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  • Writer's pictureHugo Traverso

Newman Defense Dominates Again as Cardinals Stun #89 Vacaville

Cardinal Newman's defense dominated Friday and big plays from the offense helped lead to a 27-7 win over the #89 team in the State, Vacaville High School. Newman's defense put consistent pressure on 2 star Air Force Commit QB Brody Fortunati and were able to stop the Vacaville pass game, putting Fortunati in the negatives with -7 total passing yards and a pick. Zach Raia made that interception and it lead to a Jayson Colter TD pass to Jonah Bertoli that put Newman up 20-0. Cristian Diosdado was a highly touted RB coming into the game and had averaged 8.5+ yards per carry, but Newman held him to just 5 yards per carry as Diosdado went 21 carries for 105 yards. Newman's defensive pressure was so overwhelming that Diosdado was targeted on screens 6 times and only made 3 catches for -8 yards. The other 3 times, the Newman defense was in the backfield and blew it up. DB Dominick Torres was a huge part of the pressure on screens, breaking up 2 passes and get a couple TFLs. "My mindset heading into this game was to be an underdog. I knew they (Vacaville) were going to target me a lot because of my size and all that, but I can't let that get the best of me, so I had to lock into this game and show them I'm like that," Torres said postgame when asked about his mindset. Torres said this about the win, "Feels good my last year to beat them, feels really good." The Newman defensive ends, Jesse Myers and Clayton McKenzie and Newman LBs, Zach Raia and Logan Rodriguez got into the backfield and blew up draw plays to Diosdado consistently. They also sacked Fortunati multiple times and brought so much pressure that Fortunati began to just throw the ball away. Fortunati was 4 for 14, and was 0 for 5 in the 2nd Half, overthrowing or throwing away every pass. "Gameplan? Just rip into those tackles, get in the backfield and put pressure on that QB and we did... Last 3 quarters, he was airing it out, so he was scared, but we did a good job," Jesse Myers said postgame about how Newman's line forced Fortunati to throw the ball away so much. His last pass of the night was on a 4th and 14 in the 4th Quarter from the Newman 22 yard line that flew incomplete and out of bounds that gave Newman the ball and a chance to run the clock out. Newman's defense was incredibly good, a huge step up from last year, and looked like they can hold the line during close games. Holding Vacaville, an offense that had averaged 300+ yards per game heading into the contest, to under 100 yards is massive for the Cardinals and shows how dominant their new defensive scheme is. "I feel awesome. Tonight was a great win. We worked our (butts) off out there. Tonight was great. Just do it again next week," Clayton McKenzie said when asked about the win. Coach Richard Sanchez took over defensive play calling and has a vibrant new defense that looks like the top defense in Sonoma County.

Photo Credit: Hannah Bickel

On offense, Newman was clicking and as usual, Zack Homan was dominant. Homan had 23 carries for 149 yards and 2 receptions for 63 yards and 2 TDs, 1 on a 33 yard rush and the other on a 56 yard TD reception that sealed the deal for Newman. Homan had a great game and has taken over that power RB spot for Newman. Santino Acevedo had it for a while and was a dominant force over the past 2 seasons before graduating in 2023. Him leaving put a huge question mark on how affective the Newman offense and run game would be. Homan was the answer and through 2 games, looks incredible. Transfer student RB/LB Sam Valenti will be back October 6th after sitting out the first 5 games (transfer rules) and will bring even more depth to a lively Newman run game and defense. Homan and Valenti will be a fantastic duo on offense and Valenti will be add to an incredible linebacker core of Raia, Rodriguez, Webb, Stoesser and Kemp.

The story of the game wasn't the dominance of Homan, but the dominance of transfer QB Jayson Colter. Colter was 6 for 12 for 196 yards with 3 TDs and 1 pick. He started the game off with a 70 yard dime to Jonah Bertoli for a touchdown that got Newman the early lead. Then, after Raia's interception, Colter threw a dot to Bertoli in the endzone for a 15 yard touchdown. Colter was good under pressure and despite facing consistent Vacaville blitzes, he was able to turn what looked to be big losses into gains or small losses of a few yards. Colter threw some nice passes to Santiago Adan and Kenyon Hanlon-Strane as well as Zach Homan. Colter was good in long distance passing and Newman's offense mixed in some screen plays and short passes that turned into big plays like the 56 yard TD pass to Homan. Strane was good on defense, too, and made some big plays, helping blow up some screens in the backfield. Adan was great at Tight End and Fullback for Cardinal Newman and laid great blocks and some pancakes that helped pave the way for Homan. Adan has become a great all around TE and is a reliable blocker for Newman that is great to lead the way for Newman's running backs. Adan had this to say postgame about the dominant win and how Northern California doubted Newman, "There's only one phrase appropriate, ROLL CARDS!"

Jayson Colter hands off to Zach Raia (23) in warmups

Jonah Bertoli looks like he is the new WR1 this year after 2 receptions for 85 yards and 2 TDs against Vacaville and 2 for 63 yards against Casa. He leads all Newman receivers with 148 total yards and 2 receiving TDs.

Jonah Bertoli making a nice catch in warmups

Bertoli torched his man to score both TDs and showed he could be an x-factor for Newman in close games where Newman needs a good receiver. His brother, Devon, part of the "Pancake Platoon" of himself, Aidan Woods and Matt Hilden, is a great lineman for Newman and has been able to hold the line as a starter since he was a freshman, like his brother. The Pancake Platoon held the line for Newman and gave Colter time to drop some dimes. They also helped pave the way for Homan with some pancakes. They have so many pancakes that Aidan Woods was wearing a back plate with the IHOP logo on it. All 3 are huge parts of the line for the Cardinals and are going to be critical in the success of Newman's run game. The line was great for Newman and other than the Pancake Platoon, sophomore Malikai Khaoone and freshmen Kahlio Vaetoe laid some good blocks and had some good plays on defense. Khaoone laid some blocks that paved the way for some huge Homan runs. Vaetoe had 4 tackles for Newman and looked pretty good during the game, showing he has a bright future at Cardinal Newman.

Aidan Woods (77) in warmups

Overall, Newman looked incredibly good Friday night and despite most of the North Bay and Central Valley journalists picking Vacaville, who was ranked 61 places ahead of the Cardinals Friday, Newman showed they deserve to be ranked in the top 100 teams in California. Newman will definitely climb up the CA rankings after their dominant performance. Vacaville's only touchdown came on a blocked punt that was returned 10 yards for a TD. Newman held it down on defense and was able to play well on offense, going up early and controlling the game in the 2nd Half with a consistent and good run game. Newman is looking like a solid team this year and could disrupt the NBL and shock Northern California.




Analy 56, Eureka 7

Los Gatos 35, #9 Liberty 34

Calistoga 20, Round Valley 8

Dublin 49, Ukiah 14

Tamalpias 44, Northgate 42

#18 Amador Valley 6, #8 Campolindo 0

Riordan 60, Moreau Catholic 29

Grants Pass 20, #12 Del Norte 6

Granada 35, #16 Heritage 21

#21 American Canyon 35, Fremont 12

Bishop O'Dowd 50, Skyline 0

Higley 37, Clayton Valley Charter 27

#2 San Ramon Valley 44, #15 Acalanes 21

Napa 35, Irvington 12

#7 El Cerrito 63, Freedom 14

Petaluma 35, Santa Rosa 14

Vintage 30, #20 Antioch 26

Salesian College Prep 34, #25 Tennyson 20

Piner 36, Cloverdale 17

#13 California 34, #19 James Logan 7

Justin-Siena 28, De Anza 14

Monty 60, Bethel 12

Casa Grande 42, Berkeley 6

San Rafael 30, Pinole Valley 14

Middletown 43, Terra Linda 0

#17 Monte Vista 50, San Leandro 8

#10 San Marin 55, Foothill 28

#3 Pittsburg 41, Granite Bay 21

Kelseyville 49, Sonoma Valley 20

St. Helena 56, Healdsburg 27

Escalon 42, #6 Windsor 39


#22 Redwood 35, #14 Rancho Cotate 34

#23 St. Vincent 48, Oakland Tech 19

Serra 28, #1 De La Salle 0

#5 Marin Catholic 29, Spanish Springs 7

Crystal Springs Uplands 60, Rosalind University Prep 34

Fresno Christian 60, Branson 32

Hayward 53, Novato 14

Tomales 44, Anderson Valley 29

Photo Credit: Hannah Bickel

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