Newman's defense doesn't rest

This post is from Press Democrat Staff Writer Eric Branch:

Due to its high-powered offense, Cardinal Newman’s defense is often overlooked.

But not in Friday night’s 42-7 romp over Rancho Cotate.

The Cardinals came up with two defensive touchdowns – an interception return from Jeff Badger and a fumble return from Blake Ratto – and Casey Miller had an interception deep in Rancho territory to set up another touchdown.

The Cougars, who entered averaging 37.7 points per game, were limited to 149 rushing yards, 129 below their average. And it could have been worse if not for Brian Dworkin’s 46-yard scamper in the final minute against Newman’s reserves.

It was an impressive performance, but Newman defensive coordinator Dennis Bruno, in his 19th year, made it sound simple.

“Our kids knew their assignments,” he said. “And they carried out their assignments.”

But even when the Cardinals didn’t know their assignments, it didn’t matter.

On Newman’s goal-line stand to end the first half – Rancho quarterback Cody Allen was stuffed on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line just seconds before halftime – lineman Jacob Gowan confessed to being somewhat clueless.

“A few of us were a little confused,” Gowan said. “I think we ran the wrong assignment. I’m not sure what the call was honestly.”

The goal-line stand caused a huge momentum shift as the Cardinals took a 21-7 lead into halftime.

Late in the third quarter, another huge defensive play ended the game, in effect, when Badger picked off a screen pass and returned it for a touchdown for a 35-7 lead.

Bruno said he was surprised by the lopsided score. After talking with head coach Paul Cronin this week, he was braced for a nail-biter.

“We were talking about it being a touchdown game,” Bruno said. “Paul and I do this every week. I’ll say ‘How many points are you going to score?’ and he’ll say ‘How many are you going to give up?’ We were looking at something like a 28-21 game.”