Newman is for real

No, I didn’t graduate from Cardinal Newman and I’m not on their payroll. They just happen to have a very good football team and I happened to report their 40-0 win over Santa Rosa Friday night.

Why is Newman good? They have standout running backs in Jeff Badger and Joe Ferguson, a mobile and accurate QB in Randy Wright, a fine stable of receivers led by Wade Amaral and Casey Miller (on Friday) and a very underrated defense, led by about everybody.

Granted, Santa Rosa is pretty banged up and doesn’t have a true QB, but they almost beat Ukiah last week with the same cast. So that makes Newman’s 40-0 win even more impressive.

Is this Newman team as good as its state team in ’06? It sure looks like it.

Dennis Bruno, the longtime defensive coordinator at Newman, loves his defensive unit. He loves its speed and smartness. They make their own checks and play very well together. Ferguson is back as a fulltime linebacker and just makes the linebackers corps that much better. The secondary is active and physical and the line bothered Santa Rosa’s single wing with the exception of a couple of running plays.

The game was essentially over at halftime as Newman totaled 402 yards in offense in the first half, 187 on the ground and 215 via Kyle Wright’s arm. Wright and Amaral have hooked up for three TDs in each of the last three games.

Those three preseason games against Central Catholic, Del Oro and Palma have just made Newman better for the league season.

A lot of coaches I talk to also compliment Newman’s coaching staff as one of the best around. I second that.

If you like high school football, go watch a Newman game. They’re that good.

It was also a pleasure, as usual dealing with Santa Rosa coach Russell Ponce. I think he’s one of the best young coaches around. He blamed himself and his staff for not being better prepared for Newman, but there’s only so much you can do with no QB and a single wing offense. Russell is not a Newman hater. In fact, he said he’s rooting them to go to state. He likes the way Newman plays and says they don’t run up scores. In his words, Newman is a blue collar team that plays hard.