This moving-up-to-Division II thing doesn't sound so bad now.
Notre Dame Prep is now a winner in three straight games and, for the third straight time, the Saints were awfully impressive, thumping Tempe McClintock, 41-10, at Scottsdale Community College on Friday.
After getting dismantled, 59-7, by Scottsdale Chaparral three weeks ago, Notre Dame has beaten Shadow Mountain, 35-14, crushed Cave Creek Cactus Shadows, 41-14, and then overwhelmed the Chargers.
Things are coming together just in time for the playoffs although they may have a hard time getting to the postseason. The Saints (5-4) are on the outside looking in right now, but another win to close out the season next week against Horizon may make the difference in getting into the 16-team tournament. Not bad for a team that started the season 2-4.
"I'm saying we've got a chance," Notre Dame's interim coach Gary Gregory said. "But we can't worry about that until next Friday night."
On this night, the Chargers (3-6) could not stop the power running game of the Saints. Behind a bigger and more physical offensive line, fullback Nick Cole ran around and through the McClintock defense. The junior came into the game needing just 67 yards to go over 1,000 for the season. He had 100 yards by the end of the first quarter as Notre Dame built a 21-3 lead.
"That is a good feeling," Cole said.
He finished the game with 214 yards on 18 carries.
While he was moving the Saints up and down the field it was quarterback Jordan Gehrke who was getting Notre Dame in the end zone. He was a picture of perfection in the first half for the Saints, completing all nine of his passes for 158 yards. He threw two touchdown passes to Andrew Thomas, one to tight end Grant Martinez and then rushed for another score.
Cole, even though he was doing most of the work, had no problem with his teammates finding the end zone.
"This is a team game. It's not about individuals," Cole said.
Cole and the rest of the starters spent most of the second half as spectators, watching their backups get a chance to get on the field.
The Chargers' offense had its moments as they moved the football enough to get 15 first downs. But McClintock usually bogged down in Notre Dame territory. The one touchdown came when backup quarterback R.J. Rhiner found Preston Ryan on a 3-yard scoring pass in the third quarter.