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Dillon defense rolling, posts another shutout in victory

Joe Meixell | Tuesday, October 5, 2004

It’s been two games, and still no one has scored on Dillon.

The Big Red defense, which was expected to be strong but not projected to be as dominant as it has been, posted its second consecutive shutout in a 14-0 victory over the Morrissey Manorites on Sunday at Riehle Field South.

Last week, Dillon tied Stanford 0-0. This week, the offense stepped up as well, posting a touchdown in each half.

Fullback Greg Belatti credits the improvement to an extra week of practice.

“We had little trouble running [the offense] last week. It was first game jitters,” he said. “We had a chance to figure out what went wrong and fix the problems during the week.”

The Big Red’s veer option offense accumulated 94 yards on the ground, led by 76 by Belatti, who also scored both touchdowns.

Unfortunately for Dillon, the victory came with a price. The Big Red lost two starters to injury, safety Erik Rocca and wingback Ben Butwin.

“Those are the kind of things that define a team, how they respond to something like that,” Belatti said. “We’ll find guys to fill those holes.”

Morrissey star halfback Nick Klein had some early success, but was rendered ineffective by the Dillon lead and several long down-and-distance situations created by penalties.

Klein, who rushed for 43 yards on nine carries, broke through the line on several occasions, but was always stopped by the sure-tackling Big Red secondary.

“They have a pretty hard hitting secondary,” he said.

To make matters worse for the Manorites, quarterback Pete Sprietzer and the passing attack were completely ineffective. Sprietzer completed only 4-of-11 passes for 45 yards, with 22 of those yards coming on the last play of the game.

“I’m not sure what the deal was,” Klein said. “Their secondary kept batting down passes.”

The loss marks the second in as many weeks for the Manorites, who in the preseason were expected to compete for the title.

“We’re going to forget about this game,” captain Aaron Ronsheim said. “We can still make the playoffs.”

Although the team’s offensive strength appears to be Klein and the running game, Ronsheim would not rule out surprising next week’s opponent, the Stanford Griffins, with a few passes.

“We’re going to do whatever it takes to win,” he said. “Run or pass, whatever we need to do to win.”

Dillon faces Keough next week.

Alumni 20, O’Neill 0

A two-week layoff didn’t slow the Alumni Dawgs. Sunday afternoon proved quite the contrary.

Led by a stifling defense and the steady play of quarterback Brent Locey, the Dawgs tore apart the O’Neill Mob 20-0 yesterday.

Forcing six turnovers, Alumni effectively prevented the O’Neill squad from moving anywhere on offense. The Dawgs’ defensive line and linebacker corps worked in tandem to shut down the Mob’s running game, while the defensive backs’ blanketing coverage made passing difficult at best.

Alumni captain A.J. Remen liked what he saw on the defensive side of the ball.

“We have one of the best defensive lines in the league,” Remen said. “They make everything easier for the linebackers and secondary.”

Remen made his own contributions on the defensive side, highlighted by a 30-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Alumni’s offense did not let the defense’s efforts go to waste, taking advantage of turnovers and good field positioning to score twice in the second quarter. Both touchdowns came through the air as the freshman Locey hit his mark for scores of 12 and four yards.

“The receivers did a great job today,” Locey said. “They positioned themselves well for the catches. They weren’t perfectly thrown balls, but they made great plays.”

When he wasn’t finding open receivers down field, Locey often kept the ball himself, efficiently scrambling away from O’Neill defenders whenever they were able to flush the pocket.

Alumni’s success yesterday may be due to the extent of its game preparation.

“We scout every team,” Remen said. “We knew [O’Neill’s] strengths and were able to capitalize on their weaknesses.”

Improving to 2-0, Alumni will face its toughest test of the season next week when it squares off against Keenan.

“Keenan has four big running backs and a really balanced offense,” Brent Locey said. “We just need to keep practicing the way we’ve been practicing.”

Keenan 27, Keough 0

Saying that Keenan is hitting on all cylinders might be an understatement.

In their romp of Keough Sunday, the Knights dominated both sides of the ball, tallying up over 250 yards on offense while holding the Kangaroos to only 46.

“It was a total team effort,” senior captain Pat Downey said afterward.

Offensively, the Knights were again led by sophomore quarterback Eric Laumann who threw for 180 yards and four touchdowns.

After both teams exchanged turnovers in the first quarter, Keenan put together a 74-yard drive in the second, capping it off with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Laumann to receiver Dan Zenker.

After a Keough fumble on their own 45, the Knights again struck paydirt when Laumann hit receiver Reed Langton from seven yards out to put the Knights up 13-0 as time expired in the first half.

On the third play of the second half, Laumann connected with Zenker again, this time for a 55-yard touchdown strike. After the Knight defense forced a Keough punt, Laumann found Steve Miller in the end zone for his fourth touchdown pass of the game.

“This game makes us question our pass defense,” Keough senior captain and quarterback Brian Kusper said. “We definitely are going to have to work on our secondary.”

“Keough decided to put eight men in the box to stop our run game, and when we have Langton and Zenker, you can have the ball thrown to them,” Downey said.

The Keenan defense continued its dominance over the gold league, allowing the Kangaroos only five offensive yards in the second half. Senior linebackers Brandon Hall and Pat Robinson led a Knight defensive front that stopped the Kangaroos dead at the line of scrimmage multiple times, including on a 4th-and-1 deep in Knight territory.

“They were just a superior team today,” Kusper said. “They were all over us.”