Notre Dame’s stout defense will be tested by a U-High offense averaging 42.5 points _lowres

Advocate photo by BRAD KEMP -- Notre Dame coach Lewis Cook Jr.'s plan using a metro/rural break down for the football playoffs as opposed to the current system of nonselect/select has received some favorable reviews.

How’s this for answering the bell?

Notre Dame of Crowley, playing without five starters who were suspended, suffered an uncharacteristic 56-28 loss Oct. 2 to Class 2A’s No. 3 Catholic High-New Iberia.

The Pioneers, who also lost leading rusher Lance Bertrand on their second series, trailed 28-0 after the first quarter 42-14 at halftime and allowed 569 yards of offense.

With the game played on a Thursday, Notre Dame went back to work a day later with the entire team practicing and moving past the episode with the start of District 6-3A play a week away.

“I did a poor job of regrouping them during that week when everything was kind of all over the place,” veteran Notre Dame coach Lewis Cook Jr. said. “We didn’t do many things right in the game. It’s always tough when you have some key guys out, but it shouldn’t have been like that.

“Nothing went our way, and we didn’t help ourselves,” Cook said. “I could tell the next afternoon after the game it was a whole different attitude with practice. They’ve responded well and have practiced well and are playing good.”

That would be an understatement.

Notre Dame — ranked No. 8 in this week’s Class 3A poll released by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association — has reeled off three consecutive wins by a combined score of 156-0 to grab a share of the District 6-3A lead with Kaplan.

Church Point (8-0) remained No. 5 in the 3A ranking with Notre Dame (6-2) nipping Jennings 44-43 for the eighth spot. Kaplan is (6-2) receiving votes.

District 5-4A continued to hold down three of the 10 spots in Class 4A with No. 2 Teurlings Catholic (6-1) pulling down three first-place votes and 107 points, followed by No. 4 St. Thomas More (7-1) with 91 points and No. 8 Breaux Bridge (6-2) 38 points.

Crowley (6-2) received 13 points after defeating Rayne (6-2) 33-21 and knocking the previously eighth-ranked Wolves out of the poll.

No. 3 Catholic-NI (8-0) received a first-place vote and 104 points but trails No. 1 Many (8-0) and No. 2 Riverside Academy (8-0). Opelousas Catholic (7-1) slipped two spots to No. 8 after its 42-26 District 5-2A loss to Catholic-NI, while Vermilion Catholic (7-1) remained No. 3 in the Class 1A poll.

Notre Dame turned the page following the Catholic-NI game, looking ahead to the start of district play and a game with West St. Mary.

The Pioneers plowed through that game 58-0 and have followed that with wins of 41-0 over Erath and 57-0 over Abbeville, setting up the final two weeks at North Vermilion and home to host Kaplan.

Key contributors Bertrand and senior linebacker Dustin Reiners are expected back from injury this week, enhancing the team’s prospects for another deep postseason run.

“We started a new season in week six, and the kids have done well since then,” Cook said. “It’s a means to an end. It’s a process we’re going through, and they’ve learned to take things in stride and get ready for the next week.”