Newman, Rancho set for Halloween clash

From Press Democrat Staff Writer Eric Branch, who covered Friday night’s game between Montgomery and Cardinal Newman:

In his 29 seasons at Montgomery, Jason Franci has seen plenty of great teams around the Empire.

And he said after Cardinal Newman’s 42-14 win against Montgomery tonight that he thinks this year’s Cardinals belong in the conversation among the very best.

Newman can add to its reputation when it travels to Rancho Cotate on Halloween night in what figures to be the game of the year.

Rancho Cotate improved to 7-0 with a last-second 35-32 win at previously unbeaten Ukiah.

“It’s been in the back of our heads just thinking about it,” Newman running back Jeff Badger said. “But I’m sure a lot of us were thinking about Montgomery this week. Now that (we’re playing Rancho) we can’t hype up this game. We’ve got to take it as another football game.”

Newman improved to 7-0 after scoring 28-third quarter against Montgomery.

The Cardinals were limited to 99 yards in the first half. But they had 226 yards on 10 offensive plays ” in the third quarter.

Newman has outscored its four North Bay League opponents 194-14.

“They don’t have any weakness that I can see except maybe the punting game,” Franci said. “But they never punt. So maybe they do have a good one. They run the ball, they throw the ball, they play great defense, and they disguise their defense. They’ve got a great coach. They have it all.” . . .

Montgomery’s offense, which managed just 21 points in its first four games, has since shown signs of life.

The Vikings have scored 97 points in its last three games, a stretch that includes a 63-0 win against Elsie Allen.

Vikings junior quarterback Max Heller completed 15 of 23 passes for 170 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Heller also rushed for 48 yards on 12 carries.

“We’re not very good,” Franci said. “But we’re getting better. That’s all you can ask.” . . .

More Franci. His first comment to me after the game: “They are very good and we’re not very good. When you put those two teams on the field, that’s what happens.”