Being a team from a powerful region has its benefits. Great experience, great competition and production of an overall better Ultimate program. However, it also has its downsides, like not being able to advance to Nationals despite having great talent.
That was the story last year for Notre Dame Papal Rage. The team finished 13th in the UPA’s highly regarded RRI, with a 39-7 record on the season. However, two of those seven losses came at exactly the wrong time as Rage was downed by Ohio State and Michigan (17-16) at the Great Lakes Regionals.
This sent a talented senior class out in manner that they did not expect.
“We had a good year,” senior captain Andrew Schroeder wrote to us in an e-mail. “But, (we) did not finish where we would have liked to.”
Schroeder and the rest of Notre Dame’s Ultimate program expect to make up for the lost opportunity this year and Schroeder thinks that the team knows what it will take to get them to Madison this season.
“Something we failed to do in the past as a team is to really develop the rookie class on a yearly basis,” Schroeder wrote. “Fo us this year, that means giving them a ton of playing time, which is what you will likely see from us next weekend.”
However, accompanying those rookies onto the field will be a talented group of upperclassmen, some of whom we’ve had the pleasure of playing with.
The first being Schroeder himself, since he didn’t talk about himself in the interview, we’ll be the first to tell you that he’ll be leading Notre Dame with a calm demeanor and by excellent play on the field. We played together with the (in)famous Dragons at Swill in the Ville this past year and Schroeder embedded himself in our memory by locking down LouEvil’s top offensive target and getting no less then three layout blocks against him in the Finals.
The second being senior Michael Banning. Banning is an all around player for Notre Dame, filling roles behind the disc and downfield, as well playing defense on anyone the team needs him to cover.
“The thing about Mike is, there really isn’t anything on the field he can’t do,” Schroeder wrote. “He’s about 6’3″ and 210 pounds but pretty darn fast and athletic. He’s always handled for us in the past but with the depth we have this year, he’s going to be doing it all.”
These two seniors, and a full class just like them, will responsible for embedding Notre Dame’s style of Ultimate into the young, impressionable underclass. That style includes a deadly and efficient spread offense coupled with a hard, stout defense.
“The best part about our offense is that we’re all pretty versatile and can cut or handle,” Schroeder wrote. “Which, hopefully, makes it hard to predict and defend.”
“We enjoy a straight lay your shit out man D most of the time,” Schroeder wrote. “We like to switch it up and keep teams on their toes.”
Both by developing the rookie class and by riding experienced upper classmen Schroeder expects this year’s version of Papal Rage to pick up where last year’s left off, and then some.
“(Our goal is) Madison, Wisco yo,” Schroeder wrote.