CROWLEY — Before Notre Dame’s Division III select state quarterfinal matchup with two-time defending state champion Calvary Baptist on Friday night, Pioneers coach Lewis Cook said he only had one request from his players.
“I just asked them, if we were going to do one thing, it was to out-effort those guys,” he said. “If we did that, I thought good things would happen. Our guys went out and proved it.”
Calvary, the No. 6 seed, had one scoring drive early in the first quarter — and the rest of the game was Notre Dame domination.
Hayden Bourgeois scored three rushing touchdowns, and the defense for third-seeded Notre Dame sacked Calvary’s Jake Bartley nine times in a 28-7 victory.
“It was unbelievable,” Cook said. “They put a good drive together early and, about the middle of the second quarter on, we shut them down. We were in the backfield all night and really put some licks on them.”
Senior Shea Zaunbrecher had a career game with 14 tackles, four sacks and an interception. Zaunbrecher said the game just played right into what Cook and the coaching staff always preach.
“It’s just 100 percent effort on every play,” Zaunbrecher said. “Everybody was just playing their assignments, and everyone played a hell of a game tonight.”
The Pios got two big first-quarter plays in the special teams that led to touchdowns. Hayden Bourgeois returned a punt 44 yards to the Calvary 13, and Collin Kirsch returned a kickoff 69 yards. Both returns set up Bourgeois rushing touchdowns.
“Going in, we knew we had to find plays somewhere in the course of the game,” Cook said. “Our special teams turned the field around for us on a couple plays.”
Cook said the game’s physicality played right into the Pios’ hands. In the second half, Notre Dame began getting John Jude bigger holes in the run game, and quarterback Joe Faulk took advantage on a 30-yard touchdown run. Cook said Faulk continues to improve every week.
“We knew (Calvary) were big and hard to push around,” Cook said. “We weren’t worried about that. We wanted to make it physical, and our guys asserted themselves in the second half and knocked them off the line. The holes opened up a lot easier in the second half and, when that happens, you know you’re physicality is paying off.
“Joe always seems to come through in the biggest games. He had a couple big runs for us, and he was big for us tonight.”
A lot was made about Notre Dame having to overcome the two-time defending state champions, and Cook said he knows they’re a good football team. But Cook said the Pios can hang with anyone.
“The other team is always really good,” he said. “That’s what you hear. They’re a pretty good football team. They weren’t going to come in here scared. But we’re pretty good, too. We just have a quiet confidence about ourselves, and we just go out and play. We have put together a pretty good football team.”