Pios go undefeated for state championship

Pios go undefeated for state championship


Pios go undefeated for state championship


The Notre Dame Pioneers celebrate following their 13-3 victory over Riverside Academy in the LHSAA Division III State Final game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La., Friday, Dec. 4, 2015.

The Notre Dame Pioneers celebrate following their 13-3 victory over Riverside Academy in the LHSAA Division III State Final game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La., Friday, Dec. 4, 2015.

While Notre Dame may have won its fifth state championship thanks to a monumental game long effort from its defense, it was 20 seconds of offensive brilliance that changed the game for the Pios.

After being shut down for the entire first half, the Pios’ offense erupted in the final two minutes of the first half and Notre Dame went on to beat Riverside 13-3 in the LHSAA Division III state championship game Friday afternoon.

“To get the points right before the half, we had one spurt in the game and got ahead,” said Notre Dame coach Lewis Cook. “It’s a credit to the heart, desire and will of these guys cause there was nothing going our way offensively.”

The points came after Notre Dame took over inside its own territory with less than two minutes remaining in the first half and converting a fourth and short with the oldest trick in the book.

The Pios lined up in their typical short-yardage package with senior Hayden Bourgeois lined up in the backfield and induced a Rebel defender to jump offside with a hard count and get the first down.

Cook said there was no play called.

If the Rebels hadn’t of jumped offside the Pios would have happily punted and tried to get to halftime only down by three points after several mishaps, two blocked punts and a fumble, had given the Rebels several opportunities to blow the game open.

But the first down gave the Rebels confidence and on the ensuing play, Cook went for the jugular.

The Pios ran a reverse to senior Adam Berken, but in the backfield Berken pulled up and lofted a pass down field to fellow senior receiver Boedy Borill for a 55-yard gain down inside the red zone.

“Berken was a quarterback for two years and then we moved him out to wide receiver,” Cook said. “And we kind of felt bad because we didn’t throw the ball a lot throughout the season and I know it’s kind of tough on receivers to block every play.

“I told Adam one day, I said, ‘I’m telling you, at some point during this season you’ll make a big play for us, just keep hanging in there.’”

Cook said the reverse pass is something the Pios had worked on throughout the season and used before to get big plays.

With all the momentum against them and against one of the best defenses they’ve seen all season, Cook said they needed a spark so they turned to the play.

“I felt we would have to do something against these guys, because they were pretty dang good,” Cook said. “Sometimes you run those things and it doesn’t go your way and it looks pretty bad, so I’m happy that it didn’t.”

Senior quarterback Joe Faulk capped the drive off with a 3-yard toss to Ethan Smith to give the Pios a 6-0 lead after a missed extra point, with what looked like the last action before halftime.

The Pios would have been happy heading into halftime at that point, but forced a fumble on the kickoff return and took over at Riverside’s 28-yard line with less than 30 seconds remaining before halftime.

“The last 30 seconds of the first half (I can’t explain it), I thought going in if we could get to 21 points that we’d have a good chance,” We didn’t get 21, but I didn’t expect to hold them out of the end zone either.”

With only a limited amount of time, Cook said he knew the Pios would have to take a shot deep and hope they could either score a touchdown or spike it at the goal line to run another play and get points.

That’s when Faulk and Borill stepped up for the biggest play of the game.

After struggling for most of the half, Faulk had only 11 yards passing and an interception up to that point, he lofted a beautifully thrown pass to the Borill at the goal line and the receiver dotted his right foot in the end zone to complete the 28-yard touchdown pass and give the Pios a 13-3 lead.

“You just have to not let anything phase you and look forward to the next play,” Faulk said. “You just try not to think about the past at all and that’s what I tried to do.”

“It’s overwhelming. It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had in my entire life. It’s what you dream of as kid and it’s what we’ve worked for our entire time at Notre Dame.”

Borill said when he came down he wasn’t sure if it was a touchdown or not, but when he looked at the ref he knew.

“I just looked up and saw it was a touchdown,” Borill said. “I didn’t really know where my feet were at the time, but I was happy.

“We always have confidence in Joe and know he’s going to put the ball where it needs to go. We never doubt him.”

Cook said no matter the outcome of the game, he wouldn’t be disappointed in a group that had worked so hard to get to this point in the season.

If anything, he just wanted the season to keep going.

“My first thought is what I told the guys this morning after breakfast,” Cook said. “The only disappointment I was going to feel after this game, win or lose, was not being on the practice field with these guys next week.

“I could tell from day one with the look in their eyes. This was their mission. We started the journey and I’m just very thankful and very happy for them that they completed their mission.”


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