The visiting bleachers are up. Home stands go in this summer.
By then, new coach Mark Nolan will be at Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep long enough to have the players accustomed to his 44 defense, philosophies and goals, as another chapter in the school’s football program begins.
Scot Bemis Field will finally be ready to play games on Sept. 25 for a school that has played its home football games at Scottsdale Community College since the parochial school opened in 2002.
It began playing varsity football in 2004 under Bemis, who led the Saints to back-to-back state championships in 2007 and 2008, compiling a 27-1 record in those two years.
But since Bemis died in January 2012 from lung cancer, football has struggled to maintain the tradition built by Bemis.
Gary Gregory, who was Bemis’ defensive coordinator, tried before Notre Dame changed direction without Gregory following a 4-6 2014 season.
The school had one out-of-state coach hired. He wasn’t able to keep the commitment because of family issues. The next hired coach decided not to leave the East Coast after talking at length with his family about it.
Enter Nolan, who went 49-21 in six seasons leading Regis Jesuit in Aurora, Colo. Nolan is returning to his high school coaching roots in the Valley. He helped coach for a while at Phoenix Brophy Prep.
Mike Brown, the offensive coordinator, is running spring camp, while Nolan finishes out his contract obligations in Colorado.
Nolan will be with his new Notre Dame team right after Memorial Day, Brown said.
Photos: High school football spring practices in Valley
“We’re just hoping we do all we can do to make it to state,” said senior-to-be Connor Stanton, who plays in the secondary along with his twin brother, Spencer.
Spencer Stanton said that everybody’s intensity has gone up just practicing in the spring for the first time on the new synthetic field on campus.
“We’ve got the majority of our defense returning,” Spencer said.
Notre Dame will miss junior linebacker Carson Nugent if he goes through with transferring to Scottsdale Saguaro, which he stated he will because of family and financial reasons.
Nugent is among the top linebackers in the state.
Austin Shirley, one of Nugent’s best friends and a linebacker/defensive end, said that this is still a team capable of making the playoffs.
Moving down from Division II to III will help the Saints, who are running a fast-tempo offense under the guidance of offensive coordinator Mike Brown, who knows the players having coached in the program for two years.
Senior-to-be Bryce Wolfe and junior-to-be Cameron Yowell are competing for the quarterback job with Wolfe taking reps at receiver.
“Once we get the home side in and the lights, with the mountains, this is going to be really cool,” Brown said.
Tyler Taffuri, 6-1, 210, LB, Sr.
Kyle Soelle, 6-3, 205, LB/TE, Jr.
Austin Shirley, 6-1, 200, LB/DE, Jr.
Jeff Kindorf, 6-3, 205, WR, Sr.
Offensive coordinator Mike Brown’s camp outlook
“We just want to make sure they understand practice tempo. That’s a big key. How they’re moving, how they’re reacting. When Coach Nolan gets here, he’ll put his signature on the team.”
Notre Dame has had some college traffic come through with the likes of Michigan State, Colorado and Northwestern among the bigger schools.
Senior receiver Jeff Kindorf and junior linebacker Kyle Soelle are the school’s top football recruits.
“We’ve had some talk to us at school but not a lot look at us at practice,” Kindorf said.
Expect the college presence to take off under Nolan, who was an assistant director of football operations and recruiting coordinator at the University of Colorado, before he began his head high school coaching career at Regis Jesuit.
Aug. 28 at Tolleson
Sept. 4 at Mesa Skyline
Sept. 11 at Prescott Valley Bradshaw Mountain
Sept. 18 at Phoenix Thunderbird
Sept. 25 vs. Phoenix Sunnyslope
Oct. 2 vs. Phoenix Shadow Mountain
Oct. 9 at Paradise Valley
Oct. 16 vs. Phoenix Barry Goldwater
Oct. 23 vs. Phoenix North Canyon
Oct. 30 vs. Cave Creek Cactus Shadows