State Champion Football Team Not Dwelling on Past


Michael DeLeers, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

The start of a new school year usually means a few things at Notre Dame Academy: Konop lunches, visiting with friends and Triton football.

At Notre Dame, the students bleed green and blue for the football team, and for good reason; the Tritons are state champions in Division 3 football. This feat has left some pretty big shoes to fill, but the returning state champions aren’t looking to dwell on the past.

Senior quarterback Johnny Santaga plans on looking forward instead of backwards. Santaga feels that “the team this year has no expectations” and is more focused on the “week-to-week” play of the Tritons, not on the future or the past.

Senior running back Nate Ihlenfeldt also is not one to look back.

“It’s a new year, they have (class of 2016) left us some pretty big shoes to fill, but we’re ready to give it a shot of our own,” he said.  As far as expectations go, Ihlenfeldt hopes the Tritons “do the best that our team is capable of doing.”

Santaga and Ihlenfeldt both agree that the team success of the Tritons this year is up to the team, and not an individual aspect of the team. This means hard work from every member of the team, including senior lineman Clayton Lisowski who feels that the Tritons worked hard over the entire offseason: “We grinded this offseason, that’s for sure.”


The dedication of the Tritons is in part due to the class of 2016 who, Santaga says, “left us with a great work ethic in the weight room and on the field.”

This is an example of the class-to-class chemistry and mutual respect that the classes shared last year. Santaga hopes to replicate that chemistry this year with things like the Triton football annual car wash.

Team chemistry is a major factor to any team and could prove to be disastrous if the Tritons cannot recreate the chemistry from last year.

Along with faltering team chemistry, injuries could also be a detriment to success. “Our team is not deep in many positions,” explained Santaga.

As week three of the football season rolls around, the Tritons are now 2-0 and showing no signs of slowing down. It appears Santaga and Ihlenfeldt have the right mindset, which luckily for Notre Dame, leaves us with some exciting football and a potential back-to-back state championship.


All photos by Molly Markland