Notre Dame Building on Last Year

The Notre Dame Knights have a young but experienced team back this year, as they look to make some noise in District 1 of TAPPS 6-Man D-2.

Now, it's back to work.

Notre Dame had a playoff team last year, winning six games despite a shortened regular-season schedule while playing in the toughest district at their level.

"(There's) a lot of competition in our district," says head coach Don Carlson. "I think Brownwood Victory Life and Denton Calvary Academy, they're both ranked in the top five, you know they're going to be tough competition."

But the Knights return five starters on both offense and defense, and that has them thinking that they can, and will, compete.

"That definitely helps a lot," says quarterback and safety Danny Otto. "Because we can just start right back where we ended last year and not have to teach all new players and positions."

"We're returning a lot of players this year, and we've improved a lot over the summer," says tight end and defensive end Tim Ahrens, the lone senior on the roster.

"If we can make use of that, and take full advantage of what we have throughout the season, we can make it to the top of district."

Another advantage of bringing back so many players is that they've had a whole summer to hit the gym, and coach Carlson has noticed.

"We have gotten a whole lot stronger than we were last year," Carlson says. "Our kids came up here during the summer months and they really dedicated themselves to lifting weights, three days a week."

But the key to this season for the Knights will be the defense.

The Knights surrendered over 57 points per game last year, which is high even for typically high-scoring six-man football.

"Last year we gave up a whole lot of points," said Carlson. "More than we should have."

Otto explained: "They were throwing over us and running past us."

And while coach Carlson realizes that scoring is a big part of the six-man game, he knows his defense will have to be better to challenge Victory Life and Calvary Academy for the District title.

"You can't just totally shut down any team (in six-man)," Carlson says.

"But we are going to focus on defense, that's probably going to be our number one priority, and overall I think we're going to have some kids that are going to be able to swarm to the ball and make some plays."

The Knights open the season in Zero Week, August 26th at the Forestburg Longhorns.

Notre Dame took a 74-63 home win against Forestburg in last year's home opener.