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MEN’S INTERHALL GOLD LEAGUE:’Battle for the Chapel’ anticipated

Tom Dorwart, Jim Brady and James Fegan | Friday, September 30, 2005

Their dorms are connected. They share a chapel. And last interhall season, they almost finished in a tie.

Now, in a watershed matchup in the gold league, one of them can put themselves in the thick of the title race, while the other will likely fall behind.

Keenan, the reigning interhall champions, and Stanford, a solid team that hasn’t made the playoffs in three years, clash Sunday at 1 p.m. at Riehle Field in a North Quad rivalry matchup.

“This is pretty much do-or-die,” Keenan senior captain and lineman Vince Lyzinski said.

“You never know if 2-2 is going to get you in the playoffs, but at 3-1, we could control our own destiny,” he said, referring to his team’s 1-1 record.

Last Sunday the Knights fell 13-8 to the Dillon Big Red, their first loss in two years. Keenan feels it cannot afford to lose again and tumble in the standings.

The Griffins’ senior captain and cornerback Phil McNicholas is quite aware of his opponent’s precarious situation.

“If there’s a game that we really want to win this year, it’s definitely this one,” he said. “We haven’t made the playoffs in three years, so being 2-0, having beaten two of the toughest teams in the league in Dillon and Keenan would definitely put us in a really good position to maybe lead our division going into the playoffs.”

The Griffins had a bye last Sunday but beat Dillon 6-2 in the season opener.

If there’s any doubt there will be some helmet-popping, trash-talking football going on in Sunday’s neighborly battle, look no further than last year’s score and this week’s practices. Last season, the Knights beat the Griffins in a 7-6 slugfest. It was physical, so this week’s practices – for both teams – have been just that.

“We had much more intense practices [this week],” Lyzinski said. “I thought, last week, one of our problems was the intensity wasn’t there [against Dillon]. So this week, we definitely focused on team intensity and getting back to the fundamentals.”

The Griffins weren’t pleased with their week one offensive performance, so they got back to the basics as well.

“We worked on our offense to try to bring that together a lot more,” McNicholas said. “The first game, we only got one touchdown, so we put in a few new plays.

“We tried to learn from our experiences the first game, and [we can] hopefully put a few more points on the board.”

Keenan is led by Lyzinski and senior quarterback Rob Coly.

For the up-and-coming Griffins, McNicholas directs the defense along with fellow senior Eddie Medrick, while freshman quarterback Brian Salvi guides the offense. Against Dillon, McNicholas had three interceptions. Medrick, who plays defensive tackle, has been a constant force for the staunch Griffin defense.

He’s a senior, and he’s been the anchor of our D-line for three years,” McNicholas said. “He’s just a huge force up the middle.”

Both squads acknowledge they’ll have to play nearly flawless football to win this weekend’s crucial game.

“We’re definitely not taking them lightly,” Lyzinski said. “They have a very good team. Last year they played us very, very hard. We’re looking at them as a very good team. We’re going to have to be at the top of our game to win this one.”

Dillon vs. Alumni

A neighborhood rivalry resumes Sunday as Dillon and Alumni square off at 3 p.m. at Riehle Field in men’s Gold league action.

Dillon enters game with a record of 1-1 and is looking to put all the pieces together against Alumni.

While Dillon captain Kenny Cushing has been happy with the team so far and is looking to build on its past success, he also thinks it can take the play to another level.

“Our team has been great Monday through Saturday, but we have not been putting it together on Sunday,” Cushing said.

Cushing also said he thought the key for this game and the overall strength of Dillon is strong communication and a solid rushing game.

Both factors will lead to the efficient play the Big Red prides itself on.

Alumni enters the game hungry after a tie and loss in its first two games of the season.

Captain Ryan McGettigan and senior Andrew Breslin both understand the importance of this game as a classic rivalry.

McGettigan also thought rushing was going to be a key factor.

“Dillon has a good running game, but we think that we match up against them well,” he said.

On offense, Alumni plans to establish the run and use it to set up the passing game. The Dawgs believe success on the ground will lead to points on the scoreboard.

Morrissey vs. Keough

There is a high chance of a defensive struggle breaking out Sunday as Morrissey faces off with Keough at 2 p.m. at Riehle Field. Both teams are defensive-minded, and neither has eclipsed ten points in a game thus far.

Morrissey is looking to capitalize on the momentum it established by defeating O’Neill 6-2 last week in a game in which it completely shut down the Angry Mob’s offense.

“Our defense as a unit stepped up last week and made big plays for us,” captain and starting running back Nick Klein said.

Morrissey does not depend at all on flashiness or a high-flying passing game. Instead it relies on a ball-control attack aided by a Klein-led rushing attack.

The rushing game was effective against O’Neill. The Manor’s offense was able to score a touchdown when their defense forced a turnover deep in Angry Mob territory. Morrissey believes it can shut down Keough if the offense succeeds in not beating itself.

Keough, after being manhandled 14-0 by defending champion Keenan in its opener, let a special teams blunder get between them and a victory last week in a 9-9 tie with Alumni.

The Kangaroos’ 5-2 defense was dominant last week, and it needs to be again to carry Keough to victory.

The Kangaroos’ offense consists of a steady diet of freshman running back Mike Anello, a workhorse with big-play ability which he displayed in an 80-yard touchdown run against Alumni.

The Kangaroos risk being one-dimensional in their devotion to Anello, but they depend on their offensive line, led by “Big” Rob Holman, to be physically dominant.

The game could be a must-win for Keough if it wants to avoid missing the playoffs again this year.