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Weis gaining respect at Notre Dame

By Brian Howard

Charlie Weis may not be the next big coach at Notre Dame, but he is certainly gaining my respect week in and week out.

Weis faced some adversity in the past week and a half.

The former New England Patriots offensive coordinator spent the early part of last week talking with 10-year-old Montana Mazurkiewicz in Mishawka, Ind.

Mazurkiewicz, named after former NFL quarterback, Joe Montana, had an inoperable brain tumor.

The first year coach at Notre Dame talked with the 10-year-old about his illness and about Weis' 10-year-old daughter, Hannah, who has global development delay, a disorder similar to autism.

Weis then agreed to let Mazurkiewicz call the first play - he wanted a pass right - against Washington on Saturday. But Mazurkiewicz never got to see the play. He died Friday night.

When Weis heard about the death, he phoned Marzurkiewicz's mother, Cathy, who was concerned that Weis wasn't going to call the pass play, but not only was the play still on, but the game was dedicated to Montana.

The Irish got the ball at their own 1 after a fumble recovery and Brandy Quinn hit tight end Anthony Fasano for a 13-yard gain.

Marzurkiewicz's funeral was Tuesday in Mishawka.

Not much has been credited to Weis. After all, he inherited a team that went 6-6 last season under now Washington coach Tyrone Willingham, and lost in the Insight Bowl to Oregon State. The Irish have since started the season, 3-1, under Weis and have a key game Saturday in West Lafayette, Ind. against Purdue.

A win against the Boilermakers would make Notre Dame, 4-1, heading into an off week, before the Irish play host to top-ranked Southern California.

The Trojans appear to be clicking on all cylinders, but could stumble in two games this season - Notre Dame or UCLA. Look out for the Irish against Southern Cal.

If Weis can help Tom Brady pick apart defenses in the Patriots' Super Bowl runs, what do you think he'll do with two weeks before the Trojans invaded, "Touchdown Jesus?"

The Weis story about running the play and beating Washington reminds me of Mt. Zion High School football player Julius Davis.

Davis, a senior running back/linebacker, suffered a career-ending spine injury Sept. 12 at a Bulldogs practice. He returned in time to hop on the bus to travel for Tara Stadium for a Thursday game against North Clayton, but the Bulldogs fell, 22-15.

Mt. Zion rebounded Friday night with a 34-22 win over Stone Mountain, giving the Bulldogs a 3-3 record overall and 1-0 in Region 5W-AAAA.

Davis wasn't just a talented football player, but a very good wrestler.

As a freshman, sophomore and junior, Davis advanced to the state tournament, reaching the Elite Eight his junior year.

More importantly, he was getting looked at by the biggest heavyweight wrestling school in the country - The University of Iowa.

Not to be outdone, Davis isn't bad in the classroom either. Boston College has been looking at giving Davis an academic scholarship.

The Atlanta Braves are on the verge of winning another division title. Are Braves fans spoiled? I mean, the last time someone else shared the spotlight was in 1990.

Much cannot be expected from this team, no matter how many division titles (13 right now and 14 after either Tuesday night or Wednesday) the Braves have won. Keep in mind, no one remembers who came in second. Everyone remembers the winners (See the Boston Red Sox last year).

The pennant chase in the American League is by far the best I have ever seen in years. I look for the Red Sox to win the East and the Cleveland Indians to win the Central.

(Brian Howard is a sports writer for the Daily and his column will run weekly on Wednesday's. He can be reached at bhoward@news-daily.com )