Notre Dame and Bishop O'Byrne to face off for the third straight year
On Nov. 12, for the third time in as many years, the final game of the 2011 season will be determined between the Notre Dame Pride and the Bishop O'Byrne Bobcats.
The two teams last met on Sept. 30 and the Pride walked away with a 28-0 victory. The Pride won decisively just as they had done in their last two city finals meetings with O'Byrne. Prior to the Week 3 contest, Notre Dame coach Dave Diluzio had told his team that O'Byrne would likely be the toughest competition they would face all year.
Now, in the game that will decide Division 1 football supremacy in Calgary, it seems the challenge has reemerged.
"Bishop O'Byrne is a great football team," Diluzio said. "They're going to come out and be hungry, so we're going to have our hands full in the next couple of days to try to prepare."
The No.1 ranked Pride come into Saturday's game the heavy favorite, boasting an unprecedented winning streak that dates back to 2008.
Notre Dame's most recent victory transpired Nov. 7 in the semifinals, where they toppled the fourth seed Henry Wise Wood Warriors 24-9. In an exceptionally physical contest, the top-scoring offence in Division 1 football was able to dictate the pace of the game on the ground and through the air en route to their third finals appearance since joining Division 1 in the 2008-2009 season.
"We've still got some work to do here," Diluzio said. "We're taking it one game at a time."
"What happened in the regular season means absolutely nothing, and we're going to have to play very well just to compete with O'Byrne."
Meanwhile, Bishop O'Byrne entered the 2011 playoffs third seed overall and have since steamrolled their way through to the finals. After a crushing 26-0 shutout against the St. Mary's Saints in the quarterfinals, the Bobcats faced off against the St. Francis Browns in the semis on Nov. 7.
O'Byrne, the top-ranked defensive unit in the regular season, stunned the high school football world and kept St. Francis, the second-highest scoring offence in Division 1, off the scoreboard. The Bobcats dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, winning decisively 19-0 and earning their third consecutive city finals appearance.
Lots of improvement since last matchup
O'Byrne now faces a daunting challenge in Notre Dame, but head coach Derek MacCready believes that the Bobcats have improved dramatically since their last encounter.
Since their Week 3 loss to Notre Dame, Bishop O'Byrne has not dropped a single game. The Bobcats have seemingly improved on a week-to-week basis and now carry with them a significant amount of momentum going into the finals.
MacCready, however, knows that momentum alone will not bring him that elusive first Division 1 City Finals championship he has sought since taking up the Bobcat reigns in 2009.
MacCready admits that in their first final meeting against Notre Dame two years ago, the Bobcats were simply overmatched. Their second meeting in the finals, MacCready says, was a different story.
"Last year it took a lot of turnovers for them to establish themselves and win 13-0," he said. "This year we hope to carry the ball a bit better and not turn it over and see what happens."
- By Daniel Ball