Brandon Eddie and his Cardinal Newman Cardinal teammates are proving to be unstoppable.
Newman stretched its undefeated streak to nine games with a 24-11 victory over Burlington’s Nelson Lords in Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference senior high school football playoff action Wednesday (Nov. 25). That outcome advances the Cardinals to an Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations bowl game Monday at Tim Hortons Field. The Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic league champions take on the A.N. Myer Marauders of Niagara Falls at 3:30 p.m.
In part because of Eddie, Newman has been able to steamroller its opponents this season. He’s a 6-foot-2, 280-pound starter on both offence (guard) and defence (tackle), who regularly takes snaps on third-down-and-short-yardage situations. Against the visiting Lords, for example, he was 6-for-6 on quarterback sneak plays to keep drives alive.
“I love having the ball in my hands and being able to convert first downs for my team,” Eddie said.
The two-way lineman — and sometimes quarterback — estimates he’s 20-for-20, with three touchdowns, on third down possession plays this season. And on one of his rushes against Nelson, he plowed ahead for 15 yards. “I probably could have broke it off for a touchdown, but I decided to dummy the kid instead,” Eddie said with a laugh.
According to Newman coach Anthony Macaluso, Eddie is more than a big body. “It’s his desire,” Macaluso said. “He doesn’t want to go down.
“Just like any team, when we go short yardage, we want to bring in some big strong guys. He’s one of them. When we need a push, he’s one of the guys that gives it to us.”
Newman got on the scoreboard first against the visitors when Tyler Major hauled in a seven-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Jordan Rimac.
A high snap over Nelson punter Adam Preocanin’s head led to a turnover at the Lords’ 31-yard line late in the second quarter. And from there, a series of strong runs by Nicholas Petermann set up an 11-yard touchdown strike from Rimac to wide receiver Clark Adams.
“I thought Rimac was on the ball with his passing,” Macaluso said.
The Halton league runners-up cut into the lead on their opening drive of the third quarter when Preocanin booted a 40-yard field goal. The highlight of that series of downs was a quick pass from quarterback Justin Morgan to Will Corby, who evaded a tackle and raced 35 yards down the sideline.
Steven Frketich replied with a 16-yard field goal to restore Newman’s 14-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Justin Connolly accounted for the Cardinals final touchdown when he ripped off a 29-yard scoring run.
After Newman conceded a safety touch, Nelson got a huge kick return by Robbie Walker. And on the next play, from the Newman 11-yard line, Maksim Duric caught a touchdown strike with 65 seconds remaining.
“We shut down their run game,” Eddie said. “And once we did that, they didn’t really have much in the air.”
Macaluso said Newman’s defence was outstanding, making up for some blown opportunities early in the game by the Cardinals offence.
“When we needed to, we made the big play,” the Newman coach said. “I thought that was the big difference. It was a pretty balanced win.
“We’re not satisfied, though. We’ve got one more game to go.”
The Cardinals will face the Marauders in the Independent Bowl.