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Posted by Staff Writer Eric Branch:
Six games into the season, it’s tough to figure Cardinal Newman as it enters a showdown with Montgomery on Friday in a game that will likely determine the North Bay League champion.
The Cardinals opened 0-3 against Central Catholic, Del Oro and Palma, state powers with a combined record of 15-2-1. They followed with wins against Elsie Allen, Piner and Santa Rosa, programs with a combined record of 1-17. Newman beat Santa Rosa, 28-14, on Friday.
Cardinals coach Paul Cronin said his inexperienced team figured Santa Rosa, which leapt out to a 6-0 lead, might cave after Newman roared back with 21 straight points. The Cardinals, after all, entered on the heels of blowout wins over Elsie Allen (48-13) and Piner (48-0).
“The teams we’ve had the past four years, they got a team down and they strangled them,” Cronin said. “But for this team everything is new. It’s the first time they’ve been in some of these situations. I think they remembered playing against Elsie Allen and Piner and they thought the same thing would happen to Santa Rosa. Hopefully it’s a lesson learned.”
Newman sophomore quarterback Matt Sullivan, making his third varsity start, threw an interception that Panthers linebacker Ethan Rosselli returned 13 yards for a touchdown on Newman’s first possession. Sullivan recovered and completed 7 of his last 10 passes for 120 yards and a touchdown.
Cronin said it helped to have former Cardinal quarterback Randy Wright, now playing at UC Davis, on the sidelines to help Sullivan on Friday.
“All the quarterbacks we’ve had have to have short memories,” Cronin said. “Randy talked to him on the sidelines and told him ‘Just go back out and play your next play.’ … He did a good job after that. As a sophomore you can go in the tank and not want to throw again.”

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