Hitting close to home: Poland-Mooney playoff game features close family ties

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – A total of 18 Valley football teams are playoff bound this year, and perhaps the most interesting match-up is Poland and Cardinal Mooney.

The two teams feature three different sets of cousins, that will be competing against each other in Week 11 this Friday.

“My cousin, Vinny Gentile is number 54, so I have been following them all year long,” said Nick Sabrin, Poland senior lineman. “It’s hard on my family, they are hoping we don’t play. I have always wanted to play, the last time we played was in 6th grade.”

“I think it is really fun. it is going to be a great time,” said Gentile, a senior lineman for the Cardinals. “I know [Nick] is going to be pulling, trying to kick me out a few times, should be a few laughs in there.”

Gentile and Sabrin are first cousins, and just this past Sunday, spent the day together for their grandfather’s birthday. That was just hours after they found out they would be going head-to-head in the first round of the playoffs.

“The families have talked about it,” said Ryan Williams, Poland head coach. “Spaghetti dinner at grandma’s on Sunday was a little uncomfortable.”

“Are we talking to each other? Yeah, we will talk to each other today, it isn’t game time yet,” said Sabrin. “The grandparents are struggling a bit, but I think it will be alright. They said, win or lose we love you, and I said yeah we know, we love you too.”

“I think some of the family members were trying to jaw at it, trying to get something out of each of us,” said Gentile. “But I think both of us are just focused on the game this Friday.”

Vinny’s brother Louie will also be competing against hit cousin Nick. The other two cousin match-ups are Mooney’s Julian Diaz going up against Mike Diaz from Poland.
Mooney QB Antonio Page will also line up against his Bulldog cousin, Eric Shipsky. The Friday match up will be just the second all-time between the two schools. Sabrin says football runs deep in the family, and he is proud to add another fun chapter this week.

“We are a football family,” said Sabrin. “Always doing something on Friday nights, going to games on Saturdays and watching on Sundays at my grandmas. It is nice to play the game that has been passed down from generation to generation.”

Sabrin had a few final words for his cousin.

“I love you right now man,” he said. “But come Friday night, it’s game time.”