By Rich Palzewic
GREEN BAY – The high school football season couldn’t have started much better for running back Christian Collins and the Notre Dame Academy Tritons.
After Pulaski went three and out on its first possession to begin the 2023 season, the junior Collins dashed 88 yards for a score on Notre Dame’s first offensive play three minutes into the game.
On the Tritons’ first play on their next drive, Collins darted 55 yards for another score.
After Nicholas Gruesen’s two point-after attempts, Notre Dame led 14-0 not even halfway through the first quarter.
The early scores helped the Tritons (1-0) cruise to a 35-14 nonconference victory over Pulaski (0-1) on Aug. 18 at Notre Dame Academy.
“I lined up as our quarterback (in the shotgun) on those plays,” Collins said. “Our linemen found their guys and pushed through the holes. They were perfect calls for the defense Pulaski was in. It gave us momentum for the rest of the game.”
Notre Dame coach Mike Rader said he couldn’t have asked for a better start.
“You don’t ever think it’s going to happen like that, so when it does, it’s pretty fun,” he said. “The kids executed those few plays the way we drew them up. We have a lot of good running backs, so we have to get the ball in their hands.”
From there, the Red Raiders upped the tempo of their offense and got into a rhythm toward the end of the first quarter.
“We’ve got a new group in there,” Pulaski coach Jerad Marsh said. “Our first six offensive plays didn’t go too well, but we got better — that’s all we can ask. The no-huddle got us moving a bit — we’re always trying to expand the offense. On our first couple of drives, there were some thousand-mile stares (from the offensive linemen), but then they calmed down. I know it’s not a win, but we’ll come back stronger from this.”
Midway through the second quarter, Notre Dame turned the ball over on downs after a 12-play drive stalled at the Pulaski 36.
Seven plays later, Logan Schultz scored from six yards out with 47 seconds remaining before halftime.
After Miles Wippel’s point-after attempt, the Tritons led 14-7.
Any momentum the Red Raiders had to end the first half was quickly squelched when Notre Dame went 75 yards on 11 plays (all run) in the third quarter to jump ahead by two scores.
Collins scored his third touchdown of the night on a 5-yard run.
Senior Ian Blom added a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns from six and eight yards, respectively, to end the scoring.
The Collins-Blom combo rushed for almost 2,400 yards and 30 touchdowns last season.
Pulaski put together a nice drive to end the game, but Notre Dame’s Emmett Hunter ended the night with an interception.
“You know what Pulaski is going to run, so it’s getting the kids ready for it,” Rader said. “Then when they started going up-tempo, it gave us even more to think about.”
In Week 2 Aug. 25 games, Notre Dame hosts Waunakee while Pulaski entertains Hortonville.
“All wins are good are good wins,” Rader said. “The kids can ride this momentum for a bit. We’ve not seen Waunakee before, but they have a great tradition.”