The much-anticipated battle between reigning NCS champs turned out to be a dud as Cardinal Newman dominated Concord with ease, 35-6, at Lloyd Field Friday night.
About the only thing that wasn't clear-cut about the season was whether Newman played well or not.
Cardinal coach Paul Cronin and quarterback Matt Sullivan thought it wasn't a good effort. Concord coach Brian Hamilton, on the other hand, called Newman a great team.
It was easy to see why Hamilton was impressed. Newman scored 35 straight points before Concord got on the board with 1:27 to go.
Concord captured the NCS Division II title last year, defeating Rancho Cotate, 40-37, in the finals. Three players from that team were rewarded with college scholarships, so it's not surprising that the Minutemen would be in rebuilding mode this season.
Newman lost several players from its Division III title team, but the current squad is not rebuilding mode. With modest improvement, the Cardinals will be a force in the NCS Tournament.
Mike Tomasin scored four touchdown and zig-zagged for 132 yards. The 5-foot-8 running back had Concord coach Hamilton searching for superlatives.
The best word he come up with was "phenomenal."
Tomasin set the tone when he scampered 24 yards for a touchdown on the Cardinals first possession. The Minutemen gave Newman a short field with an unsuccessful gamble on a run on fourth and two from their own 32.
Tomasin was also huge on defense. His jarring tackle on Olito Thompson 4:00 before halftime caused a fumble as Concord was marching toward a tying touchdown. Seven players later, seconds before halftime, Tomasin bulled his way into the end zone from the two.
Tomasin and Co. continued their onslaught until Cronin took out his starters in the fourth quarter.
Sullivan, though he wasn't pleased with his performance, put up good numbers. The senior completed 14 of 21 passes for 264 and one 85-yard touchdown toss to Jacob Webb. He also gained a lot of yardage on quarterback draws. Before taking a seat he gained 108 yards on the ground.
"We weren't mentally focused," Sullivan said. "We made a lot of mental errors that could've killed us. We had a chance to put them away in the first half, but we missed a couple of easy interceptions and I didn't make the smartest decisions.
Steven (Tomasin) is a super runner. We ran the play well, but have to cut down on penalties and mental errors."
Newman coach Cronin was on the same page as Sullivan.
"I'm thrilled with the win, but I don't think we played particularly well," he said. "Too many mistakes."
Like everyone else, Cronin was expecting a close game.
"I'm surprised at the final score. However, their quarterback (Jacob Daynes) hurt his hand in the second quarter and he tried to tough it out, but we could see it was hurting him.
"They're a well-coached team and will have a good season."
Newman hosts Alhambra next Friday.