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Football's Best High School Fundraiser

Almost every high school football program has a booster club that raises funds to support their team on and off the field. One of the annual events to bolster the coffers is the obligatory summer golf outing to get people from around the community to donate and participate in the program.

This week I want to tell you a story about a different type of fund-raiser. This one certainly ranks as one of the more unique fund-raisers ever held by a high school football program, but one that certainly reflects the character of its community.

In the summer of 2008 defending state champions Cardinal Mooney High School in Youngstown, Ohio boasted multiple big-time college football recruits including rising seniors and juniors who would end up at Ohio State, Notre Dame, Penn State and Oklahoma. As impressive as that list was this storied program at that time boasted three head football coaches in the Power-5 conferences with Bob Stoops at Oklahoma, Mike Stoops at Arizona and Bo Pelini at Nebraska.

For Cardinal Mooney’s fund-raiser they opted for an all-day Bocce Tournament that raised tens of thousands of dollars and brought out an amazing array of people.

That summer the list of participants included Bob Stoops, Bo Pelini and Ohio State Head Coach Jim Tressel. The top 2 ESPN College Football analysts Kirk Herbstreit and Todd Blackledge were there as well. I was one of the assistant coaches who was invited along with Stanford’s DJ Durkin (Maryland’s current Head Coach) and Mark Stoops (Kentucky’s current Head Coach). The event also drew local politicians including US Congressman Tim Ryan.

The event was hosted at a family-run Italian place near the Youngstown State Campus called The MVR (The Mahoning Valley Restaurant). It is legendary in Youngstown lore for great homemade food and for their outdoor Bocce courts.