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Casa v.s. Newman

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The football team sustained a tough blow against talent-loaded Cardinal Newman Friday night, losing 42-7 in a hard-fought battle. Against the backdrop of lively band music and great performances from cheer and the dance team, even the best efforts of seniors and captains Spencer Torkelson, Travis Voight, and Trevor Naugle were not enough to overcome the fierce Cardinals. Prior to the game, Naugle acknowledges that Newman offers some of the steepest competition in the league.

   “Newman is going to be a big, pivotal game because they are not only good, but our first league opponent. They’re basically the equivalent of Napa,” said Naugle.

   Early on, the team struggled to contain Newman senior and wide receiver Damian Wallace, whose lightning quick speed would cause more trouble further on in the game. The Cardinals cruised through a mostly uncontested drive down the field, scoring the first touchdown of the game late in the first quarter. After a 20 yard return by senior running back Sawyer Johnson, Newman intercepted a pass by senior quarterback Frank Gawronski for another touchdown with a minute to go in the first quarter. Going into the second quarter, Gawronski expresses his thoughts on how the team needed to improve their game.

   “We need to take care of the ball more and execute. We can’t give them easy plays,” said Gawronski.

     After Voight forced a fumble on the goal line, which the team recovered, senior Sawyer Johnson rushed for 80 yards with a spectacular coast-to-coast run that resulted in a touchdown. The uplifting event was successfully followed by an extra point from the team kicker, senior Brandon Keefer. Unfortunately, Newman almost immediately responded with a 95 yard kick return by Wallace, who rushed for his first touchdown of the game. The team reevaluated their play in search of quick improvement before the second half of the game.

   “We are hanging with them right now in every other aspect of the game besides their kick returns. We just need to not give up the big plays and keep fighting,” said Naugle.

   This attitude gave the team the confidence that they needed in order to keep the momentum going. Quickly, that momentum was slowed by a Newman touchdown eight minutes into the third quarter. Maintaining control, Newman continued to push the ball up the field, aided by some tough yards up the middle from Wallace and Tanner Mendoza. Among others, cornerback Keefer and junior linebacker Jack Leonetti came up with impressive defensive stops. Leonetti would end the game with 12 tackles. Newman eked out a touchdown courtesy of a carry by Mendoza, bringing the score to 35-7 with five minutes left in the third quarter. Asked why the tone of the game had changed so much in the second half, Johnson details the reasons for the team’s scoring difficulties.

   “We had speed going into the half, but they just started playing with more heart than us and wanted it more than we did. If we had kept up the intensity, we might have been able to come back and win like we did against San Marin last week. We’re just going to learn more for the next game,” said Johnson.

   The team regained some of its heart in the start of the fourth, beginning with a kick return by Johnson to the 40 yard line. Torkelson, who would end the night with 227 rushing yards, muscled the ball up to the Cardinals’ 33 yard line. After another carry by Johnson to the 20, the drive was cut short. Alternate senior quarterback Garrett Buffo was picked off, effectively ending the team’s last offensive push. With eight minutes left in the fourth quarter, Mendoza punctuated the game with another touchdown for Newman.

   On the surface, Friday night was just an average football game. Yet some of the players used the game as an opportunity to express their views on deeper issues outside the football arena. Several athletes on the team wore blue tape on their ankles and wrists as a sign of respect for police and as identification with the Blue Lives Matter movement. Naugle, one of the many wearing the tape in a gesture of support, explains his decision to wear the tape.

   “My dad is a police officer so that’s been a big part of my life with me supporting him, with everything going on and people bashing cops, it has been hard for me. There are some bad cops out there, obviously, but there are many many more good cops and I feel like those get forgotten in all of it.”

   Senior Mikey Morarity, whose presence as a ferocious linebacker was missed during Friday’s game, agreed with Naugle. His father, who is also a police officer, has been a role model in his life. He explains his thoughts on a teammate potentially wearing a band for Black Lives Matter in contrast to his blue tape.

   “If he supports the Black Lives Matter movement, go ahead, all power to you. It’s respect; I respect his decision, he should respect my decision to support my parents or anyone else who has served,” said Morarity.

   Although the team did not succeed in defeating Cardinal Newman, they did learn some valuable lessons about persistence in the face of adversity. Friday’s game didn’t go as well as the team may have hoped, but this temporary setback is just one bump in the road of a very long season. For now the team will fall to 1-2 in league, and next up is an away game against Rancho Cotate on September 30th.

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Casa v.s. Newman