High School Football Previews: Notre Dame

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Heading into the final week of 2015, the Irish needed a win against Tucker County to secure a playoff berth. But they fell to the Mountain Lions, and missed the playoffs, finishing 17th in Class A. 

Memories of that loss continue to motivate players in practice.

“We were just so close, and I don’t know if we didn’t have enough to get it done, or if it was just one of those games that wasn’t meant to be,” said defensive end Hampton Haymond. 

Added running back Eli Hesley: “We’re 20-times more motivated than we were last year, because we know we don’t want to go out like that again. We just talk about how it crushed us, every single day, and how we’ve got to keep that drive going and work even harder.”

Entering his 14th season as head coach, Sam Alvaro faces the same situation he faced after his first season at Notre Dame. That year, the Irish bounced back after missing the playoffs by a game and finished 9-and-1.

“I think it motivated some of these kids who worked really hard in the weight room in the offseason, and hopefully it’ll carry over through the season this year,” Alvaro said.

But the Irish will compete this year without the likes of Zach Seibel, Jordan Miller and others who starred on last year’s team. With six seniors back for 2016, the Irish have plenty of work to do before August 26th.

“We lost some key players, starters, on both sides of the ball,” Alvaro said. “It’s going to be tough to fill those shoes. We just have to work hard everyday and try to get better everyday. The nucleus is there, we’ve just got to get a few kids to step in and fill the spots and do a good job, and I’ll think we’ll be fine.”

Junior Ryan LaAsmar will start at quarterback, and he’ll have plenty of tall targets to choose from in Notre Dame’s deep receiving corps. Hesley will also return for his senior season, but while the Irish are set at skill positions, Alvaro said the offensive line will be this team’s most important unit.

“Every single snap starts with the line,” said lineman Alex Davisson. “If we can make holes and we can do pass protection, that’ll open up everything else.”

The Irish will travel to Pendleton County in week one. 
 

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