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Cardinal Mooney in hunt for another title

Ground game will decide championship

December 6, 2013
By JOHN VARGO - Tribune Chronicle ( , Underthelights

YOUNGSTOWN - If the over-under on the time of this afternoon's game is 2 hours, your best bet is to go with the under.

Both Cardinal Mooney and Clinton-Massie have a propensity to run the ball and run it quite often during today's Division IV state championship game at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon, starting at 3 p.m.

"Obviously they're a team that's run-oriented," said Cardinal Mooney coach P.J. Fecko, whose team enters the game at 10-4. "Those numbers are very, very similar. It's obviously going to make for a pretty fast game as far as time goes with two teams running the ball. The possessions, there probably won't be that many possessions. Each possession is going to be very important."

Clinton-Massie (13-1) has two running backs in 6-foot-2, 190-pound Chayse Wolf and 6-1, 215 Bayle Wolf. Bayle has rushed 252 times for 1,784 yards and 28 touchdowns, while Chayse ran 198 times for 1,359 yards and 20 scores.

Bayle, who has sustained a severe arm injury during one of the team's scrimmages and a lower-leg injury six weeks ago, is almost back to normal, Falcons coach Dan McSurley said.

"He's as close to 100 percent than he's been all year," said McSurley, whose team edged top-ranked Kenton in a state semifinal, 21-20. "I've notice from each playoff game he's gotten progressively better. Last week against Kenton in the second half, he kind of put that team on his shoulders and kind of carried the load."

Fact Box

Radio:1240 am WBBW; 1390 am WNIO

Time: 3 p.m

TV: SportsTime Ohio

Where: Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, Massillon

Who: Mooney vs Clinton-Massie

Clinton-Massie's defense will be tested early and often with the one-two punch of Cardinal Mooney seniors Mark Handel (6-0, 180) and C.J. Amill (5-10, 165). The two speedster backs have been the beneficiaries of a traditionally dominant Cardinal offensive line. Handel has 174 attempts for 1,213 yards and 12 touchdowns, while Amill had 187 attempts for 1,210 yards and 11 scores.

"They're going to try to get on you," McSurley said. "If they get on you, it's hard to get off of them. Our point of emphasis this week will be, obviously, attacking our gap, playing gap sound. Then, once we hit our gap, we're going to have to get off the block. If they stay on the block, it's going to be rough because their size is a challenge to us. We're going to have to play fast, hit the gaps. Once we hit our gaps, we have to get off the blocks.

"I think big teams like that, that's where they can have an advantage. If your kids can't get off their blocks, they're going to have their way. That's going to be the scheme or what we're going to try to do in practice."

Fecko said the line of scrimmage will go a long way to deciding today's game.

"That's a big part of it, obviously, who can establish the line of scrimmage, win the line of scrimmage," Fecko said. "It's going to be difficult. I think mistakes are going to be very, very crucial because I don't know how many touches each team is going to get on the offensive side. I think first down is going to play a huge part in the game.

"If you can win the battle of field position, win it up front and win the first down on both sides of the ball, you give yourself a decent shot."

Both teams have two quarterbacks who can provide a spark on offense. Cardinal Mooney senior Jon Saadey (6-0, 190) is 88 of 168 for 1,350 yards with 12 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Saadey's biggest target is Handel, who has 446 yards on 28 receptions and three scores.

Meanwhile, Clinton-Massie's Hunter Fentress (6-0, 170) is 61 of 111 for 1,193 yards with 10 touchdowns and four picks.

"Teams have a had tough time handling their run game," Fecko said. "When someone does a good job containing a little bit, they hit you with the pass. They don't throw the ball a whole lot. But when they do, it's pretty darn effective. They're a handful to deal with."



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