The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



MEN’S INTERHALL: The Great Eight

Joe Meixell | Friday, October 28, 2005

When Morrissey and Siegfried collide this Sunday in first round playoff action at Riehle South Field, spectators can anticipate a hard-nosed battle between two defensive powerhouses.

Both the Ramblers (3-1) and the Manorites (3-1) rode into the playoffs on their defenses, which made up for low-scoring offensive units.

“It takes us a while to score points because of the style we run, so after we score we put a lot of pressure on our defense to stop our opponents,” said Manor captain Nick Klein, who leads the team in touchdowns.

Morrissey’s defense has handled that pressure better than a Kohler shower faucet, holding the opposition to 26 points and creating crucial turnovers that led to victories against O’Neill and Stanford.

Siegfried’s defense, on the other hand, has been nothing short of dominant. The Ramblers allowed only one touchdown – an 18-yard pass in a week two loss to Carroll – in the regular season and in their last game pushed St. Ed’s around for negative-10 yards of total offense.

“The strong point of our team has been our defense. We’ve only given up six points, so we’ve been pretty solid all year – it’s a solid group of guys there,” Siegfried co-captain Kyle Reis said. “I guess the only thing we’ve been working on is the timing of our offense.”

Like Morrissey, the Ramblers favor a run-heavy offense that eats up clock, but touchdown dances have been few and far between for a team that scored only 29 points in four games. In fact, most of Siegfried’s points have come courtesy of the long leg of kicker Pablo Nava.

“Having him is huge, especially with our offense not doing as well as hoped,” said Martin of Nava, who kicked a 47-yard field goal against Stanford. “It’s nice knowing that instead of just having to go for it on fourth-and-long from the 30, we can take three points.”

Still, the outcome will likely come down to who wants it more.

“Obviously we want our season to not end at this point,” Klein said.

Siegfried, however, has found some motivation in the death of a friend.

“Just this season our namesake Ray Siegfried passed away, and last game we dedicated the game to him,” Rambler Ryan Reis said. “But really this whole season is dedicated to him and we’d like to win for him and the whole Siegfried family.”

O’Neill vs. Zahm

The No. 8 seed Angry Mob of O’Neill (2-2) will try to become the first team to knock off undefeated, No. 1 seed Zahm (4-0) Sunday at Riehle Field in the first round of Men’s Interhall playoffs.

Zahm running back Theo Ossei-Anto believes his team’s unblemished record doesn’t mean anything anymore.

“At practice on Monday, we said, ‘OK, we finished 4-0, but that’s the last time we’re going to mention it,” he said. “This is the playoffs and it’s win or go home. Our record doesn’t matter now.”

“This week at practice we’ve gone back to the basics and went over what we’ve done all year,” he said.

Captain Pat Gourdy seconded Anto’s remarks but was disappointed in his team’s turnout.

“We’ve had a lot of trouble getting people to practice,” he said.

Anto is the main running back and is always a threat to gain a lot of yardage. Against St. Ed’s, he rushed for 175 yards. Quarterback Stan Wieland and receiver Jake Richardville lead the air assault.

“We are very versatile and can pass and run well,” Anto said.

Both Gourdy and Anto said that the main ingredient to Zahm’s success has been the defensive line, anchored by Bob McQuiston.

“If they’re doing well, everyone does well,” Anto said. “I play safety and it’s always nice on a pass play to turn around and see that the quarterback has been sacked.”

The victor will go on to play the winner of Siegfried and Morrissey.

Sorin vs. Keenan

Sorin captain Pete Lavorini is confident in his team’s ability to upset Keenan this Sunday at 2 p.m. in the opening round of the Men’s Interhall playoffs. So confident he stole a page out of legendary NFL quarterback Joe Namath’s playbook by guaranteeing the upset of the defending champion Knights.

When asked if he could guarantee a victory, Lavorini responded affirmatively.

“Yeah, I think I will,” he said. “I’ll guarantee a win this weekend.”

The Otters come into the postseason with a 2-2 record in the Blue league. The team’s two losses came in a 10-0 defensive battle with Siegfried and a showdown with undefeated and top-ranked Zahm. The team started off the season with a close victory over St. Ed’s, sneaking away with a 6-0 win off a 40-yard touchdown pass in the second half from quarterback Stu Mora. Mora’s two favorite targets, Kevin Tooke and Chris Paley, will be expected to step up big for Sorin against the Knights.

The team’s second win of the season was another shutout, as they defeated Fisher by a score of 7-0. With two shutouts and a total of 22 points given up all season, it is clear that Sorin builds it success from defense.

“Defense is our forte, we have brought the pain all year and we are ready for whatever Keenan throws at us.” Lavorini said. The team will need that nasty defensive attitude if they hope to defeat Keenan as its offense has only been able to produce two touchdowns all season.

Keenan has also played solid defense throughout the year en route to their 3-1 record, which earned them the No. 2 seed. The team’s only loss came against the Big Red of Dillon in the season’s second week.

Sorin will need to come out and play its best football this Sunday to upset the Knights and end their hopes of a repeat championship. As far as the Lavorini guarantee, Lyzinski spoke for his team by saying, “We’ll see who guarantees what on Sunday afternoon.”

Carroll vs. Dillon

Dillon will try to upend No. 3 Carroll at 2 p.m. Sunday at Riehle Fields, with Carroll playing as the home team due to its superior seeding over the No. 6 Big Red.

The Vermin went 3-1 in the regular season, losing their first game by two points to Zahm and winning the rest.

“We wanted to go 4-0, but we shook the loss to Zahm off and we’re ready for a tough run to the championship,” Carroll receiver Paul Tassari said. “Anytime you need to beat two big dorms from the Gold division it’s going to be hard, but we think we can do it. We have a lot of momentum and have been practicing all week.”

Tassari is integral to the team’s air attack, with six touchdown catches on the season. Dillon’s Gold League play means its record of 2-2, with wins against Keenan and Morissey and losses to Alumni and Stanford, does not necessarily indicate it is a weaker team than Carroll, which plays in the Blue League of smaller dorms.

The Big Red earned their wins with a relentless clock-consuming rushing game

“It’s going to be a tough task to stop,” Carroll coach John Tira said. “They’re going to score their points and we’ll score ours. Compliments to them and their season, but we think we can hold our own. We’ll be more creative with our defensive schemes, running everything from a 3-5 to a 6-2.”

The Vermin plan to keep Dillon’s defense on its heels with a passing game that was successful in the regular season.

“We’ve had a few interceptions, but some bad tip plays also,” Dillon captain and offensive guard Romeo Acosta said. “Overall, our secondary is as strong as any dorm’s. We’re going to focus on getting pressure on the quarterback and forcing bad throws.” The target of that pressure will be quarterback and captain Kory Wilmot, who tossed touchdowns to six different receivers this season.