YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Over the course of 42 years (from 1970 to 2011), the Mooney football program was second to none in the state of Ohio. The Cardinals captured eight state titles and finished with a losing record just once during that time frame.
Since Mooney defeated Shawnee in the 2011 Division III State Championship, the Cardinals have accumulated a 48-47 record over the past nine years while failing to register a winning mark in five of those campaigns.
Carl Pelini begins his second year as the Cardinals’ head coach but his first full off-season.
“It’s very important to have a complete off-season,” he said. “We’ve been working hard in the weight room since last November. Many of our younger players have developed and will provide more depth than we had a year ago. Last year, we only had 12 seniors and three of them were new to the program. We asked a lot of our younger players and that could pay dividends this year.”
Mooney opens up Friday, August 20 against the Spartans in Boardman. The Cardinals will play each of their home games at Mineral Ridge this fall.
2020 Record: 2-6 (1-2, 3rd place in SVC)
Coach: Carl Pelini, 2nd season at Mooney (2-6)
Previewing Mooney’s Offense
Scoring Offense: 16.9 (47th in area)
Returning Starters: 8
Key Returnees: Jack Desmond, SR/OL; Adam Garloch, JR/OL; Tino Merlo, JR/OL; DaVontae Miller, SR/FB; Zy’ere Rogers, SR/RB
Key Losses: Pat Guerrieri, QB; Kerri Hewlett, OL; Dan Lyons, WR; AJ Pecchia, WR
Name to watch for: Zy’ere Rogers, RB
A year ago, Mooney’s offense was only able to score an average of 9.4 points over their first five weeks. However, the Cardinals averaged 29.3 points over their last three games.
The Cardinals feature their standout runner in senior Zy’ere Rogers. Last year, Rogers gained 1,189 yards on 165 carries (7.2 ypc) while scoring seven times on the ground. Rogers also finished second on the team in receptions (15) and receiving yards (134).
“I could see Zy’ere getting even stronger and faster,” Pelini said. “We’re looking for our two-year starter (at tackle) Adam Garloch to provide stability and experience along the offensive line as well.”
In addition to Garloch, Mooney returns a pair of starters up front as their senior center Jack Desmond and junior tackle Tino Merlo both are back in the mix.
“Tino played a great deal at tackle a year ago,” Pelini said. “Especially late in the season. Senior Mitch Tofil has also put on a great deal of size and strength. We’ll have much more competition and much more depth on the offensive line, so I am interested to see how it shakes out throughout camp.”
Davontae Miller will be back as well, as he was able to churn out 240 rushing yards (five TDs) and 43 receiving yards on five catches (8.6 avg).
“DaVontae is a good leader and a good football player,” Pelini said. “He brings a great deal of experience on both sides of the ball and he brings a competitive nature to the field every day. I expect a great deal of leadership from him, as well as Jack (Desmond), Jack Phillips, Tyrin Howell and the rest of the senior class. They’ve worked hard enough in the off-season that the younger players should be listening when they speak.”
The team must find replacements for their quarterback Pat Guerrieri (719 passing yards, 242 rushing yards) and their All-League receiver AJ Pecchia (208 yards receiving), along with stud lineman Kerri Hewlett.
The competition for the starting quarterback position appears to be up in the air at this point.
“Alec Delsignore, Cam Sweeney and Ashton O’Brien – all have talent, but they’re all a little different,” Pelini said. “I think whoever wins the battle will determine the direction of our offense.”
Previewing Mooney’s Defense
Scoring Defense: 23.8 (T-30th in area)
Returning Starters: 4
Key Returnees: Daqua Douglass, SR/LB; DaVontae Miller, SR/LB
Key Losses: Carl Farina, DL; Michael Pastella, LB; Jordan Sheehan, DB; Will Skretta, DL
Name to watch for: DaVontae Miller, LB
The production that Michael Pastella and Will Skretta gave Mooney a year ago was exactly what defensive coordinators want out of their seniors. Pastella led the team with 93 tackles. Skretta took team-high honors with seven quarterback takedowns. This year, a group of younger players will try to step into the roles left by those experienced seniors.
Davontae Miller and Daqua Douglass were in the top 10 on the team in tackles. Miller finished third with 64 tackles (1 QB sack). Douglass closed out his junior year with two quarterback sacks — good for third on the team.
“We’ll bring a great deal of speed and athleticism,” Pelini said of his defense. “We’re going to be much deeper than we were a year ago. I also think we’ll be longer. I know that sounds strange, but the best defenses I’ve been around have had great length at the safety, linebacker and (the defensive) end positions.”
2020 SVC Standings
Ursuline – 3-0 (7-3)
Chaney – 2-1 (3-6)
Mooney – 1-2 (2-6)
East – 0-3 (0-7)
Aug. 20 – at Boardman
Aug. 27 – at Hubbard
Sept. 3 – at Chaney
Sept. 11 – Linsly (WV)
Sept. 17 – Fitch
Sept. 24 – East
Oct. 1 – at Brush
Oct. 9 – Warren Harding
Oct. 15 – at Steubenville
Oct. 23 – Ursuline