2018 Notre Dame Prep football to build on winning season


Jake Anderson

Senior quarterback, Jake Farrell, scrambles to his left

Jake Anderson, Reporter

School is back in session in the Valley of the Sun, and so is high school football.

One high school in particular, Notre Dame Prep in Scottsdale is coming off of a 13-1 season in which the lone loss came in the state championship game.

As week one approaches, second year head coach, George Prelock, looks to build off of last year’s success.

“Our goal is to get better,” said Prelock. “We are a young team. We’re just looking to go out there and compete and get better week in and week out. Obviously, the bigger goal is to form our young men into outstanding citizens that give back to the community.”

Although this year’s team is senior heavy, it will be a new look Notre Dame Prep side, as the entire starting defense and first four off the bench— graduated last spring.

“It’ll be hard to live up to expectations coming off of a state championship run last year,” said freshman coach Parker Zellers, former Notre Dame Prep and University of Arizona defensive lineman. “I don’t think we should expect any less though. It’s a very senior heavy team, so I think they still have the ability to compete at a high level.”

One name to keep an eye out for this season is senior defensive back, James Garrison. Although Garrison was not a starter last season, he was in the top five for interceptions in all of 5A.

“He got a good amount of playing time last year,” said Coach Prelock. “We expect big things out of him this year.”

On the offensive side of the ball, the team will be returning three starters.

“We have more seniors that are also starting that were in backup positions last year,” said Prelock. “They’ve had a little bit more game experience. We’re looking to have a little bit more continuity on offense, simply because we have a little bit more experience.”

Of the three returning starters, most notable is four-star wide receiver and running back, Jake Smith, who has already committed to play football at the University of Texas following his tenure at Notre Dame Prep.

No player will be utilizing Smith’s talents more than senior quarterback, Jake Farrell.

“He’s a big kid with a great arm and is really good at reading defenses,” said Coach Prelock.

The 6’5” gunslinger also has 6’4” senior wide receiver, Zack Gray, at his disposal.

“He’s tall and a nice target,” said Prelock. “He should be able to make some plays for us this year.”

However talented a football team may be, it can only go as far as the offensive line will take it. Notre Dame Prep has two notable offensive linemen in senior tackle, Cale Gregory, and junior right guard, Cade Bennett. Returning starter, Cade Bennett, stands at 6’4”, weighs 295 pounds, and already has four offers to play football at the collegiate level.

Notre Dame Prep contains approximately 900 students.

The team should be 3A due to its lack of student population, however, the school petitioned to be in 5A and after Coach Prelock’s team competed at the highest level in the state, it solidified a place in 5A.

The recently finished stadium, Bemis Field, named after the late Scot Bemis, the school’s very first head varsity football coach who won the school’s only two state championships (and was this reporter’s former teacher and coach) is seen by many as at least partially responsible for the programs’ success.

“Notre Dame Prep always has a pretty good crowd,” said Coach Zellers. “It’s intimidating to be on that field and in that environment. It doesn’t feel like a high school game. It almost feels a little bit bigger than that. We’ve always been an underdog team, but the stadium definitely gives a nice homefield advantage.”

“It’s incredible,” declared Prelock. “It’s awesome. We’ve been blessed to have a really good home record there. The only team that has beaten us is Sunnyslope and we play them the second week of this season. I’m blessed enough to have a lot of success in that stadium.”

Notre Dame Prep will once again have to prove it belongs in 5A, as the team’s schedule this year is jampacked with some of the best competition the state has to offer.

“Everyone is looking forward to this opening week against Betty Fairfax,” said Coach Prelock. “They don’t know what to expect from us because we’re so young. I think people will be fired up for Sunnyslope because they’re a pretty talented playoff team. We have six playoff teams on our schedule from last year that were either in 6A, 5A or 4A, and now they’re on our schedule, so we do have some pretty stout competition this year.”

The team will open up the season in Laveen, as it will take on Betty Fairfax on Friday, August 17.