Posted: 11:56 pm Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Playoff Primer 2011: Cardinal Newman to play powerhouse Davie-University 

By Jeff Greer

There are 16 playoff games on Friday involving teams from our area. In the buildup to the games, we’ll break down every matchup.

There hasn’t been a season like this at Cardinal Newman in a decade. The Crusaders are 9-1, and they’ve earned their second consecutive playoff spot. They’ve done it with a nice blend of speed and smart decisions. But now the playoffs are here, and Newman gets a rude welcome: A trip to Davie to play last year’s Class 2B finalist University School. How fun.

University is undefeated and firing on all cylinders. The Suns have an explosive offense and are ranked first in the state in Class 3A.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. General admission is $8; reserved seating is $9.

CARDINAL NEWMAN AT DAVIE-UNIVERSITY

CARDINAL NEWMAN
Record: 9-1
How they qualified: Runner-up of District 7-3A.
Average points per game: 30.4.
Average points allowed per game: 15.6.
Offensive yardage totals: 207.1 rush, 116.1 pass per game.
Offensive stars: ATH Devonte Brown (616 rushing yards, 3 TDs), WR/CB Travis Rudolph (625 receiving yards, 5 TDs), QB Brett Benes (57% completion rate, 15 TDs, 2 INTs).
Defensive stars: LB Dane Sellers, CB Erick Hardnett.
Common opponents with University: None.

UNIVERSITY
Record: 10-0
How they qualified: Winner of District 8-3A.
Average points per game: 40.1.
Average points allowed per game: 12.5.
Offensive yardage totals: 109.4 rush, 203.0 pass per game.
Offensive stars: QB Gunnar Holcombe (68.6% completion rate, 23 TDs, 3 INTs), RB Jordan Scarlett (566 rushing yards, 12 TDs), WR Macgarrett Kings (675 total yards of offense, 14 TDs).
Common opponents with Cardinal Newman: None.

I don’t know what would be more intimidating to a Newman: University’s four shutouts (six if you count the two games that were forfeited later on) or the fact that University hasn’t scored fewer than 42 points in a game all year. Holcombe has put up serious stats in his senior year, and he has all kinds of weapons on offense. That’s what makes University so tough. Newman plays a ton of players both ways, including go-to receiver Travis Rudolph, and Newman can’t afford to let University’s offense stay on the field too long. But that’s a tall task.

For Newman, it’s simple: Get the ball in the hands of Devonte Brown and Rudolph and let things happen. Quarterback Brett Benes came out of last week’s game with an arm injury, and his health is in question for Friday. That’s huge for Newman, even with the nice job that backup George Mastics did in relief of Benes. The senior Benes is accurate and smart, and his ability to direct the offense is critical to getting Newman’s offense firing. Big tight end Matt Burke will also help up the seams and as a safety valve, but still, the offense has to be gunning every possession.