The Notre Dame Knight football team is in Bastrop, getting set for Thursday's TAPPS Division III State Championship game.
The Knights (9-2) are looking to do something a team from Wichita Falls hasn't done in a long time. The last state title for a city football team was the WFHS Coyotes' last one, back in 1969!
To do it, they'll have to beat a team with a decided home advantage, nearby San Marcos Hill Country!
ND Coach Don Carlson described the Rams (11-1) as "predominantly a run-oriented team."
"They run it a lot," agreed senior Skyler Whitten, our Texas Ford Player of the Week from Week 11. "They're physical, they're big."
That may actually be good news for the Knights, who just beat one of the best ground games in TAPPS last week, Granbury North Central Texas Academy.
But that win meant even more for the Knights, because it avenged one of their two losses on the season.
"We were mercy-ruled," Coach Carlson recalled. "It was 96 to 50."
That loss was a turning point for Notre Dame.
"After getting 45'd, and since I've been here my sophomore year, never being 45'd, we knew we had to step it up then," said senior captain Jake Abernathy. "And obviously our play has shown, because we've gone 5 straight [wins]."
"It was a wake-up call," Coach Carlson said. "It was a humbling experience, but our kids grew from it, and I think they're a better football team because of those two losses."
"We felt just devastated," Whitten said. "And then after that loss, to figure out we were going to play them again, we just kinda learned from what we didn't do, and what we did wrong, and just improved on that."
Now they hope to use the lessons they learned from NCTA, to beat Hill Country.
"They're just a physical team," Abernathy said. "I mean, physical and big. But we're physical and fast, so we'll see what happens."
The #2 Knights and #4 Rams will face off Thursday morning at 11 a.m. at Bastrop Memorial Stadium. The Knights will be the visiting team.