Newman, Bowman seek return to greatness

Cardinal Newman all-Empire linebacker Matt Bowman. (KENT PORTER / PD, 2010)


As the lone holdover from Cardinal Newman’s last great team, senior Matt Bowman understands his program’s proud tradition better than most.

And Bowman, who played as a sophomore on the Cardinals’ 2008 team that reached the state title game, is just the type to will his program back to the top.

After a 7-5 season that, by Newman’s standards, was disastrous, the Cardinals appear poised to return to form.

Newman, which went 37-5-1 from 2006-08, returns 15 starters from last year’s team. The old faces include eight from a stingy defense, including all-Empire linebacker Garrett Guanella and nose guard Courtland Palmer, who earned all-league recognition as a sophomore.

But the heartbeat of the unit is Bowman, an all-Empire middle linebacker who also gained 262 yards and averaged 6.4 yards a carry as a hard-charging running back.

“He’s a throwback,” Cardinal Newman coach Paul Cronin said. “He’s a Rocky Balboa kind of guy. He always looks like he’s kind of beat up.”

For the latter part of the 2009 season, Bowman was indeed battered. Due to a shoulder injury that required arthroscopic surgery in the offseason, Bowman played with a shoulder harness during Newman’s two playoff games. Cronin says Bowman didn’t discuss his injury. And he didn’t miss a practice.

Bowman says part of his gritty attitude comes from playing with his older brother, Tyler, on Newman’s 2008 team that went 13-1.

“It definitely made me a better player,” Bowman said. “Playing with all those great players, I saw the tempo they played with in practice and how hard they worked. I try to set that same type of example.”

Such an example will be vital this season. Cronin takes responsibility for Newman’s first five-loss season since 1998, which he believes was partly attributable to a relaxed work ethic.

Cronin says he and his coaching staff didn’t work as hard, and it carried down to the players.

“That’s something our great teams did a great job of — our effort was phenomenal,” Cronin said. “That’s our big thing. We’re going to be as hard-working a group as we can possibly be.”

Not surprisingly, Bowman is on board.

“We had a lot of fun last year, but we didn’t hold ourselves to the same high standards,” he said. “We’re getting back to that this year.”


Coach: Paul Cronin, (8th season, 71-17-1 record)
2009 record: 7-5, 6-1 NBL (2nd)
2009 JV record: 9-1
Returning starters: OFFENSE (7): WR Brian Albin, Sr.; LG Christian Alvarez, Sr.; RB Matt Bowman, Sr.; RT Austin Hegg, WR Tim Moreno, Sr.; WR Chris Quock, Sr.; QB Matt Sullivan, Jr. DEFENSE (8): CB Brian Albin, Sr.; SS Lucas Bertoli, Sr.; MLB Matt Bowman, Sr.; OLB Garrett Guanella, Sr.; DE Ryan McCandless, Sr.; CB Tim Moreno, Sr.; NG Courtland Palmer, Jr.; S Chris Quock, Sr.
Players to watch: OLB Garrett Guanella: Athletic 6-5 senior earned second-team All-Empire honors last year. QB Matt Sullivan: Junior will take the reigns of offense which figures to feature plenty of the forward pass.
Newcomer to watch: FB/DL Phil Wright: Made his varsity debut as a freshman last year, playing in two playoff games on defense.

Date – Opponent – Time

9-4 – vs. Central Catholic at Loomis – 2 p.m.
9-17 – vs. Valley Christian – 7 p.m.
9-25 – vs. Palma – 7 p.m.
10-1 – at Maria Carrillo – 7:30 p.m.
10-8 – at Elsie Allen – 7:30 p.m.
10-15 – vs. Ukiah – 7 p.m.
10-22 – at Montgomery – 7:30 p.m.
10-29 – at Rancho Cotate – 7:30 p.m.
11-5 – vs. Piner – 7:30 p.m.
11-12 – vs. Santa Rosa – 7 p.m.

Postseason winning percentage since 2006 (14-2).
6: Games in which defense limited opponents to fewer than 15 points last year.
11: Prior to 2009, years since last five-loss season.