CANTON - Even the most talented player at Cardinal Mooney may have to wait for his time to perform.
Senior tailback Roosevelt Griffin didn't get down last year when he wasn't the top man on the depth chart - he just used the time to evaluate how he could get better, and be ready when his number was called.
That call came this year, when Griffin emerged as the top man in Mooney's running back trio, which also includes juniors Marcus McWilson and Justus Ellis-Moore.
Tribune Chronicle / Michael Taylor
Cardinal Mooney tailback Roosevelt Griffin scores a touchdown against Springfield Shawnee in the Division III?state championship game Friday at Fawcett Stadium in?Canton. Mooney won, 21-14.
"It's very competitive at Mooney, so you can't get too down if you're not playing as much as you want," Griffin said. "I would have liked to play more, but I still needed to grow, so I dedicated my offseason to getting bigger and faster."
Griffin capped off a stellar senior season on Friday in the Division III state championship, where he rushed for 120 yards on 21 carries, and scored on an 18-yard dash.
"Roosevelt has been very dedicated to becoming a great player," Mooney coach P.J. Fecko said. "He waited for his turn to play and have a large role with the team, and he's certainly taken advantage of his opportunity this season."
Patience paid off for Griffin in the big picture, and it's also a staple of his game as a runner. On Friday, he burned Shawnee for five runs of more than 10 yards, including one of 36, which powered a Mooney scoring drive. He did so almost exclusively on zone plays.
Fecko said Griffin's ability to stop and start, and find creases in the line made him a perfect fit for such a scheme, and Griffin agreed.
"I feel real comfortable running down the line and finding a hole when it opens," Griffin said. "But it's easy to go with the flow when you have a line that can do a lot of different things."
Griffin has saved his best for the playoffs. He rushed for 150 yards and scored two touchdowns in the regional championship game against Steubenville. Then he racked up 244 yards and four touchdowns on Dover the next week.
"Success at Mooney is measured so much by what you do this time of the year," Griffin said. "We expect so much and play such a tough schedule, so we're ready to play in big games."
Next year, Griffin hopes to play in college, but he'll take some time to reflect on his senior season.
"I don't think I can ever describe how it feels to end your career with a state championship," he said. "And to do it here is so special, because it's like a family. I just thank God for the ability to play football, and my parents for sending me to Mooney."