FOOTBALL: Notre Dame Prep tames Gabriel Richard for 17th straight regular season win
PONTIAC — There’s several ingredients that goes into along winning streak. Whatever the secret recipe, there’s no doubt Pontiac Notre Dame Prep football is on a roll. After opening the 2010 season 0-5, NDP closed that campaign with four straight wins, won all nine of its regular season games last season and have opened the 2012 campaign with four more wins to add to the streak — which is now at 17 straight regular season victories. The latest came Friday at home in a 28-16 victory over Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard in the CHSL-AA Division opener for both teams.
“It starts that we have great kids and we have some great coaches,” smiled Notre Dame Prep coach Kyle Zimmerman. “We have a great atmosphere here and there’s no place I would rather be.” NDP defeated Ann Arbor Richard twice last season en route to the AA Division and Prep Bowl championship. Gabriel Richard returned most of its team and was the preseason pick to win the league title. NDP proved otherwise. Sophomore Anthony Gunn picked off two passes with eight tackles and hauled in four catches for 79 yards with two scores for Notre Dame Prep, which defeated Richard for the fourth straight time.
“We have a lot to prove,” said Gunn, a transfer from Ortonville Brandon. “We have a lot of first year starters and we’re all doing the job. When we all do our part, we can win football games.” Leading 21-10 entering the fourth quarter, sophomore Anthony Gunn’s 40-yard interception return down to the Gabriel Richard 39 yard line set up the back-breaking drive. Two plays later, Johnson scampered down the right side 39 yards for the touchdown and an 18-point lead at 28-10 with 5:16 to go. AAGR’s Ashton Hundley was able to chew into that lead one last time when he broke free down the right side for a 52-yard TD sprint with 4:48 remaining. The conversion failed.
Notre Dame Prep shut the door on Richard down the stretch. The Fighting Irish front seven put pressure on the Gabriel Richard offense the whole night. Gabriel Richard finished with 220 total yards, but 102 yards came on two plays. “Our defense did a great job and the defensive coaches had a great game plan,” offered Zimmerman. “I thought we did a nice job containing them for the most part. We gave up a couple of big plays.”
Notre Dame Prep came out of the gate and scored on its first two drives of the contest. The first was Joe Kutil’s 19-yard TD strike to Gunn with 7:41 left in the first quarter. NDP struck again on its next drive, when Kutil found junior Jermaih Johnson for a 34-yard pass up the middle with 3:23 left in the opening quarter. The Fighting Irish scored on its fourth possession of the contest, this time with 5:07 left in the second quarter. Johnson scampered in from 5-yards out after Gabriel Richard jumped offsides on a missed field goal attempt. Junior Taylor Timko nailed all three extra points as part of the 21-7 lead and later booted another extra point in the final quarter.
Gabriel Richard was able to crawl back into the game when Ryan Ferris returned a Kutil interception to the 50 and Joseph Kendzicky’s 50-yard heave to Blaise Sterns with 43.7 seconds was caught just before the goal line and Sterns ran it in for the score. Stevie Tracy nailed a 33-yard field goal in the third quarter to account of Gabriel Richard’s other points. Johnson finished with 188 yards rushes for 23 rushes. Kutil was 14-for-17 for 116 yards and one passing touchdown for Notre Dame Prep. Kendzicky was 8-for-20 for 102 yards for Gabriel Richard. Hundley had 118 yards on 16 carries.
BOX SCORE PONTIAC NOTRE DAME PREP 28, ANN ARBOR GABRIEL RICHARD 16 SCORE BY QUARTERS PNDP 14 7 0 7 28 AAGB 0 7 3 6 16 SCORING PLAYS First Quarter PNDP: Anthony Gunn 19-yard pass from Joe Kutil (Taylor Timko kick) (7:41 1st) PNDP: Jermaih Johnson 34-yard pass from Kutil (Timko Kick (3:23 1st) Second Quarter PNDP: Johnson 5-yard run (Timko kick) (5:07 2nd) AAGR: Blaise Sterns 50-yard pass from Joseph (Stevie Tracy kick) (0:32.7 2nd) Third Quarter AAGR: Tracy 33-tard field goal (6:53 3rd) Fourth Quarter PNDP: Johnson 30-yard run (Timko kick) (5:16 4th) AAGR: Ashton Hundley 52-yard run (pass failed) (4:48 4th) RECORDS — Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, 4-0,1-0 CHSL-AA Division; AA Gabriel Richard 3-1, 0-1.
(Dan Stickradt is Senior Editor for Digital Daily www.northoaklandsports.com and The Real Deal sports and coupons magazine, as well as a freelance writer for multiple media outlets, including State Champs! High School Sports Show website. He is a 20-year veteran sports journalist based in Oakland County, Mich. He can be reached by email at [email protected] Follow on Twitter @LocalSportsFans.)