Updated: Oct 7
Update: As of the morning of October 7th, Cardinal Mooney had to forfeit a win they had against Youngstown East. This is due to an ineligible play from week 6. Mooney is 3-4 on the season.
On Friday night the Raiders faced off against the Boardman Spartans in a must win game and won 24-21. Junior kicker Jake Daugherty hit a 17-yard game-winning field goal as time expired on the clock. Daugherty's kick is the Malutic Live Week 7 High School Play of the Week.
Congratulations to Jake!
Heading into the Boardman game, the goal was to establish the run, an area that needed improvement if the Raiders wanted to get their offense back on the right track. Running backs O'Ryan Dukes and Ryan Powell carried the football for a total of 161 yards and a touchdown between the two. Dukes, playing in his first real action of varsity football at running back, had 13 carries for 85 yards, an average of 6.5 yards per carry. Not only did Dukes perform at a high level on offense, he had a kick off return that went 54-yards, setting up the Raiders for a touchdown in the third quarter.
It would be an understatement and a disservice if I failed to mention the impact Ryan Powell had in the running game on Friday night. Not only did Powell rush for a season high 76-yards and a touchdown, his impact as a blocker was exceptional. Having Powell as the 'H back' and Dukes in pistol formation behind quarterback Dalys Jett, paved the way for Dukes to rush for the amount of yardage that he did. Look for the Raiders to continue to utilize Dukes and Powell but also to mix in Javontae Jones this week as well. The three backs will play a vital role if the Raiders want to continue their winning success on offense.
Raiders quarterback Dalys Jett rushed for 98 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries, a 4.7 yards per carry average. Jett went 5 for 11 for 73 yards in the air and hit sophomore receiver Chaz Coleman for a clutch 40-yard gain on 2nd down and 6, down 8 late in the fourth quarter. Coleman's catch set the Raiders in prime position to score and Jett did just that on a quarterback ISO run. The two point conversion was a quarterback stretch to the left pylon, and Jett extended the ball just inches in the end zone.
With the game tied at 21 a piece, Boardman got the ball back with plenty of time left in the fourth quarter. Their goal was to get into field goal range and win the ball game; however, Raiders sophomore safety Raylin Adams had a different plan in mind. Adams intercepted Boardman quarterback Tomas Andujar and the Raiders were in business with roughly 4-minutes left on the clock. Kicker Jake Daugherty was called into action and rest is history -- Raiders win 24-21 in a hard fought battle.
Heading into this week against Cardinal Mooney, the Raiders will need to once again establish the running game and mix in more passing concepts to keep the game balanced.
Mooney is 4-3 this season, improving from their 1-9 campaign from a year ago. Coach Pelini has his team oozing confidence after their third straight win. Coach Carl Pelini enters his third season at the helm with a 7-18 record. There has been a revamp of the coaching staff, which has led to their recent success. Mooney's offensive coordinator is long-time valley coach Rick Shepas. With an offense averaging 25 points per game, an improvement from last year's average of 12.7, the Raiders defense will need to be up for the challenge this coming Friday night. Mooney also added former East head coach Brian Marrow to the staff as well.
Mooney Defensive Outlook:
Over the last three games, Cardinal Mooney has allowed ZERO points to be scored on them from the defensive side of the football. Lutheran East in week five was a 32-0 shutout, Youngstown East in week six was a 37-0 shutout, Brush in week 7 was a 38-7 victory where the special teams allowed the 7 points to get on the scoreboard with a kickoff return for a touchdown. Mooney's defense is playing confident, smart, and physical football.
Mooney mainly runs a 4-3 defensive front (3-4 at times as well) and over the last three games have played heavy man-to-man with their secondary. Their cornerbacks play press man and they expect their defensive line to stop the run and get to the opposing quarterback. If they disrupt the timing due to the press coverage, they know it will help them create turnovers on defense.
Look for Mooney to potentially switch their press man-to-man approach from their cornerbacks due to the Raiders' speed at all skill positions. I say potentially because the coaching staff may be looking at the amount of outside running plays that the Raiders run and think it will be beneficial to continue to stay in press. But it wouldn't be press man-to-man but rather a cover 2 flat type of press. Considering outside stretch has been a big play this season for Dalys Jett and even the running backs, if they continue to run on the perimeter, it may benefit Mooney to stay press but play cover 2 - that way the cornerbacks' eyes are not on the receivers and they can shed a tackle and make plays.
There is also a negative benefit of playing press man-to-man with a team that likes to establish the running game. The Raiders' wide receivers can just run off the cornerbacks whose eyes should be on the hip of the receiver. If they do that, Mooney's corners will be running all the way downfield, giving the Raiders less athletes on the edge, making it a successful run on the perimeter. Therefore, cover 2 may be a possibility this week for Mooney's secondary. Cornerbacks have flat area and their eyes are not on wide receivers so running them off does not occur.
Either way, Mooney has a veteran secondary, a stout defensive line, and linebackers who flow to the football. There is a reason they have produced a shutout in multiple games. It will be up for the Raiders' offense to spice things up this week and adjust to whatever Mooney decides to give them.
Mooney Offensive Outlook:
The offense is led by #5 junior quarterback Ashton O'Brien who last season threw for 726 yards. O'Brien is back in action and so far this season has eclipsed that yardage mark from last year. Senior wide receiver #1 Alec DelSignore, is not only an explosive athlete on the offensive side of the football, he plays a vital role on special teams as well. He has a punt return for a touchdown this season and at the midway point of the season (weeks 1-5) has 16 receptions for 306 yards and two touchdowns.
These statistics do not include the last two games, where DelSignore has continued his success. Last week against Brush, he caught a crossing route for a wide open 25-yard touchdown and a post route for another 25-yard touchdown. Preventing DelSignore from gaining chunk yardage and plays will be the goal of the Raiders' secondary heading into this matchup.
Another wide receiver to prevent from taking over the game is #10 senior Ty Reali who is 6'0" 160 lbs. Reali last season compiled 195 receiving yards and three touchdowns. So far this season, he has been what you call a combat catch wide receiver. This means that when the ball is thrown in tight coverage, he will come down with it. #10 is a veteran senior on offense and someone to watch for on Friday night.
Mooney's offensive line is extremely stout. They are stronger and larger than Boardman's from last week and have been playing bully ball the last three games, leading to their success in the win column. The offensive line includes: Michael Kaufman 5'11" 205 lbs, Adam Garloch 6-foot-3 300 lbs, Tino Merlo is 6-foot-4 280 lbs, just to name a few. It is imperative this week that the Raiders' defensive line can get to O'Brien. If this does not happen, he is elusive and a dual-threat quarterback who can make things happen when outside of the pocket.
Matchup to Watch: Raiders' secondary versus Mooney's WR's
As I just mentioned, Mooney's quarterback Ashton O'Brien is an elusive and a dual-threat athlete that can run and pass the football. It is extremely important for the defensive line to apply pressure and keep him from scrambling outside of the pocket. With that being said, the matchup to watch this week will be the Raiders' secondary (corners and safeties) versus Mooney's wide receivers.
Mooney has a plethora of wide receivers who can make explosive plays on offense. Preventing the two most impactful receivers in seniors DelSignore and Reali from taking over the game is essential for victory this Friday night. However, not only do the Raiders' secondary need to prevent these receivers from making routine catches, they also need to move within their zone or stay with their man when O'Brien moves outside of the pocket. If/ when O'Brien escapes and is on the move, he is looking down field to make a big splash play. It is imperative that the secondary if in man-to-man stays plastered on their man. If it is zone, then the secondary needs to move the zone as O'Brien is on the move.
If the Raiders' secondary can stay within their zone and or with their man, there is no reason for the receivers of Mooney to have a big night. This is the matchup to watch and will be the difference maker in the win/ loss column this week.
Mooney has big bodies on the offensive and defensive line, they have a quarterback who is a dual threat, receivers who are experienced and making big plays all season, and a defense that has over the last three games allowed zero points. *Brush shows 7 points but it was a kickoff return for a touchdown*. If the Raiders want to make the playoffs this season and continue on the winning track, stop the explosive plays that Mooney has had all season and the rest of the pieces will fall into place.
At a Glance:
Warren Harding Raiders
Head Coach: Steven Arnold
Record: 64-50 (Includes 2-5 this Season)
Years as HC: 11
Record Last Year: 5-6
Defense: 3-4, 4-3
Aug. 19 at Medina - Loss - 10-33
Aug. 26 vs Buchtel - Won - 14-7
Sept. 2 vs Hudson - Loss - 7-21
Sept. 9 at Massillon - Loss - 12-41
Sept. 16 vs Ursuline - Loss - 14-28
Sept. 23 at St. Vincent-St. Mary - Loss - 12-27
Sept. 30 at Boardman - Win - 24-21
Oct. 7 vs Mooney
Oct. 14 at Chaney
Oct. 21 at Fitch
Head Coach: Carl Pelini
Years as HC: 3
Record Last Year: 1-9
Defense: 4-3, 3-4, Multiple
Aug. 19 vs Boardman - Loss - 7-10
Aug. 27 vs Lake Catholic - Win - 31-14
Sept. 2 vs Chaney - Loss - 17-22
Sept. 10 at Linsly (WV) - Loss - 14-28
Sept. 17 at Lutheran East - Win - 32-0
*Sept. 23 at Youngstown East - Win - 37-0 -- *Update: This is a loss. Ineligible player from Mooney.
Sept. 30 vs Brush - Win - 38-7
Oct. 7 at Warren G. Harding
Oct. 15 vs Steubenville
Oct. 21 at Ursuline
Record: 3-4 *See the comment