INTERHALL FOOTBALL: Grit will be on the gridiron
Joe Piarulli, Jay Fitzpatrick and Tim Kaiser | Friday, September 16, 2005
For the Alumni and O’Neill interhall football teams, Sunday at 2 p.m. is the time when the questions are answered, the hits are delivered and practice pays off. It’s game time.
“We’re really excited about getting going,” Alumni captain Ryan McGet-tigan said.
Alumni will field a team which has a fairly even distribution, with six or seven from each year [freshman to senior], including a senior quarterback, but will have to make up for the loss of its starting running back, who is out with a recently suffered broken leg.
“It’s a problem,” McGettigan said.
Despite the setback, McGettigan feels that his team is prepared for O’Neill.
“We’ve won [against O’Neill] both times I remember, so we have a lot of confidence,” he said.
O’Neill, on the other hand, is looking to win its opening game for the first time in hall history, and O’Neill captain Matt Hughey recognizes the challenge ahead.
“Alumni, they’re going to be a tough test,” he said. “They’re known to be tough. This is a pivotal game, it’s going to dictate which way the season will go.”
Last year, O’Neill’s record was 1-2-1, the best record in the hall’s history.
“I think we have a great chance to improve,” Hughey said. “[We have] a lot of commitment from the players.”
O’Neill has only about five seniors, while freshmen compose nearly a third of the team. Hughey feels that everyone has been working very hard to prepare.
As far as practices go, we’ve really had some great practices,” he said. “I think we’re as ready as we can be.”
In terms of equipment, Alumni was in the middle of the pack for pad selection, and McGettigan said that all his players are fairly satisfied.
O’Neill was third for pad selection, though Hughey feels as though Notre Dame could improve in terms of getting pads for the players.
“I think we could do a little better than the 70s hand-me-downs,” he said.
When it comes down to game time, looking like players from 30 years ago won’t be on anyone’s mind. All that matters for these teams is coming away with a victory. Hughey says there’s no question about their objective.
“Obviously, our goal is to make it to the championship,” he said.
Stanford vs. Dillon
Although they take the field as enemies on Sunday, both Dillon and Stanford have the same goal – victory.
This prize remains from last year’s game when the score ended in a 0-0 tie.
“Shutout,” Dillon captain Kenny Cushing said, referring to Dillon’s goal this weekend. “Shutout victory!”
Stanford captain Phil McNicholas had the same game plan.
“We played Dillon last year and didn’t give up a point,” McNicholas said. “Our offense didn’t score in the game, but that should change this time.”
Yet, both squads claim that defense is the strength of their respective teams.
“Our strength has got to be our defense,” McNicholas said. “For the season last year, the defense gave up a total of nine points in four games. Most of our starters are back from last year, but we also added even more talent, so I’m really excited to see how our defense plays this year.”
Dilllon captain Romeo Acosta pointed to his defensive line as the Big Red’s strongest aspect.
And, fittingly, both Dillon and Stanford agree that offense is their main weakness. Although this weakness, they say, is due to lack of experience in interhall football, not lack of skill in the game itself.
“Inexperience is definitely one of our weaknesses, because we have a lot of freshman and new upperclassmen on the team,” Acosta said.
McNicholas has similar thoughts about his offense.
“One weakness might be a lack of experience on offense,” MiNicholas said. “We have mostly a new cast of characters, including quarterback Brian Salvi and running back Joey Benitez, both freshmen. They may be freshmen, but they have a lot of talent and will do just fine.”
Sunday’s game seems to be in the hands of the new offense and its capability to rise to the captains’ expectations of scoring.
It seems that the teams have been evenly matched, and the game could swing either way. Some players crucial to that swing include Dillon’s Lennie Giannone and Dan Avants and Stanford’s Eddie Medrick.
Sorin vs. St. Ed’s
In a highly anticipated opening weekend matchup, St. Edward’s and Sorin face off Sunday at Rihele Field North at 1 p.m. in a battle for God Quad bragging rights.
The Stedsmen, led by captain Dan Ward, are trying to improve on last year’s team that failed to make the playoffs. To make sure his team is ready for Sorin, Ward has been working his players hard as of late, including six practices in the last two weeks.
“The teams are really excited,” Ward said.
For St Ed’s, part of turning its football team around is also building team unity. The Stedsmen had a team dinner Thursday night in order to get everyone ready to win on Sunday.
St. Ed’s hopes to upset the Sorin Otters in a game that Ward feels confident his team will do well.
Facing off against St. Ed’s will be the Sorin Otters. Hoping to build on last year’s semifinal team, Sorin captain Pete Lavorini built a solid team with a tough defense led by sophomore Ryan Bove and junior Mike Godino.
To go along with the strong defense, Sorin promises a high powered offense, led by sophomore Stu Mora and juniors Chris Paley and Kevin Tooke.
“We’ve got a good talented team like every year,” Lavorini said. “We’re just going to going to go out and play as hard as we can. It’ll be a hard fought game between us and St. Ed’s.”
In what promises to be a David and Goliath rematch, St. Ed’s and Sorin will be a quality game to see. The Otters are focused on getting back to the playoffs and this time winning the championship. The Stedsmen are determined to improve and want to prove themselves against a good team. Either way, both teams are ready to win.