A young Elba/Byron-Bergen team had some lessons to learn tonight, homecoming night, according to Head Coach Michael Cintorino, so he kept his players on the field, fighting until the final second.
Cintorino didn't want the referees to let the clock run down at the change of possession with more than a minute left in the game and the 28-0 score favoring a bigger, more experienced Notre Dame squad.
"What we’re trying to do is get them that experience and really understand what a tough team like Notre Dame, what it takes to get them where they are," Cintorino said. "We want them to understand that they have a little work to do in the coming years to match a team like Notre Dame."
There was a lot of fight in the Lancer's tonight, but critical mistakes and an inability to string together enough consecutive good plays on the offensive side to sustain a drive had Elba/BB fighting uphill through all four quarters.
Trouble started on Elba's first drive when it was stopped short by an interception. On the next play, Mike Pratt had a clear 17-yard path to the end zone. A missed PAT put the score at 6-0.
On its next possession, the Lancers failed to move the ball and a high snap on a fourth-down punt turned into a two-point safety when the punter kicked the ball out of the back of the end zone. That made the score 8-0.
Pratt scored later in the first quarter on a four-yard run, and with another missed PAT, the Irish were up 14-0.
The Irish would score again in the second quarter on a 11-yard run by Mike Aina, and again in the third quarter on a three-yard rush by Pratt, making he score 28-0.
As the game wore on and the Irish showed more preference for the clock-devouring run game, Elba's defense displayed some grit in forcing more than one three-and-outs in the second half.
"(The defense was) very impressive," Cintorino "If you look at what ND has been doing this year, they’re a power running team and they throw quick passes. When they run, both Beau Richter and Mike Pratt are very hard runners. Their offensive line is big and strong and they get a great push and we were able to stand up to them."
Cintorino said he also came away from the game hopeful about his young team's offense, which features a promising junior quarterback in Eric Kowalik and an athletic junior receivers, Tess Schramm and Joe Burr.
"We have some young guys out there and they’re very close to making these big plays," Cintorino said. "We work on it the rest of this season, we work on it during the off season and we come back next a little bit more veteran and we get the job done."
Notre Dame (5-1) Head Coach Rick Mancuso said he's also seen the weekly improvement in Elba, which came into the game with a 2-3 record, and said his team didn't take the Lancers lightly.
"Week in and week out, every team is a test, and they’re very well coached," Mancuso said. "They’ve got a great group of guys in that coaching staff and they’ve got a really nice team. We’ve watched them -- this is the sixth week, we’ve got a lot of film on them, we’ve seen a ton of progress week-to-week. We didn’t come out here and expect to have an easy time, that’s for sure."
Mancuso said he was particularly proud of his offensive line in helping to establish the run game early
"Our linemen did a great job, I thought," Mancuso said. "We’re starting to come around. Those younger kids that started out the season for us, they’re not young kids any more. Everybody is pretty much seniors and four-year players now."
Notre Dame heads into sectionals with a 5-1 record, same as Holley (5-1) and Attica (5-1), who played a nail-biter of a game today, reaching the final nine seconds of game time in a 0-0 tie. Attica pulled it out on a 35-yard field goal by Zack Fleiss, ruining Holley's bid for an undefeated season and giving the three top teams a share of the Genesee Region league title.
Mancuso said he feels good about his team heading into sectional play.
"Our loss last week (to Holley) was very difficult to take," Mancuso said. "I was really interested to see how the kids would challenge themselves this week and get back in the saddle and I thought they did a nice job doing that."
Some of tonigh's stats:
For ND, Pratt had 111 yards on 19 carries.
For Elba/BB, Pete Pryzbl had 9 carries for 52 yards. Schramm, two catches for 37 yards. Joe Burr had two catches for 18 yards. Kowalik completed five passes in 21 attempts for 58 yards. On Defense, Burr had seven tackles and six assists. Brandon Shuknecht had five tackles and a fumble recovery. Tom Fowler had six tackles and three assists.
NOTE: My video camera is broken. I can't get the video out of it that I shot last night (well, I captured some, but only through the first quarter, so it's unlikely I'll be able to post video of this game. I'll have to see if I can get it repaired this week).