NCS football roundup: Cardinal Newman breezes in playoff opener

Top-seeded Cardinal Newman got off to a great start in the first round of the North Coast Section Division 4 playoffs by demolishing visiting Tennyson 56-7 on Friday night.

The Cardinals (10-1) move on to a semifinal next weekend versus the winner of Saturday's matchup between No. 4 Tamalpais and No. 5 Piner.

As for the win over No. 8 Tennyson (5-6), it was no contest from the beginning. After Cardinal Newman blocked a Lancers punt, the Cardinals scored on their first play from scrimmage on a 35-yard scamper by Tsion Nunnally (3 touchdowns).

On their next possession, the Cardinals scored on a 53-yard pass from quarterback Jackson Pavitt (10-11, 178 yards, 4 touchdowns) to Giancarlo Woods (4 catches, 85 yards, 2 touchdowns) to ignite the fuse for the Cardinal Newman rout.

Pavitt connected with Nunnally again for a 14-yard score to give the Cardinals a 21-0 lead. Clayton Woo (5 rushes for 72 yards, touchdown) followed with a 33-yard scoring run and Pavitt hit Woods for a 7-yard score to give the Cardinals a 35-0 cusion after the first quarter. The Cardinals put their reserves in midway through the second quarter.

“It was a mismatch. We were faster than they were. The kids did a good job of focusing and taking care of business,” Cardinal Newman coach Paul Cronin said. “Our offensive line did a really good job - they were really crisp.”

The Cardinals' defensive was a stone wall, giving up very few yards to the struggling Tennyson offense.

“They didn't hit many plays. Their quarterback was uncomfortable. Our defensive line really put on the pressure,” Cronin said.

The first-string Cardinals defense was led by Shane Moran and Mitch Russell, each with five tackles (each with one for a loss) in less than one half of action.


The No. 3 Mustangs (8-2) easily won their first-round Division 6 game against the visiting No. 6 Spartans (6-5) of Pinole. Middletown led 13-0 after the first quarter and 33-0 at halftime. It was Middletown's seventh consecutive victory.

For the Mustangs, it was a punishing ground game that did the trick as usual on offense. Middletown scored a touchdown on every offensive possession in the first half.

“The kids were very disciplined and we controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball,” Middletown coach Bill Foltmer said. “It was a big win for us.”

Running back Nico Barrio did the bulk of the damage, rushing for 181 yards on 15 carries with three touchdowns. Barrio had scoring runs of 18, 25, and 4 yards.

Dillon Tingle also had a 1-yard scoring run and Cheydon Tom scored on special teams by recovering a fumble in the end zone off a botched snap on a Pinole Valley punt.

Defensively, the Mustangs put the clampdown on the Spartans' offense, squeezing off running lanes and pressuring their quarterback.

“Defensively, the kids played great. We shut them down,” Foltmer said. “Pinole Valley was not able to complete a long pass.”

As a team, Middletown rushed for 266 yards and threw for 102 yards while Pinole Valley ran for 83 yards and passed for 148 (mostly in the second half).

Middletown advances to a semifinal next weekend against the winner of Saturday night's game between No. 2 St. Bernard's Academy and No. 7 Ygnacio Valley. If Ygnacio Valley wins, then Middletown hosts the semifinal by virtue of a higher seeding.


In a Division 3 opening-round game, the No. 8 Panthers (4-6) saw their season come to a stark end, as they were no match for the No. 1 Knights (10-1) of Walnut Creek. Santa Rosa was buried early, giving up three touchdowns in the first quarter and three more in the second quarter to trail 42-0 at halftime.

“Las Lomas just smoked us. They were bigger, faster and stronger than us. We were just outmatched,” Santa Rosa coach Russell Ponce said.

The Panthers were unable to slow down senior Las Lomas running back Isaiah Newell (6-foot-3, 215 pounds), an Oregon State commit. Ponce said he thought Newell had over 300 yards rushing against the Panthers to go along with at least five touchdowns.

“Newell is big, fast, strong. He is a complete running back. He also had big guys in front of him. Our guys just couldn't stop him,” Ponce said. “Las Lomas has some special players.”

On offense, Santa Rosa abandoned the run to rely on the pass, a strategy that didn't pay off against the physically superior Knights.

Santa Rosa quarterback Trevor Anderson (17-34, 108 yards, 3 interceptions) was under heavy duress all night. The limited Panthers ground game was also ineffective, amassing only 78 yards.

“I'm proud of my team, I just thanked the players (in the locker room),” Ponce said as he reflected on the season. “This was the strangest year I've ever been a part of with our start (five straight losses). But the kids turned it around (four straight wins to end the regular season to clinch the NBL-Redwood title). I knew we were a good team. The kids rallied.”


The host Saints pulled away with two big runs by sophomore running back Ivan Robledo in the third quarter to win their Division 7 matchup with St. Vincent.

After St. Helena took a 22-15 halftime lead, Robledo had a TD run of 94 yards and on his next carry another TD run of 67 yards as the Saints (9-2) pulled away from the Mustangs (9-2).

St. Vincent was led by freshman running back Kai Hall with 106 yards on 14 rushes, while sophomore Jacob Porteous had 210 yards passing, including two touchdown passes to sophomore Dante Antoni.

“The big plays killed us,” St. Vincent coach Trevor Herzog said. “I'm really proud of our team. They played their hearts out, and we're just getting started with this program.”

St. Helena will play the winner of top-seeded Salesian's Saturday matchup with No. 8 Stellar Prep.

John Jackson of the Petaluma Argus-Courier contributed to this story.

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