Every day after every one else has left the Notre Dame football practice field, Auston Banks and Ricky Ballard stick around and work on takeoffs, cuts and speed moves.
Banks had a career night Thursday, giving new definition to the term shake-and-bake. He danced to the tune of 296 yards and two touchdowns as the Fighting Irish hung a 26-0 collar on host Boyd-Buchanan.
"He was ready for a breakout performance," Notre Dame coach Charles Fant said. "He and Ballard have stayed after practice and worked every day. He's been working on technique -- reading his blocks and cutting at full speed."
The 5-foot-8, 175-pound speedster (10.58 100-meter times) was more than the young Buccaneers defense could handle.
"My line," Banks said when asked what the difference was Thursday. "We haven't had our full starting line the last two games. The younger guys have been doing well, but the older guys are just more knowledgeable. I sure couldn't do it without them."
The Bucs stayed with the 3-1 and favored Irish and were down just 12-0 at halftime on a Clay Heltzel 4-yard run and his 7-yard pass to Kareem Orr.
"Heltzel has just been amazing," Fant said. "Until this year he hadn't played quarterback since the seventh grade. Before the season started we had him penciled in as a starting fullback and linebacker. But when Alex [Darras] got hurt, he stepped in, and tonight we got the lead and he managed the game. The lone mistake he made, the interception, was an interception when a receiver ran the wrong route."
Darras was injured in the first game against Knoxville Catholic, and a bruised and sprained knee and ankle still had him in a boot Thursday night.
Just as big as Banks' performance was the Irish defensive showing. They limited an offense led by one of the area's top quarterbacks, Jim Cardwell, to 130 yards and 18 rushing yards.
Defensive standouts included Joe Dossett, Brandon harris, Robert Kidwell, Tyler Enos, Josh Russell and Kealey Green.
"Defense is what we really do," Fant said.
Contact Ward Gossett at email@example.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter/wardgossett.
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...