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Men’s Interhall Football: Keough battles to stay in playoff race

Mike Gotimer and Griffin Dassatti | Friday, October 12, 2007

Stanford vs. Keough

Playoff hopes hang in the balance this Sunday when Stanford and Keough face off at Riehle Field at 1 p.m.

A win for the Griffins (2-0) would extend their undefeated season and virtually assure them a playoff spot. A win for Keough would put the Kangaroos at 2-2 and greatly improve their own playoff chances.

Stanford captain Rob Huth believes the Griffins have a lot of room to improve.

“We’ve been a bit slow on offense and had some breakdowns on defense,” Huth said. “But when it has mattered most, we’ve scored and kept our opponents out of the endzone. Overall, we have some things to fix if we want to beat Keough, but I can’t be too upset since we’re 2-0.”

Stanford has been trying hard to stay focused on the Kangaroos despite next week’s matchup against bitter rival Keenan.

“Anytime you have a rival like Keenan looming, there’s always going to be a little looking ahead if you’re honest with yourself,” Huth said.

The stingy Stanford defense is led by sophomore cornerback Chris Gill, senior defensive lineman Matt Templemire and freshman linebacker Colin McNamara.

On offense, senior running back Tregg Duerson has led the Griffins grind-it-out attack behind offensive linemen Pat Noble and Karun Ahuja.

Keough enters Sunday after a crushing 12-6 loss to Dillon in last week’s contest. In the closing minutes of the game, the Kangaroos came up short on a fourth-and-goal play that would have forced at least a tie had Keough put the ball in the endzone.

After the loss, the Kangaroos find themselves at 1-2 and with their backs against the wall if they want a realistic shot at a playoff berth.

In last weekend’s game against Dillon, the Kangaroos ran the ball well, allowing them to control the tempo of the game. For much of the fourth quarter, they had the Big Red on their heels. To be successful in this week’s matchup, Keough will need to continue to pound the ball inside against the strong Stanford defense.

Alumni vs. O’Neill

Alumni takes on O’Neill this Sunday in a battle of winless teams.

Either the Dawgs (0-2) or The Mob (0-3) will have to come away with their first victory of the year.

Unless, of course, they tie.

Both teams are looking to erase memories of lackluster seasons. Alumni senior captain Bret Shapot says the Dawgs’ biggest weakness is their bench.

“We start games off really strong,” Shapot said, “But we lack a lot of depth. We have a lot of guys going both ways. It’s usually 6-0 at the end of the first half. Then we’ll get on the field and just be dead after halftime.”

Shapot plays both sides of the ball for Alumni at running back and strong safety.

Despite the lack of sophomore and juniors, he sees hope in a few recent additions, including former varsity walk-on sophomore Alex Lough. Lough will fill in as a middle linebacker and running back against O’Neill.

“We’re really working on … running [through] the fundamentals. What we want do this week is to put the ball in the end zone,” Shapot said.

Like Alumni, O’Neill senior captain and linebacker Pat Conley thinks his team is not as bad as their record indicates.

“Basically, there [have] been one or two plays each game that have hurt us, usually against our defense,” Conley said. “Our offense just hasn’t been clicking like it was last year. We haven’t really found anything that’s worked. You can’t point out one thing, it’s a whole group of things that haven’t been working.”

At 0-3, and coming off a 12-0 loss to Morrissey, the playoffs are no longer a possibility for the Mob. Like the Dawgs, O’Neill wants to return to fundamentals on offense. Conley said junior running back Don Joyce and senior quarterback Chris Stroh will lead the revamped offense this week.

Depsite the bad start, the Dawgs on the other hand, have a slim shot at the postseason, a shot Shapot says will be kept well in mind Sunday.

“It’s win or die. We have to win out to have a shot at the playoffs,” he said. “We have to beat O’Neill this week and then take out Dillon next week. It’s that simple.”