Gilbert falls short to Notre Dame on Homecoming

Gilbert fell short to Notre Dame Prep on Homecoming night.

Fireworks lit up the sky for Homecoming night, but it was not enough to propel the Gilbert Tigers to a victory as the Notre Dame Prep Saints throttled the Tigers 49-10 in Friday's matchup.

“We just want to be better than we were last week,” head coach Derek Zellner said leading up to this matchup.

The Tigers, who were rolling during the midpoint of the year, hit a rough patch as they have lost three straight games and seem unable to generate any sort of offense.

The Saints on the other hand have been on cruise control. They came into this game on a four-game winning streak with a 5-2 record to show for it.

A 69-yard touchdown by running back Andrew Vines on the first play for the Saints’ potent offense put the Tigers in a hole they could not get out of.

Between the Saints’ unstoppable run game and hungry defense, they were able to dictate the pace of the game and led 35-3 after the first half.

The second half was more of the same for the Tigers as a 60-yard screen pass to wide receiver Cooper Perry led to a 30-yard rushing touchdown from running back Gavin Smith on the ensuing play. This left no doubt in anybody's mind that the Saints would come out with the victory.

With the homecoming game being marked down on every student's calendar at Gilbert High School, there is a level of frustration among the team that they let their fans down and were unable to come away with the win on such a special day.

“It stings and it hurts more that all these people came out to support us and we did not pull through,” center Carson Bryce said. “It's heartbreaking.”

The player who took the loss the hardest was senior wide receiver Evan Smith. Smith suffered a high ankle sprain two weeks prior against Horizon. He has been unable to play for the Tigers ever since. All Smith wants to do is play football, and feels powerless that he can’t help his team on the field.

“It's just not fun,” Smith said. “It's very emotional for me knowing how much I put into this and how much I wish I could play out there with my boys.”

Despite the disappointing loss, Zellner is proud of his guys and knows they kept their heads held high throughout the game.

“I’m always proud of how the kids fight, scratch and claw,” Zellner said. “We did the best we could for what we had and that is all you can ask for.”

The Tigers also are aware that they did not lose to any average squad. The Saints have been one of the best teams in the state of Arizona for years and there's no shame in losing to a powerhouse school that is Notre Dame Prep.

With two games remaining in their season, the Tigers look to claw their way out of this rut and bounce back against the Maricopa Rams on Friday, Nov. 5.

The Tigers coaching staff had a simple message to its team after the loss. “Keep believing in yourselves and keep fighting.”

And that's exactly what the Tigers plan on doing.

Have an interesting story? Contact Zach Alvira at (480)898-5630 or zalvira@timespublications.com. Follow him on Twitter @ZachAlvira

 

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