Strong Start for NDC
Strong Start for NDC
In an early clash between well-regarded teams in the Midwest, Notre Dame College put Wheeling Jesuit to the sword 59-5 Saturday in South Euclid, Ohio.
The Falcons essentially picked up where they left off in 2015-16, a season where they made the DIAA national final before losing a close one to UC Davis. NDC graduated one starter from last season and the cohesion of a squad of players who know each other well was evident. WJU, meanwhile, has yet to find a permanent Head Coach since Tal Bayer left to take over at New England College. As a result, while the players and interim coaches are working hard, the buildup hasn't been ideal.
Notre Dame College was coming off two weeks of three-a-days.
"We were able to prepare well," said Coach Jason Fox, who nevertheless was without speedy playmaker Corey Graham, who is ill. "We've got a lot of returning players and also a really good recruiting class. We are going to have a lot of guys fight for places."
The Falcons defended well, and were quick to the ball, and that set up attacking opportunities for a fast-moving backline. NDC moved the ball well and punished turnover ball, with Spencer Duncan, Marcus Tupuola, Liam Tipton-Fletcher, Zack Forro, Will Mount, and Joseph Wollerman all scoring. Logan Weinstock and Wollerman added seven conversions.
This is the first outing in an independent schedule for Notre Dame College. Unable to find the right conference to play in, NDC is back playing its own series of games. They worked their way through a very tough fall in 2015, culminating in an ACRC Bowl win over Syracuse which set them up nicely for a run through the DIAA playoffs - they got a berth thanks to their solid results in the fall. The Falcons will be shooting for an at-large bid in the DIAA playoffs again, and will face St. Bonaventure, Navy, MTSU, Davenport, Indiana, West Virginia, and Lindenwood-Belleville before the new DIAA fall bracket kicks off in November.
The returning players will be augmented by the likes of last year's Gonzaga HS rugby captain Dante Lopresti, Penn HS product Bryant Anderson, and Illinois-all-state player out of Mt. Carmel Andrew Guerra. Several freshmen showed well in the 2nd-side game, also won by Notre Dame College.