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Men’s Interhall: High-flying Zahm faces winless Juggerknotts

ANDY RENNER, EUGENIA ALFONZO, SAM WERNER, ANDY ZICCARELLI, | Friday, September 28, 2007

Zahm and Knott face off Sunday at 2 p.m. with the teams going in opposite directions.

Led by junior running back Theo Ossei-Anto, Zahm blanked Carroll 12-0 in Week 1. Ossei-Anto racked up 123 yards and two touchdowns, but Knott will have to focus on the entire Zahm offense if it wants to win.

“I would say he’s a good threat, but not a main threat,” Zahm senior captain Sean Wieland said of Ossei-Anto. “A good passing game always helps to open up the running game.”

Despite the good start, Wieland is not getting overconfident.

“I thought we played well, but there are always things to work on,” Wieland said. “Obviously the goal is to get back to where we were sophomore year, in the stadium.”

Knott, on the other hand, suffered a 21-0 defeat at the hands of Mod Quad rival Siegfried. Still, the Juggerknotts are optimistic that they can bounce back against Zahm.

“We are focusing on keeping everything clean and crisp,” Knott sophomore captain Aidan Fitzgerald said. “The playbook won’t be the thickest, but it will be the most well-run.”

Fitzgerald said Knott will come out fast and furious.

“Our team isn’t huge, but we have some head hunters that will let you know we’re on the field to crack some skulls,” Fitzgerald said.

O’Neill vs. Keough

Both Keough and O’Neill will to try to rebound from their opening-day losses Sunday at 3 p.m.

For O’Neill senior captain Pat Conley, it is all a matter of learning from last week’s mistakes.

“We got beat last week on a few passes [and] our offense was not schemed correctly,” he said.

But the Angry Mob has been working hard to make Sunday’s 8-0 loss to Stanford a thing of the past.

“Our pass defense has been the focus of this week’s practices along with emphasis on cleaning up the offense,” he said.

O’Neill freshman quarterback Robbie Powers will look to have a better chance connecting with junior receiver Nate Forte and junior running back Don Joyce. They’ll have to face some tough competition from Keough, a team that lost to Keenan 12-0 and is looking to redeem itself.

Keough seems to be heading back to the drawing board as well, working on elements that Keenan exploited in Sunday’s game.

“At practice we’ll work on our defense, tackling and pass coverage” junior captain Tom O’Donnell said. “We’re very confident, we think we match up well [and] can take it to them and win the game.”

Fisher vs. Sorin

Fisher looks to get its season started on a positive note Sunday when it faces Sorin at 1 p.m. at Riehle Field.

The Green Wave had a bye last Sunday and will be seeing their first game action of the season. They look to improve on a 2006 campaign that included an undefeated regular season but a disappointing first round playoff loss. This year, there is only one goal on their minds.

“We’re looking to win every game,” sophomore captain Bill Whitaker said. “Including the playoffs.”

The driving force behind Fisher’s march to the stadium is its experienced linebacker corps – including Whitaker, senior Pat McInerney, and senior Tom Bufalino, who Whitaker called “the inspirational leader of the team.”

The linebackers lead a defense that is hoping to make some big plays this weekend.

“We’ve got to try and force some turnovers,” Whitaker said. “That helped us a lot last year.”

The hard-nosed defense will be complemented by a strong passing game led by senior quarterback Kevin Rabil.

“We’ve got a strong passing game,” Whitaker said. “We’ve got some good receivers.”

Fisher used its first-week bye to add extra practices during this week to prepare for Sorin. The Green Wave held an intrasquad scrimmage while the rest of the teams played their first games.

Whitaker also believes emotion will be key in getting a win this week.

“We’ve got to play with a passion,” he said.

Fisher faces a Sorin team hungry to avenge its opening-game loss to St. Ed’s.

“We just weren’t mentally prepared [last week],” Otters senior captain Ryan Bove said. “We got hurt by penalties and turnovers.”

To better ready his team for Fisher, Bove cranked up the heat in practices this week, adding more contact and game-action drills.

On defense, the Otters are led by senior linebacker Chris Schwarber and senior safety Mark Dummett.

On the other side of the ball, Sorin looks to build on a rushing attack led by the tandem of Bove and sophomore Robert Gallic that was very effective against St. Ed’s.

“We need to stick to the running game,” Bove said. “As long as we stay close and stop making mental mistakes, the rest will take care of itself.”

Stanford vs. Dillon

After an 8-0 win over O’Neill last week, Stanford will look to stay hot this week against Dillon at 1 p.m.

The Griffins’ defense dominated the Angry Mob last week, but captain Rob Huth sees some room for improvement,

“We want to do a better job finishing on third and fourth downs,” Huth said. “And we want to force more three-and-outs.”

Senior defensive end Matt Templemire hopes to draw plenty of double teams and wreak havoc in the Dillon backfield. Sophomore defensive tackle Bob Huguelet had a key sack in last week’s victory and looks to contribute this week as well.

Offensively, junior quarterback Brian Salvi will lead Stanford’s pro-set offense. He will again look to connect with freshman wide out Kevin Ritt.

“He has great hands and plays hard on every down,” Huth said of Ritt.

In addition, Huth said the offensive line had improved, which could lead to big holes for the senior running back Tregg Duerson.

Meanwhile, this will be Dillon’s first game of the season. After finishing 1-3 last season, the Big Red will look to get off on the right foot. The team is very experienced, with the majority of the team returning from last year, including junior captain Alex Duffy. Look for the undersized Big Red to spread the ball around and get their faster players out in space.

“We are expecting a very tough game from Dillon,” Huth said. “Our game last year with those guys went down to the last minute and the team expects the exact kind of tough match that it was last year.”

St. Edward’s vs. Carroll

If last week’s 12-7 win over Sorin was big for St. Ed’s, Sunday’s 2 p.m. game against Carroll will be a chance to do something even bigger.

Before their season opening win against the Otters, St. Ed’s hadn’t won a game in three years. Senior captain Ge Wang, a fullback and middle linebacker, said the win was a great way to start the season.

“It felt really good,” Wang said. “It was great that our fans were there, and after the game they rushed the field. I haven’t experienced a win since high school, so it felt great.”

Wang added that a lot of the credit for the first win goes to first-year coach Cameron Hogue and a host of talented underclassmen, including freshman quarterback Matt Abeling and freshman wide receiver Dan Crisman.

On defensive, Vermin captain Kyle Kownacki said he did a little scouting and has a plan for the two freshmen.

“I actually got to see part of the [St. Ed’s-Sorin] game last weekend,” he said, “and I noticed they have a pretty good freshman quarterback over there. Defensively were going to try to neutralize him.”

While St. Ed’s looks to continue it’s new winning ways, Carroll will try to rebound from a difficult loss to Zahm in the season opener. The Zahmbies held the Vermin offense to only 71 yards, a fact that Carroll’s captain, Kownacki, said was as much caused by first-game jitters as it was by Zahm’s defense.

“I’d say we pretty much beat ourselves,” Kownacki said. “Our offense just didn’t execute well and on defense we couldn’t make plays.”

With the Zahm game in mind, Kownacki thinks Carroll will look to come out with a more balanced offensive game plan, using the running game to establish a passing attack. Such an attack will likely be focused on senior wide receiver Paul Tassinari, known to Wang and the men of St. Ed’s as “Tall Paul from Carroll Hall.”

“We’ll definitely be preparing for him,” Wang said. “He’s pretty well recognized in Interhall as one of the better players.”

Morrissey vs. Keenan

Something has to give in Sunday’s 2 p.m. showdown between Keenan and Morrissey after both teams looked dominant in season-opening shutout victories.

The Knights handled Keough easily in a 12-0 win last Sunday, and the defense that caused the Kangaroos fits will hope to do the same to the Manorites.

“Our big strength is our defense, and it always has been,” sophomore captain Pat Burns said. “This year, our offense is starting to come around. There was no point in that first game that we felt worried, so we’re feeling pretty good coming in.”

Burns will anchor the offensive and defensive lines, both of which will be at a size disadvantage against the Manorites.

“Both of their lines are good and big, but we think we’re a little quicker,” Burns said. “Hopefully we can use that to our advantage.”

Freshman defensive lineman Bart Dear and senior linebacker Joe Pappas will try to slow down Morrissey’s dangerous offensive attack, and the Knights’ offense must be efficient to find a hole in the Manorite defense – a defense, Morrissey captain Nick Bencomo said, that responded to the question marks that surrounded it prior to last week’s 20-0 thrashing of Alumni.

“We had a lot of guys in new spots, but on the whole, the defense played pretty well,” said Bencomo, a senior running back. “There’s always room for improvement, but our depth at each position is looking like it’ll be a strength.”

Sophomore Ryan Lash and freshman Ryan McSweeney have looked good at corner for the defending champions, Bencomo said, and junior receivers Dan Reimer and Warren Scott should continue to make plays for quarterback Joe McBrayer, a fellow junior.

And just in case the Manorites needed any added motivation for the game, they can look back to last year, when the Knights handed them a 12-6 regular season loss – the only blemish on Morrissey’s otherwise perfect season.

“It might not be as big a deal as people think because we’re a different team and we’re more focused on [this game],” Bencomo said. “But yeah, it’s going to be in our heads, that’s for sure.”