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FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: N.D. ENJOYS A HOT SUMMER.

Byline: Erik Boal Special to the Daily News

When you've won 22 consecutive games and back-to-back Southern Section Div. III titles, confidence isn't something a coach has to worry about during the summer.

Not that Notre Dame High of Sherman Oaks' football team was lacking in that area following a semifinal appearance at Valley College's Monarch All-Star Challenge and a victory over Long Beach Poly at the third annual Nike 7-on-7 Passing Championship.

Notre Dame coach Kevin Rooney just wanted his team to embrace the challenge of competing against more top competition Friday at the second annual La Canada/St. Francis tournament at St. Francis of La Canada Flintridge.

The Knights responded, convincingly winning the tournament, capped by a 26-7 victory over Moorpark in the final.

``It's not so much winning as it is just competing well against really good teams and guys stepping up and making plays,'' said Rooney, whose team went 13-2 in its final 15 summer tournament games, losing to Mission Viejo and Ventura. ``I'm really happy with the way we've played the past couple of weeks. We're definitely taking strides in the right direction. It was a nice way to finish.''

Although quarterback/defensive back Garrett Green and running back/defensive back Rodney Glass gained much of the attention for Notre Dame at the Saugus tournament and Valley College and Nike events, several other players impressed Friday.

Rooney praised the efforts of safety Drew Abeyta, linebacker Kevin Jusko and receivers Shane Horton, Rashad Kendal and Jess Stricklin for helping the Knights defeat Valencia twice, including 24-13 in the semifinals.

``Beating them once, let alone twice is very difficult,'' Rooney said of Valencia, which lost to Oaks Christian 36-28 in the semifinals of the Nike tournament. ``Not to diminish what our guys accomplished, but I think they were missing some of their guys.''

Although the Knights continued to find their rhythm on offense in July, Rooney is looking forward to meshing his skill players with a strong offensive line when the team begins conditioning in August following the dead period mandated by Southern Section rules.

``Our linemen work their tails off. They're going to be a critical part of why we're successful,'' Rooney said. ``We took off a week at the beginning of the summer, and now we'll take off three weeks, so they can recharge their batteries. We want them come back with their bodies fresh and their minds focused.''

--The mighty Marmonte: Moorpark and Thousand Oaks gave strong performances Friday. Moorpark won its first five games before losing to Notre Dame in the final.

Included in Moorpark's title-game run was an 18-15 victory over Thousand Oaks.

Erik Boal, (818) 713-3607

erik.boal(at)dailynews.com
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 29, 2005
Words:450
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