FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The Cardinal Newman football team is ready to chase the North Bay League championshp, except this year the Cardinals don’t want to share.
With a “decent” finish to their 2014 season, quarterback Jordon Brookshire knows the Cardinals have all the momentum they need to get the wins, he said.
“We’re ready to get after it,” Brookshire stated. “Everyone is looking forward to it and there’s a lot of energy on the field right now. We definitely have the momentum to do what we need to.”
The decent results — as Brookshire called them — included an 8-4 overall record and a 6-1 finish in the NBL. The Cardinals tied with Rancho Cotate for the top spot in the league. A first-round win in the North Coast Section playoffs made the Cardinals ready to work for more, and that starts with perfecting the basics.
“We can always improve everywhere,” Brookshire said, “but we are picking up the little things really well.”
Fixing the smaller details will help Cardinal Newman in the long run, the junior quarterback said, a notion that is received on both sides of the football.
“We’re focused a lot on technique right now,” defensive tackle Reed Palmer said. “We need to keep fixing all the little things and then we can get aggressive.”
The focus and dedication starts with seniors, like Palmer, and trickles down to the younger players on the field. The unity must come from every angle, he said.
Palmer has been on Newman’s varsity team for three years and is ready to put his stamp in the Cardinals’ football history books. Palmer’s two older brothers played football at Cardinal Newman and he knows the importance of putting the hurt on the Rancho Cotate team.
“Both my brothers got to beat Rancho,” Palmer said. “I cannot wait for that game.”
Palmer was eager to step into a leadership position, he said, because he can relate to younger players who are still finding their roles on a varsity squad.
“I know what it is like to be a freshman on varsity,” he explained, “and we need everyone to be hard-working on this team.”
Returning to his post as the outside linebackers coach, Danny Benjamin said he was very impressed with the amount of hard work and heart he has seen in the few practices so far this preseason.
“It is so much easier to coach a group of guys who are so hard-working,” he said. “Guys who give 100 percent are so much more open to progression.”
Despite being in the early phases of preseason, Benjamin said he was very excited to watch the development of the group as a whole, and see how quickly they can adapt.
“I want them to go into this season as full speed as possible,” he said.
The Cardinals are already jazzed for their first contest of the season, Benjamin said, as they travel to Del Norte in Crescent City on Aug. 28.
Their home opener brings St. Mary’s of Stockton to town on Sept. 5, and the Cardinals begin their chase for another NBL title as conference play opens Sept. 25 at Santa Rosa High.
“The seniors always have the same excitement,” Benjamin said. “We are so ready for that first game.”
CARDINAL NEWMAN CARDINALS
Coach: Paul Cronin (14th year)
2014 record: 8-4, 6-1 in NBL (t-first place)
2013 JV record: 4-1
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Jordon Brookshire, Jr., QB: Brookshire returns as a second-year starter to lead the Cardinals in another successful season.
Reed Palmer, Sr., G/DT: A third-year player, Palmer where he will be the anchor of the outside protection.
Michael Ortola, Sr., RB/LB: Ortola has been putting in extra time in the weight room since January, coach Benjamin said. He added that he’s excited for how explosive the senior has become.
GAME NOT TO MISS
The Cardinals face off against Rancho Cotate one season after sharing the North Bay League championshp with the Cougars.
The Cardinals’ 2008 record of 13-1 remains as Cronin’s most successful season at Newman. The Cardinals’ 11-2 record in 2012 is the last time they were in the double digits for overall wins.
Aug. 28 at Del Norte 7:30
Sept. 5 St. Mary’s 7:00
Sept. 11 at Clayton Valley Charter 7:00
Sept. 25 at Santa Rosa 7:30
Oct. 2 Maria Carrillo 7:00
Oct. 9 Rancho Cotate 7:00
Oct. 16 Casa Grande 7:00
Oct. 23 at Ukiah 7:30
Oct. 30 Montgomery 7:00
Nov. 6 at Windsor 7:30