Humbling setback for Cardinals

By PHIL BARBER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Cardinal Newman coach Paul Cronin probably couldn’t have told you exactly how many rushing yards Valley Christian of San Jose had Friday night at Ed Lloyd Field, or how many times his quarterback, Matt Sullivan, was sacked. But Cronin had little trouble adding up the number of potential Division I college players on the Warriors’ roster.

Cardinal Newman quarterback Matt Sullivan was under constant pressure from the Valley Christian defense Friday. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat) 2010

“I mean, 77 (lineman Justin Satele) is a major-division college player,” Cronin said, ticking off the list. “Thirty-two (middle linebacker Jaamal Rose) is a Division I college player … 10 (running back Byron Marshall) is an NFL player … 3 (running back Darele Jones) is a guy that’s probably a I-AA guy … (Brian Fobbs) is a guy who could play college football at receiver … and then they got some Division II guys.”

That staggering wealth of talent added up to too much for the Cardinals, who fell 34-0 to the team generally ranked second behind De La Salle among all Northern California high school powers.

Cardinal Newman wasn’t out of it from the start, however.

With a little more than three minutes gone in the second quarter, the Cardinals were down 7-0 but driving. After picking up a couple of first downs, they faced third-and-8 from the Valley Christian 45-yard line when Sullivan, misreading a route by one of his receivers, threw the ball right to Warriors linebacker Jarrod Lawson over the middle.

Lawson took off 65 yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead.

Newman ventured into Valley Christian territory all three times it had the ball in the first half, but came away with no points. Besides the interception, Adrian Rubio — one of the heroes of a double-overtime victory against Central Catholic of Modesto two weeks earlier — missed field goals of 39 and 36 yards.

“That’s where I think our youth kind of came through,” Cronin said. “You’ve gotta take advantage of our first half. Anytime you walk into the locker room down 14-7 or 14-10, you really give yourself an opportunity to be at a different tempo in the second half, because you don’t have to press too hard.”

As it was, Valley Christian controlled the pace after halftime. The visitors drove 60 yards and scored on Jerrick Morales’ four-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, and added another at the 8:22 mark of the fourth when Marshall, a scary combination of speed and power packed on a 5-foot-10, 195-pound frame, got around the right end and sped 43 yards to the end zone.

Valley Christian’s final touchdown came on Morales’ two-yard run on fourth-and-goal, after a snap had sailed over the head of Cardinal Newman punter Ryan McCandless.

“We’re proud of our kids,” Cronin said. “They showed some heart against a strong opponent — but we’re a better team than we showed.”

Marshall, who scored 25 touchdowns as a sophomore last year, led the way with 16 carries for 149 yards, part of a rushing attack that netted 317 yards for the Warriors.

Valley Christian quarterback Zach Vaiana, on the other hand, was infrequently hurried. He completed just three passes all night, and all of them were to Fobbs, who had 64 yards and a 33-yard touchdown that started the scoring.

Really, it was the Warriors’ defense that tilted the balance. Sullivan, who completed 9 of 16 passes for 150 yards, rarely had adequate time to throw. He was sacked six times, with Rose and defensive end Brian Houp leading the way, and often barely got the ball away even on quick flares and screens.

Newman ran for only 44 yards on 18 carries, with just seven for a single yard after halftime. And the Warriors didn’t just gang-tackle. They hit hard. Pad-popping hard. Newman had only two first downs in the second half, never making it past midfield.

Cardinal Newman’s Courtland Palmer and Nolan Nagle both left the game with injuries.

After the win over Central Catholic to open the season, the Cardinals came down to earth against one of the bullies of the Bay Area. Their next game, against Palma of Salinas next Saturday, should tell them where they stand.

“Potentially, we have some great opportunities ahead of us this year,” Cronin said. “We’ve got to now go back and deal with distractions. Because when you lose, what happens is people have a tendency to say, ‘OK, where is the fault?’ But it’s all of us. If my family of seven is a mess, all seven are a mess.”

If Cronin’s other family, the one with 55 kids, is to tidy things up, they’ll have to put this one behind them in a hurry.

You can reach Staff Writer Phil Barber at 521-5263 or phil.barber@pressdemocrat.com.