From Coach Peebles: Memories of Mario

Junior was both tough and smart, respected by teammates

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Photo submitted

Head Coach Mr. Blll Peebles '88 provided his memories of junior Mario McCullough (2), playing defense against Decatur Central in the Sectional.

Mr. Bill Peebles '88, Head Football Coach

Editor’s note: After the tragic and untimely passing of junior Da’Mario Montel McCullough last month, the Megaphone staff reached out to football Head Coach Mr. Bill Peebles ‘88 and asked him to share his memories of Mario. His article follows.

 In early June of 2018, I was just getting a feel for the type of football team we would have for the 2018 football season. It was my first year back at Cathedral and I was evaluating everything in the program. 

It did not take long to figure out we had an undersized sophomore named Mario McCullough who could flat out play. He played defensive back and was impressing the coaching staff on a daily basis.

 Mario ended up starting at cornerback early in the season. He was the only sophomore in 2018 who started at the varsity level. He was instrumental in our victory against St. Xavier in overtime on Cathedral’s 100th birthday celebration. He had an interception with a 60-yard return and consistently prevented the Bombers from completing any bombs.

 He solidified himself as a very good young player with great potential, and he was a starter from that day forward.

 The football team had a leadership Zoom meeting the week before Easter. We spent part of that meeting finally able to talk about what happened to Mario and how we were dealing with it. We asked our players to tell us words that described Mario. Words like “leader,” “loyal,” “driven,” hard working,” “committed,” “honest” and “friend” were repeatedly expressed. Mario was a great teammate and leader. Our players and coaches respected and loved him. 

 As his coach, two words keep coming to my mind when I think about Mario McCullough the football player. They are “tough” and “smart.”

 He was a tough kid. Despite his size, he was one of the best tacklers on the team. He wasn’t afraid to stick his nose in there and mix it up with anyone on the field. Throughout the season, he was consistently put in situations where he would have to take on the opposing team’s best running back or receiver one on one. He never backed down and he won that battle most of the time. 

 His intelligence stood out as well. (Assistant) Coach (Mr. Adam) Barth consistently pointed out that he could always trust Mario to make the defensive calls and checks. Not all players have that ability. You have to recognize, react, adjust and then communicate in a very short amount of time. He was a young man who we could count on to handle that. 

 Off the field, I believe our players were spot on in their assessment of Mario. The two words that were most often expressed were “leader” and “loyal.” When looking for the ideal football player, what coach wouldn’t want a player who was a great leader, who was tough, smart, loyal, and had great talent?

 From a coach’s perspective, Mario was the ideal player. He was an old school throwback Cathedral football player. He was also a leader in the school. The young men in the program looked up to him. As tough as he was on the field, he was cool and laid back off it.

 We will miss him and his positive impact, both on and off the field.