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Men’s Interhall: Playoffs on line for Mob

Joe Meixell | Friday, October 10, 2008

This Sunday, Stanford and O’Neill will face off in a game that may have playoff implications down the line.

“Stanford is in the same position that we are and we both realize how important this game is,” O’Neill captain Matt Bono said.

Both teams suffered tough losses last week, failing to capitalize on opportunities that could have given them wins. Specifically, Stanford (1-1) had problems with their kicking game and picking up the confusing blitzing schemes employed by Dillon.

“We’ve been working on solidifying our kicking game and offensive line protection after last week,” Stanford captain John Burke said, “Also, we want to improve our coaching for this game, but the biggest thing is to be consistent and stay mentally focused”.

O’Neill has a set of their own problems to work on as well.

“Our team stalled a few times when we were in scoring position, but I take full responsibility for not having implemented the appropriate offense in those situations,” Bono said. “We did a poor job in keeping Bobby Powers off his back last week and we’ve worked to fix that”.

Also hindering the Griffins and Mob are key injuries to their players, including O’Neill’s running back.

“We lost running back Dave Zimmer last week. But rather than feel sorry for ourselves we are looking to move on,” Bono said, “We’ve got a lot of respect for Stanford, but at the same time, no team in our division is invincible and a win against Stanford would go a long way in helping us rebound from last week”.

The Griffins certainly don’t lack confidence in their abilities.

“We have the talent to beat O’Neill, but they’re a good team and should give us a good game,” Burke said. “Last week we felt we should’ve won the game, and we’re hoping to use this game to come out and prove we’re a great team”.

With both teams coming off losses, both of these very talented teams should come into the game hungry for a victory, which would bolster the winning team’s playoff hopes.

“The season isn’t over yet for anybody in our division and I’m sure all of the players know that,” Bono said.

Alumni vs. Knott

On Sunday, two one-win teams hope to stay in the playoff hunt.

Alumni (1-2) lost its previous game to Siegfried 14-3, leaving it with only an outside chance to reach the post-season. Its stagnant offense, producing only a field goal, made it very difficult to compete with the powerful Siegfried.

“Our defense played well but they were on the field too long because the offense couldn’t string anything together,” captain Luke Betterman said.

A struggling offense and a stingy defense, especially against the run, has been a prevailing theme throughout the Dawgs’ season. Always hoping to improve, they will continue to work on moving the ball in practice this week, Betterman said.

On the other sideline, Knott (1-1) comes off a bye and still has a very realistic chance of reaching the playoffs. According to Juggerknott coach Aidan Fitzgerald, the team relies on “scrappiness” and intensity no matter the score, and it hopes to use this characteristic to capture a win against Alumni.

In practice, the Juggerknotts have focused on their own team, particularly their execution.

“Execution has been poor at times because guys try to overthink the plays,” Fitzgerald said. “The guys try to overthink on offense and defense instead of reacting to the play.”

St. Edward’s vs. Zahm

Sunday’s game between St. Edward’s and Zahm pits two teams with very different goals, as St. Ed’s hopes to clinch a playoff spot while Zahm just hopes to get its first win.

Zahm won the last two meetings between the teams, but St. Ed’s strong season this year makes the matchup interesting.

“They’re a much different team now, and I know they’re out for a little revenge,” senior running back Theo Ossei-Anto said. “This is going to be a fight, and I think both teams will be ready.”

Last week, Zahm (0-1-1) tied Carroll. The Rabid Bats scored an early touchdown, but blew the lead in a late play yielding a Vermin touchdown for the 6-6 tie. Their game against Sorin the week before had similar consequences, but resulted in a loss instead of a tie.

St. Ed’s (2-0-0) approaches Sunday with a different battle to face. They beat Fisher last weekend with the help of an offense based on short passes. A win for St. Ed’s would secure a place in the playoffs, getting it one step closer to the championship game.

“I thought we played with a lot of heart,” junior linebacker Andy Nester said. “We definitely did not play our best game on either side of the ball, but we did what we had to did to get the win. 

The game will be at 2:00 p.m. at Riehle Field.

Dillon vs. Keough

Well on their way to a playoff appearance, Dillon will have the chance to knock winless Keough out of the playoff picture with a win.

After a 7-6 victory over the previously undefeated Stanford last week, the Big Red (2-1-0) hope to carry that momentum and intensity against Keough (0-1-1).

The Dillon defense played a key role in the Big Red’s success against Stanford, as it was responsible for Dillon’s only touchdown. Anchored by defensive end Jordan Smith and linebackers Ryan Shestak and Brent Berceau, the defense will need another strong performance against a balanced Keough offense.

The Big Red will try to get their offense clicking against a Keough defense that surrendered 20 points to Stanford in its last game.

“Our offense needs to be more efficient and sustain drives longer,” Dillon captain Chris Cugliari said. “We have to convert points in the red zone.”

Led by Joe Garigliano at quarterback, the Big Red passing game will pose a threat to a Keough secondary that has been plagued by injuries. Pat Jackson and Ryan Winiarski will provide the protection in the trenches.

Faced with a must-win scenario, the Roos of Keough are undaunted by the task ahead of them.

“We’ve had two weeks to prepare for this game,” sophomore captain Kevin Laughlin said. “It’s just a matter of refining our offense, becoming more efficient, and then executing it.”

Junior quarterback Matt Bruggeman and the simplified Keough offense will have to find a rhythm against the stingy Dillon defense, something it has yet to accomplish this season. Power running back Nazur Ahmed will try to keep the Big Red honest on the ground.

The Roo defense will also have to step up against the dynamic running game of Dillon. Sophomore defensive back Brian Koepsel and the defensive line lead the defense as it will try to force their second shutout of the season.

With Keough’s season on the line, the Roos have additional motivation to defeat Dillon.

“A win on Sunday raises the stakes for our rivalry game against O’Neill,” Laughlin said. “We would like nothing more than to beat O’Neill to get into the playoffs.”

The Roos and the Big Red face off at 3 p.m. at Riehle Fields.

Siegfried vs. Morrissey

Morrissey and Siegfried have handled their opponents with ease thus far and both themselves undefeated heading into Sunday’s 2 p.m. game at Riehle Fields.

Up for grabs is not only the chance to stay undefeated, but also the chance to clinch a playoff spot with a win.

The Manorites (2-0) will try to continue the success of their explosive offense against Siegfried’s (2-0) proven balanced defense. Quarterback and captain Joe McBrayer helm the Manor offense, which will need freshman running back Dave Ulery to step up after sitting out because of a knee injury last week.

“He had a great first game but we felt that it was best for us to take a preventative and not play him in our last game,” McBrayer said. “We’re looking forward to getting him back on the field.”

Siegfried’s defense is well aware that it will have its hands full with Morrissey’s high-powered offense.

“They have tremendous big play potential,” captain Kevin Kelly said. “They are very good at scoring through the air so we’ll have to stay attentive on defense and either drop back on coverage or play tight based on what they show us.”

Having suffered two disappointing playoff losses in a row, Siegfried appears to have one thing and one thing alone on its mind: clinch a playoff spot.

“It’s our sole motivation. We have to win not only to make the playoffs but to give ourselves the chance to avenge last year’s playoff loss,” Kelly said. “We have a senior-laden team and we are definitely putting pressure on ourselves to do that.”

Having dominated its opponents thus far, Morrissey appears more calm and cool about its situation as an undefeated team one win away from the playoffs.

“We’re not going to play up the fact that it’s the playoffs,” McBrayer said. “We’re going to play the same way we have in our last two games and the game will take its course.”

Sunday’s game between these two teams should be a well-played clash of two of the league’s top playoff hopefuls.

Sorin vs. Carroll

With both teams coming off match-ups with Zahm, Sorin and Carroll both hope to make a playoff push when they face off Sunday at 1 p.m.

Sorin (2-0) can lock up a playoff slot with a victory over the Vermin.

Carroll (1-1-1) scored its lone touchdown last week in the final minute of the game. This late score kept the Vermin in the playoff hunt, and they are directly behind Sorin in the standings.

A 64-yard halfback option pass into the red zone set up the touchdown.

This offensive uncertainty could meet its match in the Sorin defense. The Otters have only given up six points on the season. That degree of a performance requires respect, Carroll captain and quarterback Nick Ruof.

“We respect the 2-0 record of Sorin,” he said. “But we are looking to have a winning record.”