The Pride look to stay unbeaten in senior boys Div. 1 football provincials

The Notre Dame Pride have won their third city championship in the last four years after the Nov. 11 win over the Henry Wise Wood Warriors.

The Pride dominated senior boys Div. 1 football all year long. The 37-1 victory in the championship game Saturday night improved their record to 9-0.

The Pride allowed a measly 10 points all year, and their scoring differential in their two playoff games was 96-1. This was Wise Wood’s first city championship appearance since 2008, but they were simply outmatched by a powerhouse Notre Dame team.

Head coach Dave Diluzio, and the rest of his staff has implemented a winning and hard-working philosophy among the group.

“We are so happy for our kids, they worked really hard for this,” Diluzio said. “We just went one week at a time and the kids really embraced that, and it was awesome to see what they did tonight.”

Notre Dame players and staff pose for a post-victory picture with the senior boys Div. 1 champions poster and trophy.

Photo by Lucas Silva

The Pride jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a touchdown run by running back, Philip Miskin. The Warriors answered by driving the ball down the field, but failed to make the attempted field goal. The ball went through the back of the end zone resulting in one point scored for Wise Wood.

Running back, Tyler Chow, scored another touchdown run for the Pride, giving them a 14-1 lead. Late in the second quarter is when Notre Dame grabbed all the momentum.

Late in the second quarter, Wise Wood attempted a fake field goal play that was fumbled and this resulted in excellent field position for Notre Dame.

The Pride took advantage of this mistake and quickly marched the ball down the field, capped off by a touchdown pass from quarterback, Brett Hunchak, to his brother, Colton Hunchak. With only 29 seconds left in the half, this was a huge momentum swing in Notre Dame’s favor.

Diluzio explained the importance of that play: “Yeah it was huge. They had the fake field goal, we were able to stop it and we had a great drive after. It’s a game of momentum, and we were able to capitalize there.”

The Warriors couldn’t rebound from a 21-1 deficit at halftime, and struggled to move the ball in the second half against the dominant Notre Dame defense.

The Pride tacked on 16 more points in the second half on a touchdown run by running back Brandon Blondeau, an interception returned for a touchdown by Stephen Nagy, and a safety.

Notre Dame’s combination of dominant defense, and a balanced and dangerous offense proved to be too much to handle for the Warriors. Wise Wood head coach Cody Ehrmann wasn’t shy when describing Notre Dame’s team.

“I’ve said it a few times, Dave’s got one of the best teams I’ve seen in 10 years,” Ehrmann said. “They execute, and they make very few mistakes.”

Preparing for provincials

The Pride are set to face Lethbridge Collegiate Institute (LCI) in their first provincial match-up. LCI is ranked No. 5 in the province by Football Alberta.

Notre Dame running back, Tyler Chow, runs the ball in the city championship game on Saturday, Nov. 11. The Notre Dame Pride defeated the Henry Wise Wood Warriors 37-1.

Photo by Lucas Silva

Notre Dame offensive coordinator, Matt Sartorelli, who is described by Diluzio as someone who could be a very good head coach, explained the importance of the offensive line in the upcoming provincials.

“I think for us it always starts up front. It’s starts with our lineman knowing their assignments, and trying to be as physical as they can.” said Sartorelli.

The success of the dominant running game the Pride possesses, begins with the offensive line. Diluzio mentioned after their city championship victory, that his team is very lucky to have them playing for the Pride.

A big part of that lethal running game the Pride have in place is explained by Sartorelli:

“I look at a young man, Brandon Blondeau,” said Sartorelli, “He’s just such an instinctual runner. When he gets an opportunity to make a cut he trusts his instincts, and he hits the hole right away. When you pair him with a young grade eleven, Tyler Chow, it certainly makes it a little bit more difficult to game-plan for when you have two good running backs.”

Both Blondeau and Chow contributed with rushing touchdown in the final against Wise Wood. The successful running game Notre Dame has displayed this year opens up the field for quarterback Brett Hunchak to throw the ball downfield.

Hunchak, one of Notre Dame’s leaders on an off the field, described LCI following the city championship victory.

“They’re a very good team. I heard they’re one of the great teams in southern Alberta, if not the best.” said Hunchak, “Their defense is very fast, they have lots of weapons, they’re well coached, and very athletic. It’s going to be the biggest test of the year for us.”

With a city championship under their belt, and a perfect record, the Pride will look to add a provincial title to that list. Their run will start on Nov. 17 against LCI in Lethbridge.

As far as Ehrmann is concerned, he said during a post-game interview that Diluzio’s squad is the team to beat.

“I’d be shocked if he doesn’t win a provincial championship.”

lsilva@cjournal.ca