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Men’s Interhall Football: O’Neill and Stanford set to change records

Jack Yusko and Megan Golden | Thursday, October 14, 2010

With a playoff spot on the line, tonight’s game between evenly matched O’Neill and Stanford promises to be an intense and hard fought battle.

O’Neill (2-1) and Stanford (2-1) are currently tied in the Green League, with both teams taking their only loss from undefeated Dillon. The winner of this matchup will advance to the postseason, while the loser will have to turn in their pads with a .500 record.

“We’re looking to make it to the [championship game in Notre Dame] Stadium this season, and winning this game is our next step toward that goal,” O’Neill freshman wide receiver Troy Suter said.

While also looking for a playoff bid, Stanford is also looking to make up for their loss last Sunday.

“Last game left a bad taste in our mouths,” senior captain and quarterback Tony Rizzo said. “We didn’t play our best and showed we still have room for improvement. Thursday is an opportunity to show what we’ve been working on in practice and prove we deserve to make it to the post-season.”

Practice for both teams this week has been intense, with each team perfecting their current system instead of introducing new sets or plays. Rizzo said that Stanford has been making personnel adjustments, while Suter said that O’Neill has been focusing on defensive back play and knowing their assignments.

“We’ve got a strong receiving corps and our two-minute offense has been vastly improved; the key to this game is going to be outscoring Stanford,” Suter said.

Stanford recognizes O’Neill’s potent offense and says that defense will be key.

“I have confidence in our offense, and our running backs should give O’Neill a hard time all game,” Rizzo said. “But it’s our defense — led by [senior] linebacker Colin McNamara — that’ll win us this game.”

Both teams predict a close high scoring match-up, as each has demonstrated offensive prowess in previous games.

Stanford and O’Neill face off Thursday for the right to continue playing at 9:30 p.m. at LaBar Fields.

Dillon vs. Keough

The winless Kangaroos are looking to finish the season strong under the lights and upset the Green League regular-season champion Big Red.

Dillon (3-0) and Keough (0-3) have played the same three teams with the Big Red outscoring the Kangaroos 56-9 against these opponents. It will up to Keough’s defense to slow down Dillon’s explosive offense.

“We need to stop shooting ourselves in the foot,” Keough senior wide receiver Kevin Laughlin said.

Dillon sophomore coach Lee Haruno said he was aware of the challenges Keough presents.

“They gave Stanford a really good half last week, so we know that they can play ball,” he said. “We’ve got to turn it around really fast. We’ll hit it hard in practice so we can be ready for them on Thursday.”

In order for Dillon to continue to be a threat on offense, freshman quarterback Kevin Fink said he and sophomore wide receiver Will Salvi must remain on the same page in the Big Red’s passing game.

“We just want to keep being consistent, keep playing without penalties,” Fink said. “We realize that Keough’s a really good team, and we’re going to come and play hard.”

Laughlin said he believes his team’s attitude is its strength. The Kangaroos lost by only six points in two of their games this season.

“Our strength is our desire to play the game. We’ve been in a position to win every game so far, but one bad break or two has cost us in every game,” Laughlin said. “I expect that to change this week.”

Dillon has already clinched a spot in the 2010 playoffs. They look to play well against Keough, however, they have much larger goals in mind.

“We’re 3-0, we just got to keep it rolling, and go strong into the playoffs,” freshman safety Ben Diaz said.

Keough, on the other hand, is ready to compete for the upset.

“Should be a close game between two good teams, under the lights no less,” Laughlin said.

The battle between Dillon and Keough will begin at 9:30 p.m. on Thursday at LaBar Fields.