CANTON, Ohio - In the feature matchup of the first day of the Herbstreit Classic in Canton on Saturday, Youngstown (Ohio) Cardinal Mooney defeated Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway in a battle with loads of talent on each side. Cardinal Mooney was led to victory by the running of quarterback Dan McCarthy and running backs Michael Zordich and Taylor Hill.
The biggest story of the game early was an injury to Penn State-bound running back Brandon Beachum. Beachum left the game early in the first quarter with a knee injury that wasn't considered serious. However, he was held out of the rest of the contest for precautionary reasons. The slack was picked up by Zordich and Hill in the backfield and the running of McCarthy keyed the win.
Zordich, who is headed to Penn State with Beachum but will play linebacker, is a load with the football. He had the highlight carry of the game on a long run in which he broke six different tackles. He was complimented well by Hill who will play linebacker at Oklahoma. Hill is a bit faster and shiftier as a back.
However, the star of the game for Mooney was McCarthy, who has committed to Notre Dame. McCarthy plays quarterback and safety in high school and his future lies on the defensive side of the ball in South Bend. However, he's a terrific dual-threat quarterback at the high school level. McCarthy had numerous nice runs, flashing his speed to the outside. On defense he was solid in coverage although he did get juked in the open field a few times. Both Zordich was Hill were very active on defense and were solid in coverage.
The player of the game for Gateway was clearly running back/athlete Cameron Saddler. His slashing style and quick burst kept Cardinal Mooney on its heels for parts of the game and he single-handedly led his team to its only score. Saddler is small but he's lightning quick and cuts on a dime. He left McCarthy and Zordich flat-footed on different occasions.
The highest-ranked player on the day was Gateway linebacker Shayne Hale. Hale was rumored to be doing more work as a down lineman but he spent most of this game playing linebacker, although he was off tackle at the line of scrimmage nearly every play. Hale showed glimpses of his tremendous potential but he wasn't consistent enough. He diagnoses running plays well and can shoot the gap quickly but he struggles when he has to chase things down.
Hale could play middle linebacker or defensive end in college but he needs to work on his lateral quickness. His motor is evident for the most part although he can tend to stand around when the play is run away from him. He's at his best when the play is coming right at him. He did appear hobbled during the second half of the game and was being cut quite often.
A few 2009 players impressed in the game, led by Gateway linebacker Dorien Bell. Bell made a few nice plays defensively, especially against the run, and he had a few tackles on special teams. He's adept at shedding blockers using his hands, but he also needs to get faster when chasing the football to the outside. His teammate, wide receiver/cornerback Corey Brown, didn't have a strong game. He was a non-factor in the passing game and got beat in single coverage by Mooney wide receiver Tim Marlowe for a touchdown. Marlowe, a senior, had a very strong game catching the long touchdown pass and picking off two passes.
2009 defensive tackle John Simon is an absolute beast physically and played well. He looks like a legit 265 pounds and is very strong. He needs to work on his burst of the football but he's a plugger who is strong at the line of scrimmage. He's going to be a monster with two years left of high school ball.
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