Notre Dame coach Lewis Cook Jr. says semifinal wins stick out to him _lowres

Advocate Photo by BRAD KEMP Notre Dame running back Damon Comeaux runs past the Catholic-New Iberia defense on his way to a touchdown in a game last month.

When people ask Notre Dame of Crowley football coach Lewis Cook Jr. to reminisce about the defining moments in his distinguished career, they automatically assume he’ll arrive at the three state championships he’s won.

While he’s not about to return any of those magical moments, Cook is quick to point out it’s been the step before reaching the Mercedes-Benz Superdome — something he’s accomplished 10 times — that have created some of his most indelible images during his three-plus-decades long career.

“It’s fun, this is going to be the same thing,” Cook said of his team’s Division II state semifinal at No. 1 University High. “It’s not supposed to be easy. To get to play them — and I know they’re really good — it’s definitely a huge challenge for us. That’s why you play the game: to put yourself in position to challenge and see how you can stack up against such a good football team.”

No. 4 Notre Dame (9-2) represents one of three teams still standing from the Acadiana area that are headed to either the state semifinal or quarterfinal round Friday.

The common theme among all three — including No. 15 Acadiana and No. 1 Catholic-New Iberia — is they will play the next round away from home with the Wrecking Rams (8-4) headed to No. 10 Mandeville (9-3) in a Class 5A nonselect quarterfinal, while the Panthers (11-0) visit No. 5 Newman (11-1) in a Division III select semifinal.

Notre Dame put its game out of reach by halftime, scoring four times to build a 34-0 lead over No. 5 E.D. White. The Pioneers rushed 39 times for 364 yards, with Damon Comeaux (nine carries for 146, four TDs) and Lance Bertrand (nine carries for 123, TD) leading the way.

Moreover, the Pioneers’ defense was equally dominating, limiting the Cardinals to four positive gains in the first half and 109 total yards.

During Notre Dame’s six-game win streak, they’ve allowed 19 points, setting the stage for quite a showdown with high-scoring University, which advanced with a 61-21 quarterfinal victory over St. Louis.

“That’s what you expect for a semifinal game,” Cook said. “I told the kids I’ve stood on the sideline with this program in some very hostile environments in the semifinals against some teams that not many people gave a chance to win against. This will be the same thing.”

Acadiana, the reigning state champion, reached the quarterfinals for the eighth time in the past 10 years with a 38-28 road victory over No. 2 Ponchatoula.

“They were a very good team,” Acadiana coach Ted Davidson said. “We were able to execute the game plan. We were able to keep the ball away from them in the second half with some long drives, and that was big. They’re very explosive offensively.”

Acadiana overcame a 13-7 first-half deficit to lead 21-13 at halftime before the teams were tied at 21 and 28 — the latter with eight minutes to play.

“We just told the guys we were going to take it methodically down the field, see if we could burn up most of the clock and score and we were able to execute and do that,” Davidson said.

Quarterback Kevin Moore threw for touchdowns of 50 and 52 yards, and the Rams amassed 248 yards rushing with Eric Duhon carrying 19 times for 95 yards and a touchdown.

Catholic-NI scored on its first three series and wound up with eight scoring drives in nine possessions on its way to a convincing 55-14 home victory over No. 9 Northlake Christian.

Quarterback Jason Pellerin, an Ole Miss commitment, accounted for five touchdows; rushing eight times for 73 yards and three TDs, while throwing for 64 yards and two scores.

“We stressed all week to come out swinging,” Catholic-New Iberia coach Brent Indest said. “I thought the bye week was good for us, but I was still concerned that you’re going to come out flat and maybe not with the intensity you expect. It came out just as planned. You couldn’t ask for a better beginning.”