One year ago, the Notre Dame Pioneers saw their season come to an end in the second round of the high school playoffs when they were defeated by Parkview Baptist, who at the time was the defending state champions, in the Class 3A regional.
But this year, the Pioneers were determined not to suffer the same fate as last season as Notre Dame went on the road and knocked off the defending state champions St. Charles 27-7 to advance to the Class 3A quarterfinals.
“We’re glad to be practicing during Thanksgiving week,” Pioneers head coach Lewis Cook said. “After not practicing last year during Thanksgiving week because we were out of the playoffs, it is nice to be able to know we’ll be practicing again this week.”
The Pioneers, who improved to 10-1 on the year, will play host to a familiar foe in the quarterfinals next week when Iowa travels to Crowley.
“Iowa is a pretty good football team,” Cook said. “They have some pretty good athletes and the first time we faced them this year it wasn’t an easy game.”
Although Cook is excited to be moving on to the quarterfinals, if he had is way the Pioneers wouldn’t be facing Iowa.
“I’d much rather face someone that doesn’t know us very well than to face a team we’re familiar with,” Cook said. “When you play someone that you know fairly well, you’re wondering what will be different. I like teams to have to figure out what we’re doing and I like for us to have to figure out what they are doing. At this point in the season, I’d prefer we’d be playing someone different.”
Against St. Charles, the Pioneers enjoyed solid performances from fullback Austin Thibodeaux and quarterback Brad Stoma en route to claiming the 20-point road victory. Thibodeaux rushed for a game-high 91 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries, while Stoma completed 12-of-15 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown.
“We threw the ball very well,” Cook said. “Brad made several big throws against St. Charles that helped us to convert several third downs. Austin really did a great job of running the football as well. It’s not like we just moved the ball up and down the field against them, but offensively we did a good job.”
Defensively, the Pioneers were equally as successful as they held the defending state champs to 128 yards of total offense; 75 of which came through the air.
“Defensively we played really well,” Cook said. “We held them to under 150 yards of total offense and only eight first downs, so that’s pretty good. They really had a hard time running the football against us. I’m really happy with the way that we played.”
Follow assistant sports editor Eric Narcisse on Twitter @tdanarcisse.