Posted: 11:54 pm Monday, November 12th, 2012

Playoff Primer 2012: Deja vu for Cardinal Newman 

By Jeff Greer

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

Travis Rudolph's health is a key factor in how well Newman does in the first round.

So Cardinal Newman was 9-1 this fall, finishing second in District 7-3A and posting major offensive statistics. Now the Crusaders, armed with a handful of playmakers and undersized lines, play at University School in the regional semifinals. No, it’s not 2011. We promise. No, seriously. It’s not. But boy it looks a lot like it, doesn’t it? Almost eerily the results of last year’s 9-1 season look like this year’s version. But the stars are a year older, particularly Travis Rudolph, who has emerged as one of the best playmakers in the state. His health is a key factor in Newman’s success, as is running back Devonte Brown.

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

CARDINAL NEWMAN
Record: 9-1.
How they qualified: Runner-up, District 7-3A.
Average points per game: 39.9.
Average points allowed per game: 21.6.
Offensive yardage totals: 3,146 (2,075 run/1,071 pass).
Offensive stars: RB Devonte Brown, WR Travis Rudolph, TE Matt Burke.
Defensive yardage totals: 2,410 (1,373 rush/1,037 pass).
Best win: 37-26 over North Broward Prep.

UNIVERSITY
Record: 8-0.
How they qualified: Winner, District 8-3A.
Average points per game: 45.8.
Average points allowed per game: 8.4.
Offensive stars: QB Mike White, RB Jordan Scarlett, WR Jordan Cunningham.
Best win: 49-3 over Cocoa.

PBGametime favorite: University.
Pinkos’ prediction: University by 38.
Lazindex favorite: University.

Will districts change next year enough to finally give Travis Rudolph and company a chance to compete for a state title? That’s the question for the offseason. For this week, it’s whether or not Cardinal Newman can somehow slow down University’s offense, which blazed Newman for 37 points last year in the first round. University scores at will — 46 a game to be exact — and it does so with an incredibly balanced attack. Thirty-six yards is all the separates the passing game from the rushing game for University, which is why MaxPreps has the Suns ranked 33rd in the nation and other outlets even have them higher.

Cardinal Newman needs major games from its offensive studs, particularly Rudolph, Brown, Erick Hardnett and Matt Burke. George Mastics must be perfect at quarterback, and Newman must maintain possession and slow the game down. That’s a tall task for a team designed for the big play. It works on the local level — Newman is one of the highest-scoring teams around — but against a team with even more firepower, it’s not a good idea to get into a shootout. If it’s high scoring, it’s a bad spot for Newman. If not, maybe the Crusaders can write a new ending to this year’s story, which until now is far too familiar to last year’s.