As the Eagles strive for a three-peat Division I State Championship title, Quarterback Casey Bullock '24 shares his record-breaking team's philosophy.
Intro by Paul Mocho '85, Vice President of Institutional Advancement
Paul Mocho '85 today and in 1984 (#49) suited up for a big game
I was never one who aspired for the corner office, but I wouldn’t trade my view for the world! As a former defensive end for the Eagles, now blessed to perch high above the Br. James Everett, C.S.C. Stadium—no better backdrop for fundraising work exists. The character and determination I see on that gridiron serve as a daily reminder of why I’m here and why St. Edward High School matters so much.
On any given afternoon, I watch coaches, athletes, and even pee-wee players from camps and CYO teams, pushing themselves to be the best they can be. Witnessing such passion and commitment, I often find myself swept away by a wave of nostalgia—reminiscing on my own time in the game and the unmatched camaraderie football fosters. In fact, my teammates from the class of 1985 still gather to discuss the epic plays and tough opponents we faced—as if we walked off the field just yesterday!
Eagle football is a unique blend of physicality, resilience, and brotherhood. It creates connections that last a lifetime.
Case in point, at every game you'll find boisterous alumni loyally supporting their Eagles. Among them, cheering, laughing, and swapping stories, are members of the 1986 state runner-up team. While they’ll forever rehash the details of the title that got away, they now watch from the stands and revel merrily in every shrill whistle, nail-biting close call, and exhilarating point scored. What sets them apart from the rest of the rambunctious crowd? Their unwavering support combined with the fact that several of them now proudly root for their sons out on the field.
This year’s team stands on the precipice of making history, aiming for Eagle football’s first three-peat state championship. What was once an elusive title has now become an expectation, as the Eagles have hoisted the Division I trophy six times in the last 13 years.
Eagle football is a unique blend of physicality, resilience, and brotherhood. It creates connections that last a lifetime.
We old-timers take immense pride in having built the foundation of the formidable program St. Edward football has become. No one comprehends this better than Head Coach Tom Lombardo, who regularly invites former players to address the team.
When All-Ohio Linebacker Paul Girgash ’79 stopped by earlier this year, Lombardo stopped the team’s film session to introduce him and discuss his remarkable achievements at the University of Michigan and the NFL. This fall, on the eve of the annual Eagles/Wildcats face-off, Ohio State University Lineman and Super Bowl Champion Rodney Bailey ’97 delivered an inspiring speech to the team. He emphasized the unique opportunity ahead and encouraged them to savor every moment in the green and gold.
St. Edward President KC McKenna ’00 encapsulated the essence of this successful team by stating, “When the best players on the field happen to be some of the best kids in your school, success naturally follows.” I couldn’t agree more.
Committed to their studies as much as they are to training, the team’s average GPA is a whopping 3.6. And if that doesn’t tell you enough about the caliber of these scholar-athletes, allow me to share more:
- Devontae and Deontae Armstrong ’24 on the sideline during a game at First Federal Lakewood Stadium
Ben Roebuck '24 (#76) celebrates after a win against Saint Ignatius
Troy Regovich '24 blocks a pass against Cincinnati Elder
Identical twins and OSU commits Devontae and Deontae Armstrong ’24 volunteered to sell raffle tickets at our last Wings auction. They sold out in minutes and graciously interacted with everyone who sought a photo. Their friendliness left a lasting impression, as attested by Susan and Mike Carlin '66 who called them “the nicest guys we ever met.”
UM commit Ben Roebuck ’24 has been actively involved in open house events, offering tours to prospective families and expressing his love for the school. “I really enjoy sharing my experience with younger guys and encouraging them to become Edsmen,” said Roebuck.
Defensive Lineman Troy Regovich ’24 volunteers with the Miracle League of Lake County. This past summer he rallied 25 of his teammates to spend the day playing softball with a group of children who have special needs. The experience was a home run for all involved—both the kids and the Eagles had a blast.
I could go on and on about these incredible young men. Each of them reflects a relentless pursuit of excellence both on and off the field. They inspire us all to be and do our best.
This year's team stands on the precipice of making history, aiming for Eagle football's first three-peat state championship.
What was once an elusive title has now become an expectation, as the Eagles have hoisted the Division I trophy six times in the last 13 years.
Q&A WITH THE QB
Anyone paying attention to Eagle football knows Quarterback Casey Bullock ’24 has a golden arm. What you might not guess is that even with a rigorous training schedule, Bullock, who has verbally committed to play for Davidson College next year, is both a straight-A student and the senior class president. We caught up with him to learn more about his impressive team.
The Eagles have a real shot at securing the school’s first-ever three-peat state championship football title. More than ever, the entire community is rooting for you. Does the team feel the love?
Casey: Oh, absolutely. It means so much to us all. Seeing the student section decked out and going crazy, the families who come to cheer, the marching band, the rallies—it really puts into perspective how strong our community is and how the whole school really backs us up. We talk so much about the importance of relationships at St. Ed’s and all of these fans coming out to watch us just emphasizes those bonds.
We always have a good amount of alumni at the games, too. It says a lot about our school that these guys still show up to wish us luck. I plan to do that one day, as well.
The excitement is palpable this year. How does the team stay focused?
Casey: The school's never won three in a row, so we can’t help but be super pumped. At the same time, we try to block that out and go day-by-day, week-by-week. If we get too caught up in the idea of taking the championship, we might lose this week’s game. So, we stay in the moment. It’s actually not that hard to do when we’re out on the field because all the cheering, and even the loudspeaker, sort of becomes white noise.
Here’s a funny story for you. During the 2021 championship game, there was still time on the clock, but we ran a play that secured our victory. The whole crowd went crazy. I was on the sidelines and we were all just whooping it up. One of our players, who was out on the field, was so focused he didn’t realize we had just taken states.
Someone said to him, “We did it! We won!” and he was like, “What do you mean?!?” He was completely shocked. I thought that was really funny. He was out there just playing as hard as he could—it just goes to show how laser-focused we are on the field.
Watching the team play, it's obvious how hard you all work to compete at this level. How do you stay motivated?
Casey: I mean, there are definitely times when we all wish we could just go home after school and rest. I get really tired with lifts, film practice, homework, and everything else. But when you sit back and think about the opportunity we have before us, it’s really an honor and we have to take advantage of it.
So, even though we’re doing really well, we keep pushing. We're a great team right now, but we're nowhere close to what we can be.
In practice, we often pit offense against defense, just like in a real game. I’ve said it before, but it’s true—the defense I went up against at practice last season was tougher than any defense I faced in an actual game. That set the entire offensive line up for success and we try to do the same for our defenders.
It also helps that we’re extremely competitive with each other. In the weight room, we go back and forth and push each other. I think a lot of other teams take it easy in practice, but not us. At the end of the day, we’re motivated by simply wanting to show up for our teammates.
It sounds like the team's bond is very strong. How do players build those close relationships?
Casey: We train all year, so we naturally get close because we spend so much time together. Varsity players build relationships with the freshman team and the guys on JV by helping out at their practices. Last summer, Varsity practiced in the morning and the other teams in the afternoon. Lots of guys stayed late—we'd just hang out and coach 'em up.
That’s one of my favorite things about football; everyone makes the team—there are no cuts. So, a lot of players might be backups during their freshman year, and then over four years time, they work hard and climb their way up the ladder. That's pretty special, there are not a lot of sports that give players that chance.
Other than relationships, what other Holy Cross values are carried out by your team?
Casey: We are definitely a team that puts faith at the forefront. We come together to celebrate Mass before every single game. I think it helps us to center ourselves and put the game into perspective. We try to focus on the fact that win or lose, our relationship with God is what’s most important.
We pray to stay healthy; we pray to unite as a team; we pray to be our best for each other because that’s what God would want us to do.
Many aspects of our faith go hand-in-hand with football, like selflessness—it's all about the team.
Also, we live Holy Cross hospitality. This year, we had a transfer student join our team. Loghan Thomas ’24 and his family relocated from Texas. Before he even got here, 50 different guys were messaging him on Instagram and welcoming him. I can’t imagine moving across the country senior year, but he was embraced with open arms. Now, it’s like he’s always been an Eagle.
St. Edward athletics are rooted in tradition. Storming the field with flags and singing the Alma Mater are decades-old football traditions. Does the team have any unofficial traditions?
Casey: We have a snack break before our games and most players have something they always eat. For me, it’s a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and a granola bar. That’s pretty normal, I guess. But these guys eat some weird stuff. A few of them take shots of pickle juice. I just can’t do it.
Some of us do other things for luck, too. I wear the same underwear, girdle, and undershirt for every game. And I always wear several rubber wristbands. I can’t put them on my wrists during a game, so I put them on my ankle and cover them up with a sock. I rotate the designs, but I always wear the exact same number of bands.
One of those wristbands is for Brycen Gray ’22, who passed away in 2021. There were a lot of guys on the team who had grown up with Brycen and were his really close friends. When he died, the team came together to support them and when we won the state championship that year, we won it for Brycen.
Is there someone on the team who all the players look up to?
Casey: To be honest, probably Coach Lombardo. We all look up to him. He's already had great success in his career. So much so that it would be easy for him to be satisfied and think he's accomplished enough. But instead, he's always watching film—studying the game footage—literally for hours and hours every day.
The man is one of the most successful high school football coaches in the country, and he still wants to become a better coach. This shows us that we, too, should always strive to improve. On top of that, he’s just a solid role model because he places such importance on service, faith, and family.
How do Coach Lombardo, and the rest of the coaching staff, encourage Edsmen off the field?
Casey: The coaches tell us all the time that football is just football. They place much more importance on being a good student. That’s actually why I chose to attend St. Ed’s. When I toured other schools as an eighth grader, all they could talk about was sports. At Ed’s, they described brotherhood, servant leadership, and academics. That really appealed to me. I’m thankful that I made the choice I did because Edsmen are held to a high standard academically, personally, and in every other aspect of life.
You've personally dealt with some injuries this year. How did you help your backup prepare to fill in for such critical games?
Casey: When I was coming up, quarterback Christian Ramos ’22 did a lot to prepare me to start. It made a huge difference in my performance, so I did the same for Thomas Csanyi ’25 when he filled in. The week before his big game, we spent a night at my house watching film for hours. We also FaceTimed a bunch to go over everything. It worked because, even though we didn’t win against Massillon, Thomas played a great game! He showed everyone he’s got what it takes.
What advice do you have for freshmen or new students?
Casey: My advice isn’t football-related. I'd tell them to get as involved as possible on campus. Join all the clubs and all the activities—you’ll make great friends and it makes school so much fun. Coming to Ed’s, I didn't know anyone. Now I’m so grateful for the people I’ve met—classmates who are basically family now. We're all going to go off to different colleges, but we'll stay best friends. Being an Eagle isn’t just four years, it’s for life.
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER
Pat Gallagher ’75 is a proud Edsman who studied photography at Cooper School of Art. A retired fire captain for the City of Cleveland, he now sets Eagle athletics ablaze with his dynamic visuals! See the players through Pat’s lens on Instagram: @captains_images
Originally published in Gratitude: 2022-2023 Report on Giving