Thoughts on Casa-Ukiah, Newman-Central Catholic

Posted by Staff Writer Eric Branch:
This and that after watching Casa Grande-Ukiah on Friday and Cardinal Newman-Central Catholic on Saturday:
* I wouldn’t want to try tackling Casa Grande running back Kahlil Keys. On his first carry, he plowed into a Ukiah defender and sent him to Sonoma (OK, actually just a few yards backward). Keys’ biceps are roughly as big as my 2-year-old daughter.
* At 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, Casa Grande quarterback Nick Sherry looks like a Division I quarterback. And he tossed several Division-I passes in his debut. He also made a few ill-advised throws and held on to the ball too long at times. That said, he’s going to be fun to watch the next two years.
* Ukiah, which returns three starters and has a first-year coach in Jeff Schueller, was better than I expected. It’s only one game, but the Wildcats looked pretty physical in their 30-7 loss. Casa Grande, with Keys and Sherry, might not score less than 31 points too often this season.
* The sky isn’t falling at Cardinal Newman, but the Cardinals aren’t the same team that went 13-0 before losing in the state-title game last year. No surprise. That can’t happen every year. Newman had two fantastic high school running backs last year in Jeff Badger and Joe Ferguson. Against Central Catholic, its running game consisted of quarterback Jack James (22 carries, 52 yards). James had 22 of the Cardinals’ 28 rushing attempts.
* The best hit I saw was from Cardinal Newman’s Steven Stout, who flattened Central Catholic’s Billy Flamion on a punt return. Flamion caught a short punt on a full sprint and was met by Stout, also on a full sprint, as he caught the ball. Flamion stayed writhing on the ground for a few minutes and it looked like he might lose his dinner — similar to Cal’s Jahvid Best against Maryland last year — once he slowly got to his feet. Thankfully, he didn’t. And he got back in the game a few plays later.