Defense rules in Montgomery-Casa clash

From Press Democrat Staff Writer Eric Branch:

Well, after a 0-0 tie, perhaps it’s obviously appropriate to begin by discussing the defenses.

With an extra week to prepare after its 13-7 loss to lightly regarded Lincoln, Montgomery looked downright nasty.

Casa Grande had entered averaging 36.5 points and 395 yards in its first two games, but the Gauchos only managed 102 yards. Casa did manage 12 first downs, but four were a result of Montgomery penalties.

On the other side, the Gauchos, who only allowed 9.5 points in their first two games, delivered what Casa defensive coordinator Trent Herzog termed one of their best performances in years.

Montgomery tailback James Berthinier had 161 yards on 23 carries, but the rest of the Vikings managed four yards on 10 carries.

Whoever plays Casa or Montgomery this season should prepare to be sore on Saturday.

Berthinier might be one of the better backs in the Empire. He runs patiently behind his blocks and has a great burst when he sees an opening. In a game without very few big plays, Berthinier had runs of 23, 33, 22, 12 and 11 yards.

Casa Grande placekicker/punter Conner Derby has a huge right leg. His only kickoff sailed at least five yards into the end zone – 65 yards on the fly. Most teams would find a spot for Derby on the offensive or defensive line. He’s 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds.

Casa Grande wide receiver/cornerback Matt Nadolski was probably the best athlete on the field. The 6-2, 190-pound senior had a quiet game (3 catches, 16 yards) after grabbing 7 catches for 141 yards and three scores in the Gauchos’ first two games. On the sideline, a Casa Grande assistant baseball coach told me Nadolski can also throw a baseball 94 miles per hour. I’m no judge of talent, but I assume some college, on some level, wouldn’t mind having Nadolski play wide receiver.