All-Empire football large-school offensive player of the year: Tomasin came up big in key games

By ERIC WITTMERSHAUS
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Stephen Tomasin’s most statistically impressive game last fall came Nov. 10 against Santa Rosa, when Cardinal Newman’s star running back scored six touchdowns to help clinch the North Bay League title. But Tomasin, the large-school All-Empire Offensive Player of the Year, came up much bigger less than two weeks earlier in a 28-7 win over defending league champ Rancho Cotate.

The Cardinals came into that game battered after a narrow escape from Montgomery the week before. Matt Sullivan, Newman’s star quarterback, broke his leg in that game, and in his place, coach Paul Cronin was starting an unseasoned backup, Zach Rodriguez.

With the Cardinals running a simplified playbook, Tomasin came up huge, rushing for more than 150 yards and returning the second-half kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown and a 19-0 Newman lead.

“When you lose a starting quarterback, it can fall apart pretty quick,” Cronin said. “Matt was a great leader for us, and Stephen became a great leader on the field. He’s a really modest, good person off the field, and people want to follow him.

“A great player like that, it does relieve some pressure,” Cronin said of Tomasin’s effect on Rodriguez. “When you know you have great guys around you, it relaxes you.”

Cronin compares Tomasin with the best players he’s coached, lauding him for his multifaceted game. In addition to pacing the Cardinals’ offense and returning kicks, Tomasin played an excellent strong safety.

But his biggest impact was on offense. Cronin called Tomasin “an unselfish blocker, a great runner and a great receiver out of the backfield. Having all three phases in high school like that is really unusual.”

Tomasin, an All-Empire second teamer as a junior, said he wasn’t always so well-rounded. He credited Cronin with helping him reach his potential.

“Blocking was definitely my weak point at the beginning of my junior year,” Tomasin said. “I was somewhat selfish … and didn’t see the need of blocking. One day during practice, coach Cronin kind of pulled me aside and got really upset with me about how I’d been practicing.

“It really put me on the right track. I still remember that day. At the beginning of my senior year, I was starting to perfect my technique. I was able to take on guys who were 15, 20 pounds heavier than me and not let them get by.”

Tomasin said Cronin taught him more than the importance of blocking.

“He treats us like adults,” he said. “The way he treats us and the kind of person he is to us on and off the field helps us grow and look at ourselves in a different way than everyone else does.

“He takes it past football. I credit all my success to my teammates and coaches.”

One of those teammates is his cousin, fellow senior Mikey Tomasin, who helped Stephen get noticed when he transferred to Cardinal Newman after one year at Rincon Valley Christian.

“He just kind of pulled me in the first couple of days of practice,” Stephen Tomasin said. “My coaches got to know me pretty quickly because I had the same last name.”

Stephen Tomasin is paying that favor forward. His younger brother, freshman Nick Tomasin, saw a little bit of action in the NCS playoffs and has his sights set on playing defensive end for the Cardinals next season.


2011 ALL-EMPIRE LARGE-SCHOOL FOOTBALL

Offensive Player of the Year
Stephen Tomasin, Cardinal Newman, senior, running back/safety/kick returner

FIRST-TEAM OFFENSE

Quarterback
Christian McAlvain, Windsor, senior

Running backs
Jakob Delfino, Maria Carrillo, senior
Elijah Qualls, Casa Grande, junior

Wide receivers
Mark Adams, Analy, senior
Kyle Hammond, Ukiah, senior

Tight end
Roman Jennings, Petaluma, senior

Offensive line
Dante Cattaneo, Montgomery, senior
Thomas Kupelian, Casa Grande, senior
John McGriff, Windsor, senior
Nick Reynolds, Rancho Cotate, junior
Pete Winters, Santa Rosa, senior

Kicker
Nico Hoehne, Cardinal Newman, senior

SECOND-TEAM OFFENSE

Quarterback
Jake Zanutto, Analy, senior

Running backs
Gerardo Cervantes, Healdsburg, senior
Anthony Navarro, Rancho Cotate, senior

Wide receivers
Yousef Khoury, Rancho Cotate, senior
D.J. Mayo-Garl, Cardinal Newman, senior

Tight end
Kyle Patterson, Piner, senior

Offensive line
Matt Bauer, Cardinal Newman, senior
Mitch Mariani, Healdsburg, senior
Brady Noble, Cardinal Newman, senior
Eric Reab, El Molino, senior
Isaac Samana, Casa Grande, senior

Kicker
Julio Mata, Rancho Cotate, senior

Coach of the year
Rob Gatrell, Windsor