Posted: 2:13 pm Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Playoff Primer 2010: Cardinal Newman faces athletic Monsignor Pace 

By Jeff Greer

There are 18 playoff games across every class involving teams from our area. This week, Matt and I will break down every matchup.

Next up is Cardinal Newman, which reached the playoffs with a boot and a prayer. Newman takes on Miami’s Monsignor Pace, an undefeated power.

Cardinal Newman was shut out last week against King’s, now the Crusaders face a fantastic secondary and linebacking corps at Monsignor Pace. It won’t be easy, but Newman has the athletes to compete. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Admission is $7.

BY THE NUMBERS

cardinalnewman1CARDINAL NEWMAN
Record: 7-3
How they qualified: Won District 7-2B tiebreaker for second place.
Average points per game: 26.5
Average points allowed per game: 16.9
Offensive yardage totals: 2,610 (1,529 rushing, 1,081 passing)
Offensive stars: QB Brett Benes (1,076 passing yards, 12 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, 58.4% completion rate), RB Troy Campana (652 rushing yards, 7 touchdowns), ATH Travis Rudolph (601 receiving yards, 10 touchdowns)
Defensive stars: DB Xavier Swinton
Common opponents with Monsignor Pace: None.

monsignorpaceMONSIGNOR PACE
Record: 9-0
How they qualified: District 8-2B champions.
Average points per game: 37.1
Average points allowed per game: 7.8
Offensive yardage totals: 2,801 (1,541 rushing, 1,260 passing)
Offensive stars: QB Aryenton Cooper (943 passing yards, 12 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 60.6% completion rate), RB Anthon Samuels (1,129 rushing yards, 9.3 yards per carry, 19 touchdowns), WR Travis Greene (563 receiving yards, 8 touchdowns)
Defensive stars: CB Anthon Samuels (5 interceptions), S Jabari Gorman (43 tackles, 6 interceptions)
Area opponents: None.

Last week, the Crusaders poured all of their energy into a Monday night tiebreaker with North Broward Prep and Pine Crest. Cardinal Newman’s Ryan Hullihan kicked a walk-off field goal that whipped the home Cardinal Newman crowd into a frenzy. It was quite the celebration. But because of the tiebreaker, Newman had one fewer day to practice for King’s Academy and spent the weekend watching film for the tiebreaker instead of preparing fully for King’s.

Newman was smoked by King’s, 21-0.

This week, Cardinal Newman goes back to normal. Coach Steve Walsh can focus on Miami-Monsignor Pace’s talented defense, which allows 7.8 points a game. Monsignor Pace has forced 24 turnovers. Walsh hopes his home-run hitters Troy Campana and Travis Rudolph can make some things happen. And he fully expects quarterback Brett Benes to return to form after struggling against King’s. To use an old sports cliche, that Newman offense will have to be firing on all cylinders to beat Monsignor Pace.

Monsignor Pace runs a 4-3 defense with “active linebackers,” Walsh said. The Spartans blitz well and flow to the ball. It helps to have a lockdown corner in Anthon Samuels and an electrifying safety in Jabari Gorman, who is a ball hawk and a big-time BCS prospect.

“When the guys came back on Monday, they refocused and were ready to work,” Walsh said. “We need to have success running the ball on first and second down. If we’re in third-and-long against these guys, their linebackers will really give us some problems.”

Starting fast will be huge. Monsignor Pace outscored its regular-season opponents 98-21 in the first quarter and 73-9 in the second.

“You need to have some success early,” Walsh said. “If you can have some success and positive plays going early, you can get into the flow of things.”

On offense, Monsignor Pace mixes it up. Walsh expects to see some spread formations and even some I formation. Newman will need to shoot the gaps and keep Pace’s athletic outside players in front of them. That quarterback Aryenton Cooper runs the ball effectively makes it a little tougher to plan.

“They can do a little bit of everything,” Walsh said. “They’re very athletic.”

For a prediction of this and every first-round playoff game, click here.

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