Diocesan high school gridiron season offered good news for 2023

50 yard line.
iStock | credit: Fruit_Cocktail

For 2023, there was much good news among the six diocesan high school football teams—with three advancing to the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) playoffs and a total of three schools with improved records.

Ursuline High School (Youngstown), Canton Central Catholic and Cardinal Mooney High School (Youngstown), will each play in the first round of their respective OHSAA regional playoffs at 7 p.m. October 27 at their respective home field.

Ursuline, 10-0, faces New Philadelphia, 6-4, in Youngstown State University’s (YSU) Stambaugh Stadium for the first round of the Division III Region 9 football playoffs. The Ursuline Fighting Irish are ranked first in Region 9 while New Philadelphia stands at ninth.

Central Catholic, 6-4, squares off against Middlefield Cardinal, 6-4, in Central’s Klinefelter Stadium for the first round of the Region 21 playoffs. Central’s Crusaders placed eighth in Region 22 while Cardinal was ranked right below Central at ninth.

Cardinal Mooney, 5-5, goes against Akron Buchtel, 5-5, at 7 p.m., Oct. 27 at Niles Mineral Ridge for the first round of the Division IV Region 13 playoffs. Ranked eighth in Region 22 of Division IV, the Mooney Cardinals will clash with Buchtel—ranked right below Mooney at ninth.

Despite some disappointments, most of the diocesan schools had something positive to report.

The Irish, 10-0, improved over their 2022 8-2 record, besting Austintown Fitch and Akron Vincent-St. Mary—the only schools to defeat Ursuline last year in two closely fought games. The Irish last season advanced to the Region 9 finals but lost to Canfield, the eventual Division III state champs, by a narrow margin. O2022.

Mooney, 5-5, saw improvement from their 4-6 regular season record of last year—having moved up to Division IV after having competed in Division V last year. The Cardinals in 2022 qualified for the state playoffs, winning in the Division V Region 17 first two rounds before losing to eventual Division V winner Canfield South Range.

Central Catholic, 6-4, held steady with a 6-4 mark for 2022, when they advanced to the second round of the Region 21 playoffs. The Crusaders lost by a narrow margin to Mogadore, a perennial power who lost in the final round to Division VI state champ Kirtland.

John F. Kennedy High School (Warren), having advanced to the Division VII playoff finals last season, had a rebuilding year with a new head coach and serious losses to graduation and transfers, accumulated a 2-7 record. The JFK Eagles narrowly missed a playoff slot after a loss by a razor slim 24-25 margin to Ravenna Southeast—a contender in the Division VI playoffs.

Saint John School (Ashtabula), with a 3-6 mark including two closely fought losses, showed improvement over their 2-7 record for 2022. The Saint John Heralds came close to advancing to the Division VII Region 25 playoff—finishing 20th in the region.

St. Thomas Aquinas High School (Louisville), also with a new coach and in a rebuilding year, had a winless season, but Aquinas boosters are hopeful for the future.

The combined record of the six diocesan teams for 2023—26-26—showed marginal improvement over their 26-28 mark for 2022.

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Pete Sheehan

Pete Sheehan

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