Youngstown Cardinal Mooney star Johnny Simon is what God had in mind when He created the defensive tackle position. Simon led his Mooney teammates to an easy 35-20 victory over previously undefeated Steubenville Saturday night by dominating the line of scrimmage. He talked about his team's performance in getting a big win.
"We were really fired up to play well tonight," Simon explained. "Steubenville is a great team and we know we would have to play well to win. They were a very tough opponent and we're happy to come out with the win and move on in the playoffs. I thought we played great tonight, especially in the first half. We can play better and we will need to be better to win it all. Our offensive line really played great tonight. They deserve a lot of credit. They totally dominated the Steubenville defensive front. Brandon Beachum ran well and Mike Zordich and Taylor Hill played great defensively. It was a total team effort."
Simon talked about the necessity for Mooney to put pressure on Steubenville sophomore quarterback Dwight Macon. Simon led the defensive charge that constantly harassed Macon.
"Macon is a good football player," he said. "Our plan was to keep him in the pocket and make him pass the football under stress. He is a great player and I have to give him a lot of credit. A lot of sophomores might have folded after having some problems turning the ball over, but he hung in there and made plays. He's going to be a good one."
Simon was hesitant to discuss his college plans, preferring to put all his efforts into leading Mooney to a repeat state championship, but he did touch on how recruiting is going for him.
"I've been to Ohio State, Notre Dame and Penn State for games this year," Simon stated. "All three were great places to visit and I'm very impressed with all three programs. I don't have a list of favorites or anything like that at all. I'm just thinking Mooney football and trying to win another state championship. I owe that to these seniors. After the season I will be doing a lot of thinking and I could be making a commitment at any time. I don't have a timetable to make a decision. I will most likely be committing before summer. I have an older sister at Ohio State and everybody thinks that means I'm going there too, but that won't play a part in my decision. I will do what's best for my future."
Simon admitted to being friends with Licking Valley's Storm Klein. Klein, also a junior, has issued a verbal commitment to play for Jim Tressel and the Ohio State Buckeyes.
"Storm is a great friend and a great player," Simon said. "He is really fired up that they're doing well in the playoffs. I talk with him pretty often and we'll probably talk tomorrow about how out games went this weekend. Storm and I got to be pretty good friends last summer at the Ohio State football camp."
For right now John Simon only wanted to speak about the goal he and his teammates set at the beginning of the season. That would be to win another state title for Cardinal Mooney.
"All I'm thinking about is becoming state champs again," he stressed. "That is the most important thing and the only thing on my mind. We are just taking this one game at a time. We are always talking about winning the championship and that's all we focus on. There is nothing individual about playing at Cardinal Mooney. It's all about hard work and dedication. We have the best coaching staff in the state and they always have us prepared."
Mooney head coach P.J. Fecko is understandably proud of his junior star.
"Johnny Simon is just an extraordinary player," Fecko explained. "He has explosive strength and explosive movement. He's a guy that can be very dominant on the defensive line. He plays with a great motor and he's driven to be the best. He is a tremendous competitor with a great will to win. Off the field he's a great student and one of the nicest kids you will ever meet. He's a classy kid and not someone who walks the halls at Mooney like he's someone special. He is just a great young man from a super family."