Pre-game Notes: The second round of the playoffs sees a rematch of last years state championship final. Notre Dame enters this game with a 20 game winning streak with their last lost coming on Sept 28, 2007 against Washington (21-19). Saints coach Scot Bemis saw his team struggle last week against 16th seeded Sahuarita with a slow start and playing flat. Even though Notre Dame won 28-13 the bus ride back to the school was a quiet trip. The good news is the Saints running attack has a "thundering and lightning" quality, according to Coach Bemis, with senior RB's Andrew Stutz (1,028 yards) and Patrick Foley (501 yards) carrying the rushing load. The Notre Dame defense has kept the opposing offenses at bay allowing only 17 points against Greenway as the highest point total from the opposition. Cottonwood Mingus breezed through the weak 4A-11 Grand Canyon region and defeated #8 Amphitheater 28-20 in the first round of the playoffs. Coach Bob Young knows his defense is stronger than last year but the challenge has been replacing the strong offensive weapons lost from last year's team. Mingus relied on its defense and its running game to win 9 games this year. Senior QB Tony Vocca has rushed for 1109 yards and passed for 1181 yards. Senior RB Robert Ortiz is a strong runner and is used for returning kicks. Sophomore DB Juan Gonzales leads the defense in total tackles. This is the third year in a row that these two teams have met in the playoffs with Mingus winning in 2006 and Notre Dame winning in last year's championship game.
Recap: Notre Dame takes the opening kickoff and in 12 plays RB Andrew Stutz scores on a 3-yard run and its Saints 7-0. Notre Dame uses two quarterbacks as senior Shane Wolfe and junior Will King each brings in different strength packages to the team. This system works again on the next drive as RB Andrew Stutz scores again with a 9-yard run, but the extra point is missed and Notre Dame leads 13-0. The momentum swings in the Marauders direction as QB Tony Vocca hits WR Ty Meacham on a 56 yard TD pass to make the score 13-7 Saints. Mingus controls the line of scrimmage by a pounding running game and Mingus drives 78 yards in 8 plays as Tony Vocca takes it in from the one and Mingus leads 14-13. Notre Dame struggles until 2:14 left in the half as RB Patrick Foley scampers on a 58 yard run and the two point conversion has the score Notre Dame 21, Mingus 14. Andy Wilder kicks a 31 yard field goal and the momentum swings back to the Saints as they lead at the half 24-14.
The second half becomes the Patrick Foley and Andrew Stutz show as these two run over the Mingus defense. Patrick Foley breaks a number of tackles to score on a 43-yard run, Andrew Stutz takes it in from 14 yards out and again from 12 yards and its Notre Dame rolling 45-14. RB senior Folabi Solanke dashes 72 yards to finish the Saints scoring. Mingus adds a late safety and the final score is Notre Dame 52, Mingus 16.
Bottom line: Every week opposing coaches' just shake their heads wondering how their teams can match up with the talent of Notre Dame. The Saints set the tempo on whether they will play well or not. When the Saints are focused they roll over people. Notre Dame lost the momentum in the middle of the first half then all of a sudden they gain it back and they fire on all cylinders. Last weeks close scare woke up this team and that is not good news for their next opponent. If Notre Dame plays solid football the rest of the way it is hard to see who can stop them.
Game ball: We need to give out two game balls tonight, one each to "Lightning and Thunder" Andrew Stutz with 78 yards on 12 carries and scoring a total of four touchdowns. Patrick Foley on 11 carries for 150 yards and two touchdowns. Coach Bemis is very pleased that these two "work horses" add so much to both the offense and the defense. This one-two punch makes the Saints ground game a huge force to deal with as the semi-finals are next week.
Up next: #1 Notre Dame plays against #5 Greenway who they beat a few weeks ago 40-17.