Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa (13-1) hosting El Camino-Oceanside (9-6), Saturday, 6:00 pm
The state CIF Division 3-AA Bowl Game pits two teams with longstanding football traditions clashing in what should be a very interesting match-up.
CIF North Coast Section Division 4 champion Cardinal Newman has been to the big dance twice before and both times came up on the short end of the stick. In 2006, and in the first year the CIF re-established state championships for football Coach Paul Cronin and his Cardinals gave heavily favored Oaks Christian-Westlake Village all it could handle before falling 27-20 on overtime in the Division III championship at the Home Depot Center in Carson. Two years later they were back in Carson and once again an underdog and fell 28-6 to St. Bonaventure-Ventura in the D3 title game.
Now, after getting close the past 11 years but not getting a CIF state Bowl Game appearance, Cronin and his boys are back and under the new format the game is in Santa Rosa on the new artificial turf field at Cardinal Newman.
Their opponent, El Camino, has a deep tradition of winning football, it just hasn’t been in recent years. When legendary Coach Herb Meyer retired after the 2003 season after 17 years at cross-town arch rival Oceanside and 26 years at the El Camino helm, he was the all-time leader in coaching wins with 338 according to the Cal-Hi sports Record Book.
Last year El Camino was 1-9 and in the past 10 years they have only had a winning record four times. Even this year second year Coach Michael Hobbs and his Wildcats were 3-6 after a 10-0 Avocado League loss to Mission Hills-San Marcos, and seemingly out of the playoffs.
However, since then El Camino has won six straight games and along the way captured the CIF San Diego Section Division II title as the No. 7 seed in a barn burning 75-59 victory over Bishop’s-La Jolla, and then last week they won the SoCal 3-AA championship with a 34-18 victory over Temecula Valley-Temecula.
Cardinal Newman comes into the game off a NorCal 3-AA 42-7 victory over Los Gatos in a game in which they barely broke a sweat. The Cardinals are ranked No. 41 in the Cal-Hi Sports rankings and power rankings and No. 45 in the power rankings while El Camino is on the bubble for Cal-Hi Sports and at No. 59 in the power rankings.
Newman would seem to be favored on paper and has the home field advantage, but El Camino has an enrollment of over 3,000 student and a roster of 69 players and has played a schedule of almost all large enrollment schools.
Newman has seen it before and the game against state ranked Liberty-Brentwood where Coach Paul Cronin and his boys gave the Patriots all they could handle before falling 17-13 should have them prepared for whatever El Camino throws at them.
For the Cardinals it will mean 6-2, 190-pound senior dual-threat quarterback Jackson Pavitt will need to be on target and grind out some yards on the ground, junior running back and safety Shane Moran will need to do his job on both sides of the ball, as will senior wideout and defensive back Giancarlo Woods, and 6-3, 175-pound junior Tsion Nunnally will likely be seeing a lot of balls coming in his direction on offense and defense.
El Camino has played some very good teams in the Avocado League so they should be prepared for Newman. Running back and defensive back Noah Sega scored three times last week against Temecula Valley. The 5-11 had TD runs of 18 and one yards and he returned an interception 71 yards for a score. Kiah Reid, a 5-11, 188-pound sophomore quarterback has had some recent success and last week he found speedy 5-9, 152-pound junior wide receiver Jacob Gathright for a 48-yard TD pass to open the scoring after Gathright broke two tackles in his run to pay dirt.
“El Camino is an excellent team with a lot of talent,” Cronin remarked. “Seeing them on film they obviously can do some impressive things.”
“For us to have success we are going to have to be great with our eyes so we can get to spots quickly,” Cronin continued. “Games are won by people and teams that make the most plays. The things we need to do this week to have success is we have to take advantage of opportunities when we have a chance to make a play. We also have to focus on things we control and that sometimes is challenging in a big game, but it should be fun.”