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Padecky: With a final, perfect step, NBL has a new champion

  • Casa Grande's John Porchivina lets out a yell after a sack near the goal line and teammate Cody Hughson tries to lobby for a safety. (JOHN BURGESS / The Press Democrat)

Off to the side Friday night, apart from the screaming, the jumping, the hugging, with the noise commensurate with the achievement, Trent Herzog stood alone on Newman's field.

His eyes were red. His voice was shaky. His stare was somewhere. That's because he was somewhere else, somewhere he had never been before and it was overwhelming him.

“I might start crying,” Herzog said. “But if I do, it's good tears. This is the happiest I have ever been as a coach. I am going to remember this moment to the day I die.”

Casa Grande vs. Cardinal Newman Football

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Actually Herzog very well might try to push the envelope on this one. He may take it beyond this life but to the next one, to that place where coaches who have won championships sit around and tell stories for eternity. And this is one story to tell.

“We had a target on our back from Day One,” said Casa's Cody Hughson. “We were everybody's game.”

To play with that pressure could cripple a team, high expectations becoming leg irons. After all, beating Casa in the fall of 2013 would be the cherry on top for North Bay League teams. That's why Herzog had moist eyes, why the players celebrated like it was New Year's Eve (without the adult beverage of course). That's why, after the game, when Casa was sure Cardinal Newman had run out of time and no longer could scare them with onside kicks and dogged attitude, they let it out. They let it go.

The Casa Grande Gauchos are the 2013 NBL football champions, a perfect 10-0, and no one can say they lucked into it, like the Gauchos did it when no one was watching.

No, Cardinal Newman was watching all right. Oh, how Newman was watching. Casa's 40-28 victory was earned. That's what elevated the postgame decibel level for Casa.

“Usually when we get on top of someone,” Hughson said, “you can tell the other team loses a little bit of the fight. Not Cardinal Newman. That's the reason they have a great program. We hit them hard tonight and they never quit.”

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