For the first time since 1972, the Cardinal Mooney High football team has captured a state title.
The Cougars (12-2) got a 39-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Michael Valentino to junior wide receiver/defensive back Chris McCorkle with less than a minute remaining to secure a 31-27 win over Trinity Catholic (6-8) in the Florida High School Athletic Association Class 1S state championship game, held Dec. 8 at Bragg Memorial Stadium in Tallahassee.
Mooney quarterbacks Valentino and Devin Mignery, a sophomore, combined to throw for 312 yards and three touchdowns — two to McCorkle and one to senior Teddy Foster. Senior running back Carson Beach had 19 carries for 63 yards and a touchdown.
Seniors Zeshon Casimir (13) and George Leibold (8) led the team in tackles. McCorkle added an interception on Trinity Catholic's Hail Mary attempt on the final play of the game.
"So proud of this team!" Leibold posted after the game. "I love this team so much!"
"People like to pat me on the back, but I have little to do with it," Head Coach Jared Clark said in a TV interview with Bally Sports after the game. "It is these young men and this coaching staff. These guys are amazing. Amazing people."
Ryan Kohn is the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. He was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. His biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. His strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.