Prep football preview: Cardinal Newman to play at home at last

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Delayed by the Tubbs fire in 2017, Cardinal Newman’s new multi-sport field will finally host a Cardinals football game this week.

A planned renovation of the track and field, which play host to football, soccer and lacrosse games, actually began about four years ago.

But priorities were thrown to the wind in October two years ago when flames ripped through the region and seriously damaged the Newman campus in north Santa Rosa — among thousands of homes, businesses and other structures destroyed or burned in the deadly fire.

As students and families scattered in the fire aftermath, the football team practiced and played wherever it could find an open field.

Last season, the team was able to head back to its campus field, but field renovations fell behind other campus rebuild priorities.

“It’s been a long time coming for us,” said Graham Rutherford, Newman’s dean of student life. “It took us a while to raise the money for this. The challenge was, it started before the fire and we were feeling like we were making progress, but then we had such a disaster. What are you going do?”

Finally, earlier this year, the field project got the go-ahead and work began.

“We felt like if we didn’t get it done, it’s like something else we lost in the fire,” Rutherford said. “We don’t need another loss.”

Students rallied Thursday on campus during a ribbon-cutting and kids had an opportunity to step foot on the new all-weather turf, which has ground olive pits as the filling between artificial strands of grass.

Before Friday’s game, famed Cardinals alum Jerry Robinson — who played for the Philadelphia Eagles — and possibly Ed Lloyd, Newman’s first head coach after whom the field is named, may appear.

The Cardinals, 3-1 following a 17-13 loss last week to Liberty High of Brentwood, likely will notch a win in their first home game of 2019.

Ranked 38th in the state, they welcome No. 792 Balboa, which is 0-3 on the season.

Quarterback Jackson Pavitt, running backs Shane Moran and Clay Woo, with receivers Tsion Nunnally, Giancarlo Woods and Justin Lafranchi could put up some big numbers against the winless Buccaneers.

The game begins at 7 p.m.

Other games this week:

PINER Prospectors (5-0) vs. ANALY Tigers (1-3)

Time: 7 p.m.

Place: Piner High School

The undefeated North Bay League-Redwood Division Prospectors continue their run through nonconference play by facing NBL-Oak rival Analy. The Tigers haven’t won since their opening game on Aug. 23 over Santa Rosa, 26-20.

Piner is putting up impressive numbers on both sides of the ball.

Defensively, the Prospectors didn’t allow an opponent to score until last week, when Miramonte put 14 on the board. Still, Piner won, 53-14.

Piner’s offensive stats are even better: They have scored 297 points in five games, a 283-point differential.

Yonaton Isack leads all quarterbacks in the North Coast Section with 31 touchdowns, 1,748 yards and only four interceptions in 117 passing attempts. He connects most often with Isaac Torres, who has scored 14 TDs, while Michael Collins has added eight.

Analy played well against El Molino last week, hanging tight until the Lions pulled away late for a 39-24 win.

RANCHO COTATE Cougars (3-1) vs. CAMPOLINDO Cougars (4-1)

Time: 7 p.m.

Place: Campolindo High School, Moraga

Rancho, ranked 109th in the state, travels to Moraga to challenge itself against the 123rd-ranked (also) Cougars.

This should be another strong test for Rancho, which hasn’t lost since Week 1 in a 24-6 loss to Sacramento.

Rancho sends out an offense heavy on the run, but also able to do some damage in the air.

Running back Rasheed Rankin is nearing 500 yards on the ground this year (496) while averaging 124 yards a game. He has scored seven of his team’s eight rushing TDs.

Four Rancho receivers average more than 25 yards in the air per game.

Campo leads with quarterback Grant Harper, who has 1,105 yards this year along with 12 TDs and a 118.8 quarterback rating.

Complementing the air game are rushers Brandon Manty with 258 yards and one TD, Ryan O’Neil (234, 2 TDs) and Will Windatt (91 yards, 5 TDs).

WILLITS Wolverines (1-0, 3-1) vs. CLOVERDALE Eagles (1-0, 2-2)

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Place: Cloverdale High School

This early league matchup between North Central League I rivals finds them both unbeaten in league play one game in.

Willits slot receiver Jacob Arms leads the Wolverines, able to slip out of tackles and outrun defenses to put big points on the board. The 6-0, 190-pound senior is also a serious threat as a kick returner.

The Wolverines’ only loss came at the hands of Arcata, 20-7, three weeks ago.

Cloverdale has rebounded with two wins this month, 28-12 over Fort Bragg and 41-0 past Healdsburg, after two early losses, 28-7 to St. Vincent de Paul and 55-0 to Piner on opening night.

Both teams are looking to improve their second-tier finishes in the NCL I last year.

MONTGOMERY Vikings (0-5) vs. MARIA CARRILLO Pumas (2-2)

Time: 7 p.m.

Place: Maria Carrillo High School

The NBL teams have their final nonconference game this week before diving into divisional play.

The Vikings are still looking for their first win, despite several organizational wins the second-year coaching staff is pleased to see.

Carrillo may be gelling after suffering lopsided losses in its first two games: 51-16 to Redwood in August and 34-6 Sept. 6 to Benicia. Since then, the Pumas are 2-0, downing Casa Grande, 21-14, and winning 17-14 at Santa Rosa last week.

Montgomery sends out an offense almost equally run/pass. Carrillo’s isn’t a high-scoring offense, but its defense has picked up the baton and held opponents to three scores or fewer in the past two weeks.

CASA GRANDE Gauchos (1-0, 2-3) vs. VINTAGE Crushers (0-0, 3-1)

Time: 7 p.m.

Place: Vintage High School, Napa

Casa will see how it compares to Vine Valley Athletic League favorite Vintage. The Crushers, who won the inaugural VVAL title last year, are rolling so far this season.

Vintage’s only loss was to Bellarmine of San Jose, 21-13. They handily beat Acalanes, 28-20. Acalanes, of Lafayette, is ranked No. 4 in the North Coast Section Division 4 behind Cardinal Newman and Marin Catholic.

Casa downed Justin-Siena last week in a high-scoring affair, 41-34, in the Gauchos’ league opener.

Gauchos quarterback Miguel Robertson throws for about 128 yards a game (seven TDs), while running back Matt Herrera shoulders much of the offense.

Herrera averages 84 yards a game and has three TDs, while Dominic Giomi adds almost 50 yards a game with four TDs. Dominic McHale leads receivers with five TDs.

After a bye last week, Vintage resumes its title defense. It leads with the run, tallying 939 yards in four games, averaging 233 a game, while averaging only 57 yards per game in the air.

Mauricio Castro leads with 299 yards and is one of six rushers to have scored on the ground for the Crushers.

Friday’s other games:

Vine Valley Athletic League

Sonoma Valley at American Canyon, 7 p.m.

Petaluma vs. Justin-Siena, 7 p.m.

NCL I

Middletown at Kelseyville, 7 p.m.

Fort Bragg at Lower Lake, 7:30 p.m.

St. Helena at Clear Lake, 7:30 p.m.

NCL II/III

Roseland Collegiate Prep at Laytonville, 6 p.m.

Tomales at Round Valley, 6 p.m.

Potter Valley at Calistoga, 6 p.m.

Nonleague

Santa Rosa vs. Franklin, 7 p.m.

Ukiah vs. Eureka, 7:30 p.m.

St. Vincent at Healdsburg, 7 p.m.

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