GREEN BAY — Notre Dame football coach John Nowak has been around a while, so when one of his team’s starts the season 3-0, he isn’t about to predict a conference title.
Season’s too long and he’s seen too much.
Nonetheless, when you’re a Division 3 team playing in a conference that has Division 1 and Division 2 teams you know the start is a good one.
"We haven't played the toughest schedule, and I would've been happy to be 2-1, to tell you the truth,” Nowak said. “We're real pleased with where we are."
Friday, Notre Dame hosts Bay Port, ranked No. 6 in the FOX 11 Top 11, in the GameTime Game of the Week and Tritons players say they don’t worry about being the smallest school in a big-school conference.
"We really don't think about it that way,” senior Ben Harpt said. “In the playoffs, we're D-3, but during the regular season for all practical purposes we're D-1, so I think we embrace that challenge. We don't feel like an underdog."
Notre Dame has had the schedule in its favor so far. Amongst its three wins, Notre Dame has not beaten a team that currently has a winning record.
Furthermore, Notre Dame and Bay Port have each played De Pere, with Notre Dame winning, 7-0, and Bay Port winning, 40-0.
"It'll be the real test to see how good we are,” Nowak said of playing Bay Port. “I've seen most teams on film and they're the class of the conference. We can't afford not to come out right from the opening kick. If we get behind, we're going to be in trouble."
Notre Dame has won its first three games and is coming off its best offensive game in a 49-7 win over Green Bay West. Junior quarterback Charlie Rotherham threw for 170 yards and the defense didn’t allow a score.
Nowak knows his team once again needs to play well Friday in order to stay perfect. He added playing well against a team he considers the best in the Fox River Classic Conference has value.
"Extremely important (to play well),” Nowak said. “We weren't proud of our performance last year. One of our goals is to show people what Notre Dame football has always been about, so this will be an opportunity for us."
It might be Notre Dame’s defense that spells the difference if the Tritons prevail. In its last two games, the defense hasn’t allowed a point after allowing 28 points to Sheboygan South in the opener.
Nowak knows his defense will be up against it, though.
“When you watch them on offense, it looks like they've been running this stuff all their life,” Nowak said. “Defensively, they have some kids that really get after it."
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay
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