Notre Dame’s offensive line plays well in loss to St. Viator

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NILES — Despite a 21-14 loss, Notre Dame’s offensive line had plenty to be proud of after the team’s East Suburban Catholic game Friday against St. Viator.

“We were solid up front and we did our job in the trenches,” senior right guard Frank Pavlik said of the line’s performance.

The unit played well enough to give the Dons a number of offensive opportunities. Notre Dame had 189 yards rushing and 82 yards passing.

The Dons’ two touchdowns both came in the second quarter. The first was on a 5-yard run by junior running back Quentin Grays, who had 85 rushing yards on the night. The second capped off a drive that took most of the quarter and ended with a 1-yard rush by senior running back Marco Orlandi.

Dons coach Mike Hennessey said he thought the offensive line did a good job of keeping Notre Dame in the game on Friday.

“I thought in three or four of our drives, we really dominated the line of scrimmage,” he said.

Offensive line coach Joe Gale was proud of how his unit’s performance improved over the course of the game.

“We definitely gave it 100 percent effort and that bodes well for our next game,” Gale said. “We’re gaining confidence.”

Pavlik also said he was pleased with how the offensive line was able to “up the intensity after halftime,” and get better throughout the game.

In addition to Pavlik, the Dons’ offensive line has only one other returning starter, senior right tackle Brian Brand. The other three starters — junior left tackle Jackson Delfosse, junior left guard Matt Bernal and junior center Tom Simon — are in their first year in their roles.

Gale said he was satisfied with how the offensive line was able to establish the line of scrimmage on Friday night, and he believes his junior linemen benefitted from the experience of playing in such a hard-fought game.

Pavlik said he’s been impressed with how the new starting linemen have played so far this season.

“[Brand and I] had to spend some time walking them through everything, but the new guys on the unit have been great,” he said.

Part of the reason that the line has learned to work together so well is likely the time the linemen spend together off the field. The offensive line gets together every Sunday to watch film from the previous week’s game.

“It’s all about preparation,” Gale said. “We’re constantly watching film of the other teams’ defenses.”

Parent volunteers also host a pasta dinner for the team every Wednesday, which gives the players a chance to become closer.

“It’s all about getting together and being one team — getting to know each other, love each other and become a real team,” Brand said.

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