Men’s Interhall Football: Starting off strong
KEVIN BALDWIN, CHRIS ALLEN, JOHN HELMS, COLIN KING, ANDREW OWENS and MEGAN FINNERAN | Friday, September 18, 2009
Two teams are out to redeem themselves in this season, with last year’s runner-up Keenan eyeing a return to the championship game as Keough simply hopes to win a game.
Keenan sophomore captain Terry Mahoney is confident that his team’s balanced offense and solid defense will prevail on Sunday.
“We’ve got speed on the outside and the line will be strong,” Mahoney said. “We can count on our defense to make stops.”
Though the team has a great deal of incoming freshmen replacing senior leadership from last year, the Knights’ roster is certainly not lacking in athleticism.
“We’ve got the advantage of size and experience this season,” he added.
Keenan has high expectations for 2009, after a thrilling turn-around last fall, as quarterback Mahoney led the team to three consecutive victories before a heartbreaking defeat to Siegfried in the championship game.
“It will be difficult, but we want to take it back all the way,” Mahoney said.
The Knights will face a Keough team in search of a victory. Last season the Kangaroos finished 0-2-2.
Sophomore captain Ryan Cordell is optimistic that his squad will fare well this season. “Everyone is healthy,” Cordell said. “We’ve got a lot of experienced guys coming back.”
The opening game will be a crucial point for the Kangaroos to gauge themselves for the games to follow.
“We’re going to keep it simple all around, move the ball, and block and tackle,” Cordell said. “We’ll find out after Sunday where our strengths and weaknesses are.”
Cordell said his squad is undaunted by the defending runners-up and is enthusiastic about the upcoming football season.
“We’ve got a lot of respect for Keenan,” Cordell said. “We’re going to come out and play hard like we do every year.”
Kickoff will be at 3 p.m. Sunday at Riehle Fields.
Fisher vs. Sorin
Fisher hopes to win its first Interhall game in nearly two years Sunday against Sorin. Last season the Green Wave struggled to an 0-4 record.
“We were pretty awful,” sophomore captain Geoff Barcus said. “However, we lost each of our games on the last play.”
This season Fisher hopes to turn that luck to its favor, even if the varsity team has depleted its roster.
“We didn’t lose too much to graduation,” Barcus said. “But we did lose [junior fullback and defensive lineman] Steve Botsford to the varsity team.”
Without Botsford, Fisher will rely on youth and an exciting brand of football, highlighted by sophomore cornerback Andrew Hessert, sophomore defensive lineman Pat Newcomer and do-it-all senior Jamie Ellis.
“Expect a touchdown a game [from Ellis],” Barcus said.
Coming off such a tough year, Fisher is setting simple goals and hoping that results will follow.
“Our goal is to play football well,” Barcus said.
The Green Wave’s opponent, Sorin, is coming off a 3-1-1 season that saw them make the playoffs only to lose to Morrissey. In order to duplicate last season’s winning ways, the Otters will need to account for the loss of graduated quarterback Bobby Sullivan. The focus now shifts to senior quarterback Casey McGushin.
“[McGushin] is the best athlete I’ve ever seen,” said junior captain Michael Browder. “He’s got quick feet and a strong arm.”
Behind McGushin’s arm and Browder’s leadership, the Otters are confident heading into the 2009 season.
“Our goal is to make the playoffs,” Browder said.
Fisher will try to finally get a win while Sorin aims to replicate the success of last season when the teams meet Sunday at Riehle Fields at 2 p.m.
Duncan vs. Knott
Duncan looks to make a name for itself in its second year of Interhall football when it faces Knott Sunday.
Last season the Highlanders were largely considered an afterthought by opponents, but this season the team aims to surprise its opponents as a vastly improved team.
“This year our aim for Duncan is to greatly improve on last year’s inaugural season,” junior captain Pat Scheel said.
Duncan is more seasoned than last year, but inexperience still plagues the roster. For the second year in a row the Highlanders are without a single senior on the team.
“The team is very young,” Scheel said. “But there is also a lot of talent on the team. Every team should be prepared to play us.”
Unlike Duncan, the Juggernauts return all of their starters from last year, and thus have more ambitious goals.
“I’m hoping for a 3-1 [record] in the regular season and then going deep into the playoffs,” sophomore lineman Kevin Soran said.
An impressive freshman turnout has added depth to Knott’s roster.
“We’ve got all our starters back from last year and a big freshman class,” Soran said. “We are going to be pretty decent.”
While the Juggernauts are looking forward to bigger games later on in this fall versus Siegfried and Morrisey, Duncan is putting a strong emphasis on using their first game to deliver a message.
“We are viewing the game against Knott as a way of showing we are no longer an afterthought in our division,” Scheel said.
The game is at 2 p.m. Sunday at Riehle Fields.
Dillon vs. O’Neill
An inexperienced O’Neill squad will challenge the experience of Dillon Sunday.
While Dillon hopes to continue last year’s success, O’Neill has reinvented its team in hopes of reinventing its record. The Big Red returns several starters from a 3-2 campaign a year ago.
“We won the division last year and are looking to build upon last year’s success,” junior captain Jordan Smith said.
Dillon’s chances of repeating as champions of the Green League rest upon their defense. Last year’s unit outscored their offense. Smith expects just as many turnovers and big plays this year from a defense anchored by senior linebacker Ryan Shestak.
O’Neill finished last season on the opposite end of the Green League, failing to make the playoffs with a 1-2-1 record. The Angry Mob returns only six starters.
However, there are plenty of reasons for the Mob to be optimistic. O’Neill has reinvented their offensive playbook to an option-style attack geared toward passing.
“I like the looks of it,” senior captain Charles Johnson said. “Our type of offense is something not seen too often in Interhall football, with so many receivers and passing plays.”
Johnson anchors both the offensive and defensive lines. On the offensive line, he will aim to give Mob freshman quarterback Chris Delillo time to throw the ball.
The transition from league doormat to threat will hinge on an abundance of play-making receivers. Seniors Tim Lang and Nate Forte and sophomore Julian Murphy are Delillo’s targets this season.
Dillon’s opportunistic defense will look to exploit Delillo’s inexperience when the Big Red meets O’Neill Sunday at 3 p.m. at Riehle Fields.
Carroll vs. St. Edward’s
St. Edward’s and Carroll will open their Interhall seasons in a competition for the hearts of Lyons Hall Sunday.
The Vermin and Gentlemen know each game is crucial when fighting for a playoff berth, but as both are the brother dorm of Lyons Hall this year, extended bragging rights will also be on the line.
Carroll enters the season full of optimism with nearly its entire roster returning.
“I think we’ll do well,” junior captain and wide receiver Nick Ruof said. “We’re experienced, and we have a couple freshmen who will contribute.”
“Last year was a fluke,” sophomore Albert Toscano said in reference to the Vermin’s 1-2-1 record in 2008.
The Vermin hope to match last year’s win total with a dominating performance against St. Edward’s.
“[We need to] have a tough defense and not give up the big play,” Ruof said. “We can’t make any mistakes on offense.”
The expectations are just as high for the Gentlemen this season as they fully expect to be playing once the playoffs roll around.
The Gentlemen went 3-0-1 in 2008 before losing in the first round of the playoffs. They hope to build on that success this season, as only three players graduated from last year’s squad.
“We’re going to try to have a little fun this year,” senior captain Andy Nester said. Nester plays on both sides of the ball, starting at both linebacker and center.
He believes the key to stopping Carroll is to contain junior quarterback Brian Vaio.
“They’re a good team,” Nester said. “They have a real athletic quarterback. We have to account for that when we play them Sunday if we want to win.”
By the end of the weekend, one team will be 1-0 with all of Lyons Hall on its side while the other will need to play better the rest of the season in order to earn a berth in the playoffs.
Carroll and St. Edward’s will face each other Sunday at 1 at Riehle Fields.
Morrissey vs. Alumni
Alumni’s defense will challenge Morrissey’s high-powered offense in a clash of styles Sunday.
Last season Morrissey’s deep passing game hurt Alumni, but the Dawgs are ready with an improved team and a new agenda this season.
“Our game plan for them is essentially to play disciplined defense and not get burned deep,” junior captain Patrick Rushford said.
Morrissey hopes to surpass Alumni’s defense with its talented offense.
“We are going to come at them hard with a balanced attack offensively,” senior linebacker Phillip Yuhas said. “Both the run and the pass will be utilized in order to keep them on their toes.”
Alumni returns mostly sophomores, many of whom are key returning players. Despite their young team, they are not lacking skills or team unity.
“The freshmen have come out willing to compete and make an impact for the team,” Rushford said. “Everyone really wants a successful season and is committed to making it a reality.”
Morrissey hopes its veterans, including senior quarterback Danny Deveny, can lead the team to a strong start of the season. Sunday will be the first snaps Deveny takes with his Interhall team, but he did play at St. Olaf’s College before coming to Notre Dame.
As for Morrissey’s team spirit, they have already held an 8 a.m. practice, an accomplishment in itself.
“We are all friends and enjoying giving each other a hard time on and off the field,” Yuhas said. “That chemistry translates very well on game day as a trust in each other’s abilities.”
Yuhas and Morrissey’s high-octane offense will test Alumni’s stringent defense Sunday at 1 p.m. at Riehle Fields.