Notre Dame Prep and Gabriel Richard to meet for eighth time since 2009
Published October 2, 2013
PONTIAC — They are two teams that share the same nickname.
On Oct. 5, Fighting Irish from Pontiac Notre Dame Prep and Fighting Irish from Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard will share the same field for the eighth time since 2009.
“It’s become a pretty good rivalry,” Prep coach Kyle Zimmerman said with a laugh. “It’s a game we look forward to. I know the same is true for them.”
The Catholic League AA Division foes are set to meet at 1 p.m. in Ann Arbor Saturday. The winner will officially have the inside track to the 2013 Prep Bowl.
“We know who they are, and they know who we are,” Zimmerman added. “It should be a great contest.”
Prep is 4-1 on the season and 1-1 in division play.
The guys opened the year with four consecutive wins before dropping a 36-29 decision to Detroit Loyola (5-0) Sept. 27 at home.
“They made plays. We made plays. They just made a few more than we did in the end,” Zimmerman said of the loss. The Fighting Irish had the ball inside the Loyola 10 before a turnover essentially ended the game in the final moments. “But now it’s time to move forward. We were disappointed in the loss but still have plenty to fight for.”
Gabriel Richard also enters this weekend’s game 4-1, with the lone loss a 40-15 setback to Loyola two weeks ago.
With Loyola having all but clinched the AA Division regular-season title, Richard or Prep can still earn a rematch with the Bulldogs in the Oct. 26 Prep Bowl at Ford Field by securing the division’s second spot.
A win Saturday won’t do that automatically, but will put one team in the driver’s seat.
“They are always a bigger, more physical team than we tend to be,” Zimmerman said of Gabriel Richard. “The key for us is to getting healthy, especially after Loyola. But the big thing could be the team speed we have. If we can hold up our blocks and allow our kids to make some plays, we’re going to be in good shape.”
The success of the teams has served as the main reason for so many extra games the past few years.
Prep won last year’s regular-season battle 28-16, but then dropped the 2012 Prep Bowl 17-12.
In 2011, Prep swept a pair of games, 48-22 in the regular season and 38-7 in the Prep Bowl.
Gabriel Richard won the three games played before that, including two in 2009, Zimmerman’s first year at Prep.
“I don’t think there is an advantage either way,” Zimmerman said of playing so many times. “I think you have to adjust every year with the new kids you have. What is has done is create a pretty cool rivalry. It’s one of those teams you respect, but you want so badly to beat.”