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Notre Dame Prep heads to Ford Field to defend 2011 Prep Bowl title

October 18, 2012

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Guys on the Notre Dame Prep football team are pictured at the end of practice earlier this fall. Prep (8-0) takes on Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard (7-1) at 1 p.m. Oct. 20 in the 2012 Prep Bowl at Ford Field.

PONTIAC — When it comes to the ninth week of the regular season, the Pontiac Notre Dame Prep football team is getting very accustomed to making a trip downtown to play at Ford Field.

And for the third time in four years, the Fighting Irish are heading back.

“It’s just great, great to be back there and have a chance to defend that 2011 title,” coach Kyle Zimmerman said. “This is the goal for all the Catholic League teams, and we’re fortunate to be there to have a chance at it.”

Prep will head to Ford Field Oct. 20 to take on Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard at 1 p.m., adding to a growing rivalry that has seen the teams face each other seven times since 2009.

Prep won last year’s Prep Bowl 38-7 over Richard. It was the second victory in 2011 over the guys from Ann Arbor.

Prep also won this year’s regular-season meeting 28-16, thanks to an early 21-0 lead.

“I really don’t think past games or wins matter very much,” Zimmerman said. “I think the bigger thing for us is that our kids have learned how to win and how to play well all season. We’re going to go into this game like any other, expecting to win.”

Prep is 8-0 this year. Since Oct. 10, 2010, it has lost just once in 23 games. The lone defeat was a second-round loss to Marine City High in last year’s playoffs.

Gabriel Richard comes in at 7-1, with the lone setback to Prep.

Zimmerman is 3-3 in six career games against Gabriel Richard. He feels another quick start will be essential, though he doubts his team can jump out by three scores like last time.

Either way, this is one of those games that he and his guys are sure to cherish for a while.

“It’s such a great experience,” he said. “You have to soak it in while you’re there. I mean, the only other people that get to really play there are the state champs. So to go down there and be part of this is pretty special.”

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