in what he accomplished,” said Cardinal Mooney High School President Thomas Maj, who took over his role in April. “We thank him for his service to our school. With our storied history and devoted alumni base, we are ready to begin the next chapter in our school’s history.”

It was an abrupt exit for one of the area’s most successful coaches.

Fecko, who took over for legendary coach Don Bucci in 2000, earned a record of 159-80, including state championships in 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2011. The Cardinals reached the playoffs 13 times and were state runners-up in 2005, 2007 and 2013. They last reached the playoffs in 2017.

A message left for Mooney athletic director James Jablonski was not immediately returned. The release stated Fecko will continue to teach at the school.

Pelini, the younger brother of former Youngstown State University football coach Bo Pelini, was recently hired as Mooney’s associate athletic director for advancement. Carl Pelini was head coach at Austintown Fitch High School from 2000 to 2002, with a record of 12-18.

Since then, he has coached at the college level, including a head coaching position at Florida Atlantic and most recently as defensive coordinator under his brother at YSU. He also was interim head coach at Bowling Green State University.


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