Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep didn’t have to score a high amount to prove why they were the dominant team.
The No. 3-seeded Saints (12-0) made Goodyear Millennium (9-3) looked defenseless in their 14-0 victory at home on Friday night. They remain the only other undefeated team besides Peoria Centennial in the 5A conference.
The Saints were led by senior quarterback Jake Farrell (21-for-28 for 226 yards, one touchdown), two-way threat in senior running back/defensive back Jake Smith, and junior running back Dominick Mastro. Their ground game wore down the Tigers’ defensive line from the first quarter, creating gaps for Mastro and Smith.
“We’ve been working up to this moment the whole year, and we just came out and executed what we do in practice, and it benefited us at the end of the game,” Farrell said.
Millennium senior quarterback Zareq Brown had mediocre production (13-for-23 on 113 yards, one interception), but he met a defense that was twice as strong as his own team’s compared to the 58-7 blowout victory over No. 11-seed Flowing Wells a week prior.
When the Saints came marching in, the Tigers couldn’t stop them on the ground or the air.
The biggest playmaker for the game was one of the smallest guys on the field. Dominick Mastro had 125 scrimmage yards on 23 carries and a touchdown, plus he gave the Saints 15 out of their 21 first down-conversions on third downs.
“Those are mental lapses,” Millennium head coach Lamar Early said about giving up 21 first-down conversions. “We had them at the wrong time. We wanted to get the ball back to our offense but we didn’t execute.”
“The running game was working, it wasn’t really planned,” Mastro said. “We were getting just enough to pop, so we just stuck with that.”
Notre Dame Prep’s offensive line deserved as much for widening the gaps and moving the chains.
“They played the perfect game,” Mastro said. “They did their job, I did mine, and that’s how it worked out.”
“I would say this is one of my harder games and more glorious wins.”
The ground game also had major contributions from Jake Smith, who had 62 all-purpose yards on 8 receptions and 15 carries.
Millennium’s offense limited
Millennium’s offensive attack led by Zareq Brown, senior running back Isaac Oliver (18 carries, 76 yards) and junior wide receiver Kyle St. Pierre (9 receptions, 88 yards) came out with frenetic energy on offense to start the game. However, the Saints nickel defense and strong secondary play took away all the Tigers’ chances to score in the red zone. They had three drives to score in the red zone and didn’t settle for field goals on those fourth downs, but failed to make a touchdown.
Plus, during the second quarter, Brown was sacked on two consecutive downs by linebacker Brock Locknikar and Jake Smith, respectively, on 2nd and 10 at the 29-yard line and on 3rd and 17 at the Saints’ 36. It was a pendulum swing in which whenever the Tigers moved forward, Notre Dame pushed them back with harder magnitude.
“The ball didn’t fall our way tonight,” Lamar Early said. “We had our opportunities in the red zone. We didn’t execute. Couldn’t put points on the board. They (Notre Dame Prep) are a good football team, and they did enough to keep us out of there, but we didn’t help ourselves in the red zone tonight.
Following Brown’s only interception of the game at the Millennium’s own 36-yard line in the final minute of the fourth quarter, the Tiger’s conceded to the shutout and walked off knowing it was the end to one of their best seasons in school history.
“These boys need to be proud of what they’ve done for the school, the community of the Millennium program,” Early said. “They’ve changed the culture there, and they need to keep their heads up.”
Notre Dame Prep advances to face No. 2 seed Gilbert Williams Field in the 5A conference semifinals.