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Spartans get win four from Mooney

September 26, 2018
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

There wasn't much that Boardman head football coach Joe Ignazio needed to say to his kids in the week heading into their clash with Cardinal Mooney at Stambaugh Stadium.

The annual match with Mooney is always highlighted on the Spartans' schedule as the measuring stick contest. During Mooney week, Coach Ignazio would not shower his foe with a lot of kudos except to say that "they are a great team." Ignazio's boys were just a little bit greater last Friday night.

It wasn't the most aesthetically pleasing of performances by the Spartans, but it didn't have to be. Boardman avenged its loss last year to the Cardinals by edging out Mooney 8-6 in the sloppily played showdown. The Spartans have now won four of their first five games in 2018.

"It wasn't a pretty game, but we won period," said Ignazio emphatically. "The kids fought their butts off all night."

The Boardman boys had to fight from behind to earn this revenge victory. Mooney was ahead 6-0 early in the second quarter when the Spartans used a very fortuitous bounce to get on the scoreboard. A snap by the Cardinals' center sailed over quarterback John Murphy's head and bounded into the end zone where Murphy knocked it out of bounds. That play resulted in a safety and two points for Boardman's defense. On Mooney's next possession, a Boardman interception set the visitors up on the Cardinals' 35-yard line. A pass interference call moved the Spartans into the Red Zone. A few plays later, quarterback Mike O'Horo hit Kareem Hamdan for a short touchdown pass. The extra point was blocked, but Boardman still carried an 8-6 lead into intermission. It would stay that way the entire second half thanks to Boardman's defenders.

Mooney couldn't mount any momentum after halftime against the Spartans' stout defense. Boardman forced two fumbles and allowed only 70 yards passing. Six Cardinal penalties helped stall drives too. With the Spartans' offense in as much of a funk as their opponent, Coach Ignazio was thankful for the defensive output.

"Our kids are relentless on the defensive side of the ball," said the coach.

Certainly, the Spartans will need to accumulate more than the 160 yards of total offense they accounted for last Friday night if they are to keep the momentum of this win at Mooney going. One of the ways they'll do that is by making the most of their scoring opportunities.

"Early in the game we didn't execute," Ignazio said. "We played football in (Mooney's) end the whole first half, but it didn't pay off. We need to go in there and take care of the mistakes."

There will be no room for mistakes this week when the Spartans play their most difficult game to date at Canfield. This clan of Cardinals is 5-0 and it seems as if they haven't lost a regular season game since Ignazio was lacing it up for the Spartans (actually it's Week 9 of the 2016 season). More impressively is the ease in which the Cardinals have clobbered their opposition. Canfield has an incredible 155-47 scoring advantage so far this season. Included in that lofty total is a 17-0 shutout of high-scoring Struthers on the road last weekend. Coach Ignazio has nothing but respect for the Canfield club.

"(Canfield) is a well coached football team," Ignazio admitted. "Their kids play tough."

Boardman's coach knows that his team will need to be on the ball this week in practice. With Canfield seemingly ending its gridiron relationship with longtime nemesis Poland after this season, Ignazio thinks it'll be his gang that the Cardinals will target from now on.

"Canfield prepares for us like we are their rival," the coach theorized. "Poland won't play them anymore so they look to us. We approach this week like we need to know they're our next rival."

The Spartans will also approach this week like the game with the parochial Cardinals is a distant memory.

"Our kids need to enjoy the win against Mooney, but flush it after today," said Ignazio last Saturday. "We will be on the road again (this Friday) so we need to get it done again."



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