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Carroll looks to bounce back against Fisher

John Everett, Tom Dorwart, Anna Fricano and Rama Gottumukkala | Friday, October 29, 2004

The playoffs are a welcome novelty for Carroll, but they are not about to relax now.Carroll finished the regular season with an impressive 3-1 record which included a defeat of two-time defending champion Siegfried and a victory over a very tough Fisher squad. However Carroll heads into the first-round with a bit of disappointment surrounding them. The Vermin lost a chance to finish the season undefeated when they were crushed 34-13 by previously winless Sorin.In that finale, the Carroll offense performed miserably, and the Otters made them pay for it. Two of Kory Wilmot’s passes resulted in Sorin touchdowns. Once the Vermin were so far behind, their offense was forced to pass on just about every play, limiting their effectiveness. Carroll will be looking to return to its earlier, more productive form Sunday. Knott had an up-and-down season, and managed to sneak into the playoff picture at 2-2. This fact, however, does not mean that Carroll, or any other interhall team, can afford to take the Juggs lightly. When Knott plays at its best, they can look like a truly difficult team to beat. The Juggs feature an especially potent rushing attack, with both John Lyons and Joe McCarthy capable of carving through the defense. Quarterback Justin Gillett is also a threat to run, and provides the passing game to balance out the offense.The job of stopping Carroll from scoring will fall into the hands of the very capable Knott defense, led by an outstanding defensive line. Defensive tackle Justin Cheers has been racking up the sacks this season and is a disruptive force at all times. If Carroll hopes to continue its dream season with a playoff win Wilmot’s passes must wind up in the capable hands of the Vermin’s receiver core, led by Kyle Kownacki and Mike Versagli. Knott will be hoping to show people that they are better than their record. It should make for an interesting battle. No. 1 Keenan vs. No. 8 MorrisseyEach sitting at 1-0 at the time, the Keenan Knights and Morrissey Manorites battled in a back-and-forth game full of turnovers, in the second game of the interhall season five weeks ago. Keenan prevailed 18-7. Somehow, the Keenan captain and coach knew his team would see the Manorites again. “We had a feeling we were going to see them again,” Patrick Downey said. The second time around happens to be in the first round of the single elimination playoffs. First-seeded Keenan (4-0) clashes with eighth-seeded Morrissey (1-2-1) Sunday at 1 p.m. at Stepan fields. Downey recognizes the Knights’ need to handle the pigskin much better than they did in their first meeting with Morrissey. “In the first game, we turned the ball over four times. In the playoffs, we know that is just not going to cut it. We got away with it before, but we have to eliminate the mistakes. Hopefully we’ve worked all the bugs out,” Downey said.The Knights ride a four-game winning streak into the matchup, while the Manorites squeak into the contest after edging Stanford for the final spot in the playoffs. “The playoffs are a whole new season. Anything can happen,” Morrissey captain and wide receiver Aaron Ronsheim said. “We were disappointed after the last game [with Keenan]. We’re using it as motivation.” After falling in quadruple overtime in the semifinals of last year’s playoffs, the Knights remember what it feels like to be one game away from playing in Notre Dame Stadium and lose a nail-biter. “We definitely have that haunting us. We were really close last year,” Downey said. “We’ve got a little extra motivation.” While neither team has played for at least two weeks because of fall break, Keenan’s layoff has been three weeks because of a bye before fall break. “There’s been some rust, but we’ve had a good week of practice,” Downey said. “In the regular season, you can afford some hiccups but not in the playoffs.” Both teams boast balanced offenses, and both teams showcase formidable defenses. “Our team begins and ends with our defense. We rely on them. Once we have a lead, we feel really good about our chances. Our defense has only given up two touchdowns this year and no sustained drives,” Downey said. “We’ve been intense lately. We’re flying around,” Morrissey captain Ronsheim said. “We’re a lot better than a month ago.” As Morrissey looks for revenge and Keenan looks to cast aside the frustration of last year’s quadruple overtime semifinal loss, this first round meeting is huge. No. 4 Fisher vs. No. 5 SiegfriedThis Sunday on the South field at 1 p.m., Siegfried and Fisher will be playing in the first round of the interhall playoffs.Both teams have won three games, but each team also has one loss going into this game. Now that it is time for the playoffs, each game is much more important. “We’re trying to get more guys out to practice,” Fisher captain Jerremy Morene said. “[We are] preparing, like every game, to win. They throw the ball a lot, and we’re preparing for that.”Last year when Fisher and Siegfried faced each other, Fisher came out on top with a tight score of 10-7.”They are defending champs,” Morene said. “They are tough competition.  We know it’s not impossible to beat them.  It can be done.”Some of the players on the Fisher team that have been playing well this year are quarterback Pat Gotebeski, running back and linebacker Andy Pfister and linebacker Tom Bufalino.”Our whole offense has done good this year,” Morene said. “[They are] playing like a unit and giving the quarterback time.”This game is a deciding game on who will continue on in the playoffs.  This game is very essential to both teams because whoever loses does not get to continue on.”[We’ve] got to go out and play like every other game,” Morene said.  “Go out and win.”No. 3 Dillon vs. No. 6 AlumniAt first glance, this weekend’s matchup between the No. 3 and No. 6 ranked teams in the men’s interhall playoff bracket is just that – a playoff game. But intangibles give any game a whole new, unique spin. Especially considering the two teams are neighbors, Dillon (2-0-2) and Alumni (2-1-1), heated rivals whose last regular season game ended in a 6-6 tie.In a strange coincidence, the Dawgs and the Big Red find themselves facing each other again on Sunday for the first game of the playoffs. This time, though, the stakes have been raised and only one team can take that crucial first step towards being one game away from playing in Notre Dame Stadium.”Our team is obviously pretty pumped about playing Dillon again,” Alumni captain A.J. Remen said. “It’s always been a big rivalry and everyone is going to be going out there and, on both sides of the ball, giving 110%. Everyone played their hearts out last game and it ended up in a tie. But, unfortunately, someone’s got to go home with a loss this game and hopefully it’s Dillon.”Although Dillon has the advantage with a zero in the losses column, Alumni holds the distinction of being the only team to score on the tough Dillon defense all year. The Dawgs hope to replicate that success for this Sunday.”Their defense is a pretty solid defense,” Remen said. “They’ve been good basically all year. So obviously our biggest concern is being able to put points on the board against their tough defense. And offensively, [our biggest concern is] trying to get our offense into a little better rhythm so that we’re a little smoother as far as precision in running routes and blocking.”Facing a challenge to their defense in their last game, Dillon hopes to set the tone early defensively in Sunday’s game and channel the mentality that has served them well throughout the season.”We’re not changing much from what’s worked for us in the past,” Dillon captain Mike Roaldi said. “We know what we saw from them last time so that gives us a little bit of heads up. But we’ll try getting to the quarterback and get a few sacks early as well as first stopping the run and making them throw the ball, which is what we did last time.”But no matter how much tension there is in this matchup, one simple fact remains. In the playoffs, the win or go home mentality takes a whole new importance, no matter who the opponent is.”Once you’re in the playoffs, that stuff goes out the window,” Roaldi said. “If you can’t get excited about a playoff game, you shouldn’t be playing. We’re looking for a tough game with four tough quarters.”The Big Red and the Dawgs face off at 2 p.m. on Sunday at the Riehle West field.