"We won our third consecutive state championship," said Indianapolis star Patrick Kuntz while recounting the events the magical 2004 season. "We went 13-2, and the two teams we lost to in the regular season we beat in the playoffs.
"I played better than the last couple of seasons. I had the most sacks on the team and broke the career sack record for the school. I played the last four games with a broken arm and that was pretty tough, but I broke the sack record. The record was 24 ½ and I ended up with 26 ½."
Kuntz's ability to overcome adversity is a reflection of his personality. He's known as a "throwback" player, who thrives on competition, and excels in the weight room. Kuntz's high school football coach, coach Scifres, recognized Kuntz' skill early in his athletic career.
"Patrick is a very intense competitor," said Scifres of Kuntz. "He's a guy that works extremely hard everyday in practice and goes 100 percent all the time, whether it is in practice or in a game. His work ethic has been a big factor in his accomplishments in the weight room and how hard he plays on the field.
"We had a pretty good idea in eighth grade that he was going to special because he was big and very physical, even as an eighth-grader. As soon as he began lifting weights we knew he would be a fine football player for us.
"He played his freshman year with freshman team. His sophomore year he started varsity at nose guard for us. His junior and senior years he started at both offensive tackle and defensive end."
Despite Kuntz's numerous athletic accomplishments, he understands what he needs to work on in order to develop into an elite player at the college level. Additionally, Kuntz has is sights set on playing as a freshman and is working hard on becoming a complete player.
"I feel my strength is stopping the run, but I wan to work on my technique," said Kuntz in response to what he needs to work on the most. "No matter what, you're playing technique is important. I also want to improve my pass rushing. Specifically, I want to work on my moves, spin moves, combination moves, and overall reading of certain [passing] situations.
"Getting on the field, competing, and being able to play," said Kuntz when asked about his goals for his freshman season. "Right now I want to get bigger and stronger, but still work on keeping my speed. Until I get Notre Dame's workout, I will be doing our school's workout."
Kuntz's "throwback" football nature resembles that new Irish football coach Charlie Weis. Kuntz and Weis, as well as new defensive line Coach Jappy Oliver, spoke throughout the recruiting process and each of them formed a unique bond with each other. The bond he formed with both coach Weis and coach Oliver was one of the main reasons Kuntz chose Notre Dame.
"Coach Weis called me the most," Kuntz said. "Jappy Oliver, who's my position coach, called as well. He's a great guy, is very social, and is a player's coach. You can tell he's not going to act like he is better than anyone.
"Coach Weis he's kind of an old-school guy. That's the kind of player I am. He's also a very smart coach and has a great attitude.
"I felt like Notre Dame was more of a football atmosphere. The people around there and the environment, football is taken very seriously there, and that's where I felt I fit in."
Also very important in Kuntz' decision was academics.
"The first reason is the academics," Kuntz said when asked why he chose the Irish. "The prestige and the degree opens doors. Then I would say the football tradition. Even though they have been down recently, the tradition there is unmatched. Then I would definitely say the coaches. I felt comfortable with them, and I feel like they are going to turn this thing around."
Whether or not Kuntz will contribute next year is unknown. But with a player like Kuntz, who possesses a unique blend of mental toughness and determination on the practice field, one thing is for certain, each practice will be both lively and intense.