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Notre Dame entered this football season with expectations of a state championship and was the top-ranked team in Division II-AA after an opening win over Central in August.

Six weeks later, coach Charles Fant is not sure he will have enough players to field a scheduled junior varsity game Monday afternoon.

The M*A*S*H unit that is the Fighting Irish team fell to 2-4 for the season and 1-3 in East Region play with a 26-6 loss Friday night to Christian Academy of Knoxville, spoiling homecoming at Notre Dame. The Irish likely will have to win their last two region games to have a chance to qualify for the state playoffs.

"Sometimes, we feel like Job and wonder, 'Why, Lord?'" Fant said. "But just like Job, you have to have the faith to go through these trials and tribulations because they have a purpose. We might not see it on the scoreboard, but somewhere down the road going through this will pay off for all of us."

Notre Dame lost its seventh starter in six games to injury Friday night when middle linebacker and quarterback Dallas Brown hurt his shoulder. The Irish entered the game down six starters, including talented running back Jeffrey Watkins Jr. The senior had accumulated 608 yards and 11 touchdowns before a shoulder injury two weeks ago.

"It seems like when Jeffrey went down, it has just been all downhill since then," Fant said.

Notre Dame, which dressed only 32 players for the game, has lost four starting defensive backs and its starting left guard in addition to Brown and Watkins.

Notre Dame took the opening kickoff and went 80 yards in nine plays with junior running back George Fillauer getting 68 of those yards on six carries, including a 27-yard touchdown run that made the score 6-0 after a failed extra point. CAK scored the next 26 points.

CAK (6-1, 2-1) led 20-6 at halftime and kicked two field goals in the second half.

"You know, we still believe we can win, and it showed with how hard we fought tonight," Fant said. "We need some good things happen to us, and it's just not happening for us right now."

CAK quarterback Ryan Degges took full advantage of the injury-ravaged secondary, throwing for 268 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a touchdown. The Warriors outgained the Irish 341-169.

Contact Davis Lundy at sports@timesfreepress.com.

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