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October 31, 2021 - 10:59am

As season comes to an end, Notre Dame football coach Zambito has high expectations for 2022

posted by Mike Pettinella in sports, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Section V football.

A tough season marked by key injuries and inconsistency on offense came to a close on Friday night for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish varsity football team, but Coach Joe Zambito said he sees a silver lining in all of it.

“Our guys hung in there and gave them a game when a lot of sportswriters said we would get blown out,” Zambito said, talking about his team’s 22-0 defeat at Avon in a Section V Class D quarterfinal match.

The loss ends ND’s season at 3-6 while the Braves, 8-1, move on to the next round where they will host Alexander. The other Class D semifinal contest pits Caledonia-Mumford/Byron-Bergen at top-seeded Oakfield-Alabama/Elba.

Zambito pointed to a couple of turnovers late in the second quarter as keys to the game, both giving Avon short fields – leading to a pair of touchdowns.

“We had some momentum but those turnovers flipped the field,” he said. “Give Avon credit; they have a strong team.”

Senior quarterback Andrew Roland rushed for both TDs – one from 22 yards out and the other from 8 yards out.  The Braves added a third touchdown in the third quarter to complete the scoring.

Notre Dame gained 130 yards on offense under rainy conditions, with junior Hayden Groff tallying 57 yards on 13 carries and senior Drew Edwards picking up 36 yards, also on 13 carries. Junior QB Jimmy Fanara was 2-for-8 passing for 39 yards and two interceptions.

The Irish defense was led by seniors Conner McWilliams and Edwards with 11 and nine tackles, respectively, while Groff, senior Vin DiRisio and sophomore Ryan Fitzpatrick each were credited with 5 ½ tackles. Fitzpatrick came up with a pair of interceptions.

“Our defense held up well; our guys were flying all over the field,” said Zambito, who said he sees better days ahead for his squad as a result of the experience the underclassmen gained this season.

Along with Fitzpatrick, Fanara and Groff, players returning in 2022 include receivers Jay Antinore, Brandon Carrick and C.J. Thornley, running back George Woodruff, linemen Anthony Fiorentino, Mavrik Hall, Jacob Maracle, Maximus White, Connor Boehly and Joe Trewer, and running back/receiver Bryceton Berry.

"I'm looking forward to next year," Zambito said. "We'll learn from this."

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