One downside to this COVID-shortened spring high school football season is the limited time coaches had to prepare their players for all facets of the game.

That hurt the Vanden High football team in their home game outside the conference against the visit of Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa on Friday night.

The Vikings had just equalized the 21:21 result in the third touchdown of second quarterback Tre Dimes of the night, only two minutes left in the game. But the visitors took the following nudge to the house to give Cardinal Newman a 28-21 victory.

A multi-year powerhouse ranked 29th in the state, the Cardinals won the Division 3-AA State Championship in 2019.

“It was a good challenge for us,” said Vanden head coach Sean Murphy. “It lets us know where we have to go as a program if we want to achieve the goals that we want to achieve in the long term.”

Vanden had a chance to score on his first run, but the Cardinals blocked a Viking field goal attempt. Vanden stopped Cardinal Newman’s drive and retrieved the ball, scoring a 15-yard touchdown hit from Dimes to Jamai East. The extra point made it 7-0 Vanden.

The first half was a back and forth defensive battle with Cardinal Newman ending the game at 7 towards the end of the first half.

The visitors scored two goals in the third quarter. But Dimes linked up with Michael Belk for two TDS, the Sconed tying the score at 21 before the collapse on the ensuing whistle gave Cardinal Newman the win.

“We’ve had some major mishaps on special teams,” said Murphy. “So that’s up to us as coaches and we’re going to fix it.”

Overall, however, Murphy was pleased with his team’s game.

“Our boys fought every 48 minutes,” he said. “At the moment it’s mostly mental errors. It is not physical defects that are the problem. When you play against a team like Cardinal Newman and you make mental mistakes, you get paid for it. I felt like we played flawless football longer than we did in the first game (a win over Will C. Wood). ”

He praised Belk, who also plays defensively, for a great game on both sides of the ball. Murphy also highlighted the good game played by linebackers Kaden McLeod and Dimes.

“Cardinal Newman had some really good lightning plans and he (Dimes) handled the pressure they put on there well, which is a good sign for the future,” Murphy said.

And Dimes was helped by his linemen.

“Our offensive line had some really good moments, really good pass protection,” said Murphy, who was pleased with the overall team performance.

“I was happy with the energy level, the way we resisted when we faced adversity,” he said. “I felt like we made some good adjustments. The kids were able to execute when we made these adjustments. ”

Murphy believes this game was a good preparation for the upcoming uphill battle against Vacaville High next week.

“It was good to face an opponent who will cause us trouble and put our young men in difficult situations,” said the coach.

The score

Cardinal Newman 28, Vanden 21

Next game: Vacaville in Vanden, Friday at 7.30 p.m.