CROWLEY — Notre Dame coach Lewis Cook said he has had one crazy week of practice leading up to the showdown Thursday with Catholic High of New Iberia.
The Pios will be without five starters Thursday following a violation of Notre Dame’s personal conduct policy. One who will be absent from the lineup is starting quarterback Brad Stoma, the three-year starter who has led the Pios since his sophomore season.
“All things considered, it’s been a good week of practice,” Cook said. “It’s been giving some other kids an opportunity to play, and we know we have a really stiff challenge ahead of us.”
The Pios turn the quarterbacking over to Joe Faulk, a junior who plays mostly running back for Notre Dame and who Cook said has some experience at quarterback. Cook said he’s used Faulk before at quarterback, but his athleticism is better served in other capacities. Cook said having Faulk under center won’t change too much of the Pios’ game plan.
“Obviously, he’s not a guy with three years under his belt like Brad, so we may be a little more limited with him in there,” Cook said. “Joe has been a quarterback for us before, and he’ll be the guy Thursday.”
Cook said he’s well aware of Catholic-NI quarterback Jason Pellerin and the prolific dual threat he will bring into Garnder Memorial Stadium on Thursday. Cook said he is impressed with what has seen from the Panthers senior quarterback.
“Their offense has been really good, and Pellerin makes things go for them,” Cook said. “He is such a dual threat, and he is hurting everyone running more than he is throwing it. We know that we have to get a lot of guys in the backfield because once he gets rolling, it’s tough to bring him down.”
Cook played down comparisons between Pellerin and Teurlings quarterback Cole Kelley, who threw for 338 yards against Notre Dame two weeks ago. Cook said the only thing Kelley and Pellerin have in common is that they’re both tall.
“We knew Cole wasn’t going to run a lick,” Cook said. “Jason can throw it really well, but they’re running a Wing-T. It’s totally different. Jason is going to run and create plays with his legs whereas Cole is just going to throw the heck out of it. We played (Catholic) last year, and he made some nice runs against us.
“We have to be prepared for the dual threat.”
Cook said playing Catholic-New Iberia this week has definitely kept his team focused despite what could have distracted them. He said the challenge the Panthers will pose leaves them no margin for error.
“They come after you, and they’re a solidly coached team,” Cook said. “They’re playing with a lot of confidence right now. Our kids just want to play challenging football games. They know this may be the most challenging game we play. I know they’re looking forward to it and (the off-the-field incident) hasn’t been that big of a distraction. We’ll be ready to play.”