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Men’s Interhall: Teams ready to begin play

SCOTT FRANO, ANDREW CARDOZA, MIKE MONACO, JAMES SOUTHARD, PETER STEINER, and ALLY DARRAGH | Friday, September 16, 2011

Carroll Hall will take the long walk over to the Stepan Fields on Sunday to face St. Edward’s Hall in each team’s opening game of the interhall season.

Carroll finished last season 3-1 and was eliminated in its first playoff game. Carroll captain junior linebacker Keith Marrero, a junior linebacker, says his team’s goal is to return to the postseason, but knows they must play one game at a time.

“Our ultimate goal is to get to the stadium and win a championship,” Marrero said. “But before that we have our season ahead of us, and we want to come out the first week and have a good showing. I think we’ve prepared well.”

Senior running back Nick Tammerine and sophomore quarterback Jack Gardner will lead the Vermin offense while Marrero will anchor the defense.

“[Our goal is to] just use this first game as a stepping stone and try to improve all year to be a legitimate contender for the interhall title,” Marrero said.

St. Ed’s senior linebacker Jay Mathes is eager to lead the Gentlemen back to their winning ways. The Gentlemen missed the playoffs last year at 1-3.

“Two years ago we went to the Stadium, and we made it to the playoffs the three years prior to last year,” Mathes said. “So this is our ‘Return to Glory’ campaign. We’re hoping to handle it a little bit better than Ty Willingham.”

Senior quarterback Paul Martin Rodriguez and senior lineman Juan Carlos Mejia Munne will be instrumental in St. Ed’s quest to return to Notre Dame Stadium and bring home the interhall title.

Mathes says the Gentlemen are ready to put their work on the practice field to the test.

“I’m expecting us to come out and really utilize what we’ve been working on, a kind of pole-cat offense of sorts with our big, tall wide receivers,” Mathes said.

St. Ed’s and Carroll will kick off its seasons Sunday at 1 p.m. on the Riehle Fields.

O’Neill vs. Dillon

O’Neill and the Dillon square off this Sunday as each team looks to start the season on the right path.

O’Neill is coming off a 2-2 campaign last year, but is already looking to the postseason. The Mob is putting a strong emphasis on limiting mental mistakes and taking it one game at a time.

“Last year we felt that we could have made the playoffs if it weren’t for a few mental breakdowns,” O’Neill junior captain Alex Brolick said. “We made some key mistakes that led to some close losses and as long as we are on the same page we are confident we can take that next step and make the playoffs.”

O’Neill retained most of its team from last year including senior quarterback Mike Wilbur, senior wide receiver Zach Bloss and senior middle linebacker Brendan Mulheran. The Mob’s biggest asset going into the season is their team chemistry and camaraderie.

“We aren’t the biggest team out there, but we’re a group of guys that feed off each other’s energy and truly enjoy playing the game,” Brolick said.

Dillon is coming off a strong season, where they just fell short winning the interhall championship. The Big Red know that in order to be successful they need to limit turnovers and be smart with the ball.

Junior wide receiver and cornerback captain Will Salvi said this year the team will make key offensive and defensive changes.

“Offensively, we need to be smarter,” Salvi said. “The defenses knew [last year] when we were going to pass or when we were going to run. The fact that we have an offensive coordinator this year helps a lot.”

Salvi knows O’Neill will be a true test to see where his team stands. Dillon’s key playmakers to watch on Sunday’s matinee are Salvi, senior linebacker Evan Wray, sophomore quarterback Kevin Fink, and sophomore defensive end Ben Diaz. The biggest asset for the Big Red is the surplus of athletes for each position.

“I don’t think a team has as many athletes as we do,” Salvi said. “We had some trouble finding out who will play where on defense because there are a lot of guys that could do great in many positions.”

O’Neill and Dillon go head-to-head at 3 p.m. Sunday at Riehle Fields hoping to start the season with an early victory.

Keenan vs. Keough

Keenan and Keough, two teams coming off losing 2010 season, will begin their respective 2011 interhall campaigns this Sunday.

Keenan went 1-3 last year and missed out on the playoffs. Nonetheless, the Knights’ senior class knows what postseason football feels like, having made a deep playoff run in 2008.

“Our freshman year, we made it to the Stadium for the championship and we want to get back there this year,” Keenan senior captain Erik Blackwood said.

To get back to the championship, the team is hoping its passion for football will fuel a strong season. Heading into their first game, the Knights are eager to hit the field.

“We’re just ready to play. We all just love playing football,” Blackwood said. “We want to come out strong, work together aeam and show our love for the game and our love for Keenan.”

Keough went 0-4 in 2010, but that record isn’t indicative of how the Kangaroos played. Three of their losses were hard-fought battles that ended in close games. This year, Keough has a lot of fresh faces, with a new group of freshmen and new coaches.

In addition to the newcomers, the Kangaroos will rely on a solid core of veterans. This group includes junior middle linebacker Andy Heck, senior tight end Wes Howard and senior captain Robert Toole.

“We have a younger team,” Toole said. “The three of us are the leaders and the returners.”

Between the freshmen and the upperclassmen, the Kangaroos are ready for the new season and eager to come together as a group.

“We are looking to build a community as a dorm, to strengthen our brotherhood, and go out and just play and have fun,” Toole said.

Keenan and Keough square off at 3 p.m. at Riehle Fields looking to get off to a strong start in 2011.

Sorin vs. Fisher

Defending champion Sorin will kick off the interhall football season against Fisher this Sunday.

Sorin is looking to repeat this fall under the leadership of junior captain Ted Spinelli. Spinelli credits the team’s good fortune last year to a variety of factors.

“We’ve had a solid core of guys over the past few years,” Spinelli said. “Things clicked and we got lucky a few times.”

Sorin won last year’s title 7-6 in overtime on a frigid Sunday afternoon.

“Playing in the stadium was an absolute blast,” Spinelli said.

While it might be tempting for the team to rest on its laurels and bask in the glory of last year’s championship, Spinelli said he has plans to improve his squad to ensure a repeat.

“We want to break in our new guys and run the ball so as to avoid relying on our big playmakers, and we have a few tricks up our sleeve,” he said.

A few Otters to look out for this year are junior wide receiver and linebacker Ryan Robinson, senior linebacker Brett Leahy and senior running back Matt Pepe.

Meanwhile, Fisher junior captain Matt Hart looks to lead his team back to the postseason coming off a 2-2 year.

“We’re looking to go for a deeper run this season,” Hart said.

Getting off to a fast start in games is definitely a key to Fisher’s season, according to Hart.

“Last year, we gave up two quick touchdowns in a game, and despite shutting out the opponent for the remainder of the game, we couldn’t come back,” Hart said. “We’re looking to improve our defense and come out with a quicker tempo on offense.”

Hart said Fisher’s game plan for this week is to come out with a blast of energy.

“This first game, we’re looking to get going and hit hard,” Hart said.

Potential Green Wave playmakers include senior running back Chris Charnock and junior linebacker Chris Sarkis.

Sorin and Fisher clash at 2 p.m. at Riehle Fields this Sunday to open the season.

Duncan vs. Knott

This Sunday Duncan and Knott will battle it out as both teams hope to start the season on a high note after missing the playoffs last year.

According to Duncan’s junior captain Neil Eveld, the Highlanders are looking to add to the offense to improve their team from last season.

“Our defense was good last year, but we couldn’t score,” Eveld said. “This year we simplified the offense and we got a new coach.”

The Highlanders played in some low-scoring games last year, including a 2-0 victory against Knott that was won on a safety.

“[The Highlanders] are a good team,” Eveld said. “We need to lock down on defense and give our offense a chance to score a touchdown or two.”

Key to Duncan’s offensive success will be sophomore quarterback Josh Whelan and sophomore running back Noah Rangel. The other advantage Duncan has is its depth.

“I think our lines are pretty deep which is a difference from past years,” said Eveld.

This game may be won or lost in the trenches because the Juggerknotts also identify their size as an advantage, senior captain Dan Shaffer said.

“We have a lot of lineman,” Shaffer said. “That’s a big plus.”

Knott hopes to perform better this year by being more dedicated in practice.

“The number one thing is getting people to come to practice,” Shaffer said. “Last year we didn’t have people showing up.”

The Juggerknotts will concentrate on fundamentals and effort during their first game.

“We aren’t developed play-wise so it’s going to be about defense and who is in shape,” Shaffer said. “We won’t take plays off.”

Important contributors to the Juggerknott’s effort are sophomore lineman Kevin Carr and junior quarterback Jake Coleman. After a few weeks of practice, both teams are anxiously awaiting their first game, Eveld said.

“We are excited to get this season under way,” said Eveld.

Duncan and Knott square off Sunday at 2 p.m. at Riehle Fields.

Alumni vs. Morrissey

Exactly one year ago, Morrissey and Alumni competed in an all-out battle, and the Dawgs walked away with bragging rights.

“Last year we were sloppy and let the Dawgs out, but this year we [don’t] want to take our cue from the Baha Men,” Morrissey junior captain Alex Oloriz said. “This year we are really going to focus on playing as one cohesive unit.”

Alumni, coming off a semi-final appearance last season, is feeling confident in its team, senior captain Dan Dansdill said.

“We’ve had good practices and we are ready to go have fun, fly around and hit people as hard as we can,” Dansdill said. “You can expect us to pass the ball a lot more than last year and for us to have fewer turnovers.”

Morrissey, coming off of a quarterfinal appearance, is hoping that sophomore quarterback Nick Conrad can lead the team to more offensive production with the help of offensive linemen sophomore Ryan Daly, junior Sean Baur and senior Tom Nield.

“Conrad is a play mastermind,” Oloriz said. “If I had to compare him to someone, it would have to be a more mobile Charlie Weis.”

The Dawgs are excited to see the what type of personality they will bring to the field this year. Some key players to look for are sophomore quarterback Will Cronin and senior center Tim Curran.

“Tim is the rock of our offense,” Dansdill said. “With those two leading the offense, we will utilize them to create some serious offensive production with the passing game.”

Not only does this matchup set the tone for the entire season, but it will also decide who takes home this year’s bragging rights.

Alumni and Morrissey square off Sunday at 1 p.m. at Riehle Fields with more than just a game at stake.