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Undefeated and undeniable: Cardinal Newman football owns John Carroll with second half shutout

SportsUndefeated and undeniable: Cardinal Newman football owns John Carroll with second half shutout

WEST PALM BEACH — Cspanrdinspanl Newmspann footbspanll made the most of its night honoring the Crusaders’ undefeated 1970 team.

The Crusaders bashed John Carroll Catholic 40-7 on Monday in a matchup of top Palm Beach County and Treasure Coast programs. 

Legendary former Newman head coach Sam Budnyk returned to the field which bears his name to watch the Crusaders improve to a 6-0 undefeated season under current head coach Jack Daniels. 

The game was tied at 7-7 just before halftime after a blown coverage mishap allowed the Rams’ Dawson Maehl to connect with Tony Colebrook on a screen pass for a 91-yard touchdown. 

33 unanswered points in the second half later, Newman gave JCC (4-1) its first loss of year.

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From the trenches to the touchdowns, here are four takeaways from the Crusaders’ statement win:

Glutton for punishment

Highlighted by Super 11 senior Maverick Gracio’s two sacks and 10 tackles, including four for loss, Newman’s trenches made a statement against five college-offered linemen for John Carroll. 

“A lot of guys are playing both ways on their lines and we’re able to take advantage of that and catch them in some zero coverages and get some big plays in the second half, ” Daniels said.

Newman’s defense is allowing an average of 11.8 points per game.

Cardinal Newman safety Vinny Pierre (5) returns an interception for a touchdown during the third quarter of a 40-7 victory over John Carroll Monday night in West Palm Beach.

With the exception of Week 4 at Doral, the Crusaders have allowed just one second half score – a touchdown catch by rival Benjamin’s prized Wake Forest commit Micah Mays. 

John Carroll was nearly the first opponent to have a lead on Newman had Gracio, a Kent State commit, Ta’Narie Locust and company not forced a three and out at the goal line with seconds ticking to halftime for the “big time” play of the game.

Even with one of the Crusaders’ stat-sheet topping tacklers Kristian Strong sidelined, replaced by freshman Dylan Bennett, at no point did it feel like the game was out of Newman’s control.

Second half crusades continue

Newman’s resident Energizer Bunny Vinkevus Pierre gave the Crusaders some juice by nabbing a pair of interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown. Another pick-six from senior Cole Dillon sealed the third quarter and a 33-7 lead for Newman.

Cardinal Newman is averaging 42 points a game with both sides of the ball contributing in big second-half performances. 

Those include 21-point fourth quarters at Benjamin and Doral Academy and a season-high 26-point third quarter against the Rams.

Montgomery and Warnock win over the 561

Cardinal Newman wide receiver Nae’Shaun Montgomery (3) catches a fourth quarter touchdown pass over John Carroll defensive back Robert Jones during the fourth quarter of a 40-7 victory Monday night in West Palm Beach.

Cardinal Newman lost four-star quarterback Davi Belfort to Gulliver Prep and Georgia commit Tovani Mizell to powerhouse DeMatha (MD) in the offseason.

The unrated – and underrated – Luke Warnock has made the transition under center for the Crusaders.

Reflecting on this time last year when Newman was 4-2 with losses to Benjamin and Cardinal Gibbons, two-way senior Chris Presto said, “I feel way better.”

Warnock connected with Presto for Newman’s lone first half touchdown, hit Josh Philostin for a 64-yard gain to make six on the ground for Henry Bennett and scored Naeshaun Montgomery twice.

The sophomore Montgomery arrived from Bishop Hendricken (RI) over the summer and has been impressive.

Daniels said Warnock and Montgomery both “hit a little bit of wall” recently, learning the limits of their consistency as regular varsity starters, but on Monday the duo was limitless.

Montgomery’s body control and ball skills have made him an red zone favorite for Warnock, proven by a team-high seven receiving touchdowns on 12 catches total. Presto tops the core with 409 receiving yards on 24 receptions, tallying six touchdowns.

Since enrolling at Newman for his junior year, Warnock, a Cardinal Gibbons transfer, has continued to deliver on expectations despite not seeing much playing time last fall behind three-star Central Florida commit Dylan Rizk, who is currently ranked No. 8 in Class 2M with 812 passing yards.

Cardinal Newman quarterback Luke Warnock (7) throws a pass to wide receiver Chris Presto (11) during the second quarter of a 40-7 victory over John Carroll Monday night in West Palm Beach.

“I always had a chip on my shoulder. I saw what I wanted from when I was backing up over there at Gibbons,” Warnock said, crediting the o-line and targets that make his job “easy.”

Entering Monday, Warnock’s 1125 passing yards to date ranked No. 20 in the state and fifth in Class 1M – 274 yards behind Cedrick Bailey of Chaminade-Madonna.

Against John Carroll, Warnock completed 68.8 percent (11 of 16) of passes for 163 yards. 

Keeping up with the Crusaders

Cardinal Newman wide receiver Nae’Shaun Montgomery (3) catches a touchdown pass against John Carroll during a 40-7 victory Monday night in West Palm Beach.

The Rams were the last true battle test of a comparatively grueling first half for Newman.

It wasn’t exactly the dogfight that was promised. Still, Monday’s rout of John Carroll served as a benchmark of Newman’s improvement since defeating the Rams 17-7 in 2021.

“Coach [Mickey] Groody does a great job, but those kids are so much better than they were last year and he’s getting better every year,” Daniels said of the Fort Pierce program.

On Friday, the Crusaders will again board the bus to the Muck, this time for a meeting with Glades Central. 

Including the Raiders, Boca Raton’s Saint John Paul II and district opponent SLAM!, Newman’s next three opponents have a combined record of 4-12 in 2022.

The Crusaders have a bye in Week 10 before traveling to face Gulliver Prep, which features last season’s Newman quarterback Davi Belfort, to close out the season.

“It’s us versus us,” Warnock said. “We know how good we are.”

 “Doesn’t matter who we’re playing. We’re going to practice and we’re going to play Cardinal Newman football.”

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