A look at the 2010 Cardinal Mooney football team, coached by Josh Smithers.
NEEDS A BIG SEASON FROM: Alex Nugent, sr., QB
Nugent is the third quarterback in three years for the Cougars. That’s because last year’s starter, Grant Flessner, transferred out.
It’s a tall order for any team to combat, but head coach Josh Smithers said he likes what he sees from Nugent so far.
“His ability to listen and want to get better,” Smithers said about the strides Nugent has made. “He wants to get better and he has a tremendous work ethic. Even when we’re not around, he’s throwing with the receivers. He’s a leader and everyone on this team rallies around Alex.”
Smithers said Nugent had 17 or 18 days to jump into the quarterback role before Cardinal Mooney’s spring game.
And while the Cougars were trounced 52-3 by Southeast, Smithers and Nugent took positives away from that game.
Namely, lengthy drives that put Mooney in prime position to put points on the scoreboard before turnovers ruined those chances.
Nugent recovered from a torn ACL that cancelled his sophomore season to play defensive back last year.
The speed needed to excel at that position has transferred to his role on offense, where Nugent is a mobile quarterback who can pass and run.
Those options suit Smithers just fine.
“Having a guy at quarterback in this offense like him that can run and can throw and is a great leader,” Smithers said. “I think you’ll see a little different offense than what we’ve had.”
FILLING THE VOID: Ceasar Yaluk, sr. WR Danny Lee, so., WR/DB
The wide receiver corps is a bit new and fresh and Smithers is looking to Yaluk and Lee to step up.
Smithers said Yaluk was a backup last year, but is athletic with good hands.
And Lee is going to be the slot receiver.
“Danny Lee is going to be a big part of our offense ... we motion him and try to get him the ball,” Smithers said.
DEEP AT: OL.
It’s a tight unit despite the losses of Mark Smith and Grayson Weber to college football. Junior Jack Leibold is experienced, having started the last four or five games, Smithers said. Add in Mark Nordhausen, Nick Deering and Peter Lange and this group are seasoned upperclassmen. Plus Mike Howard can fill in from his usual defensive line spot, if anyone gets injured.
THIN AT: Numbers.
Mooney has 30 players on the rosters, meaning any little injury has the potential to cause major problems and holes to fill for Smithers and his staff.
IMPACT NEWCOMER: Anthony Caiazzo, Caiazzo, so., RB/DB
He’s is a speedster in the backfield and was brought up from the junior varsity ranks toward the end of last year to get some carries. This year, he’ll spell Jake Falter at tailback.
“He’s the fastest guy on our team,” Smithers said. “He has the ability to make you miss and outrun you. He’s a tiny little guy, so in our zone schemes, he should be tough to tackle.”
COACH QUANDARY: The skill positions. Due to playing guys on both sides of the ball, conditioning will factor into Mooney’s success. And that’s no more apparent than at the wide receiver and defensive back positions, which are pretty taxing. “We’ve got to get those guys to tackle on defense when they’re tired,” Smithers said. “And vice/versa, go out there and catch balls after playing a defensive series.”
CAMP STOCK: UP: The group is vocal and competitive — ready to improve on last year’s inconsistent season.
It doesn’t even matter if it’s the simple things in camp like running sprints, the 2010 Cardinal Mooney football team is competitive.
“We’ll have a guy going, ‘Nobody can beat me,’” Smithers said.
DOWN: It’s a numbers game and the limited guys on the roster leaves little wiggle room to maneuver players around.
KEY GAME: Sept. 24 vs. Avon Park
It’s the first district game and in a four-team league, every win is of the upmost importance. Last season, Mooney started 2-1 before a trip to Avon Park started a downward spiral. The Cougars had a long drive stopped with a turnover late against Avon Park, which ultimately ended up costing them. “And after that, we lost another one and it kind of snowballed,” Smithers said.
Sept. 3 at LaBelle
Sept. 10 at Out-of-Door Academy
Sept. 17 at Bayshore
Sept. 24 AVON PARK
Oct. 1 FORT MYERS BISHOP VEROT
Oct. 8 at Lake Highland Prep
Oct. 22 at Tampa Catholic
Oct. 29 CLEARWATER CC
Nov. 5 MULBERRY
Nov. 12 at Saint Stephen’s
LABELLE W, 39-12
ODA W, 30-8
BAYSHORE L, 23-12
at Avon Park L, 25-13
at Fort Myers Bishop Verot L, 31-14
LAKE HIGHLAND PREP L, 41-6
TAMPA CATHOLIC L, 42-3
at Clearwater Central Catholic L, 26-25
at Mulberry L, 20-17
SAINT STEPHEN’S W, 35-28
BY THE NUMBERS
2006 — the last time Cardinal Mooney won a playoff game.
90 — the points the Cougars scored in their seven losses last season.
0 — regular season games at quarterback for Nugent.
ON THE WEB: www.bradenton.com/cardinalmooney
HEAD COACH: Josh Smithers, fourth season, 14-17 record.