Manor aims to stay on top for second year
Maureen Schweninger | Friday, November 13, 2015
Three-seed Morrissey faces the possibility of some fierce payback from fourth-seeded Keenan when the two teams duke it out for their second consecutive title at Notre Dame Stadium this Sunday.
Junior linebacker Spencer Scannell said this is a stage the Manor are ready and prepared for.
“To be able to play in the stadium not once, but twice, is something I’m definitely going to cherish,” Scannell said. “But we’re going to play [Keenan] the same way we play every team every week. We’re not making it too big of a deal in preparing for how fired up they’re going to be.”
Last year’s game was a low-scoring affair, as both teams fought through heavy rain and near-freezing temperatures. A second-quarter field goal put the Manor up 3-0 for the only points of the day.
Sophomore quarterback and captain Declan Zidar said the Knights’ drive for retribution is nothing Morrissey hasn’t seen before.
“It’s similar to [our semifinal], when Stanford wanted some revenge,” Zidar said. “We took it in practice like a normal week, and we’ll do the same thing again. It should be just like any other Sunday.”
“We know we have a target on our backs, and Keenan has us in the crosshairs,” senior receiver and safety Cooper Cohen said. “But we’re confident. We’re the best team out here, and that’s why we’re here two years in a row.”
Only recently did Morrissey emerge as an interhall powerhouse as they did not make the playoffs the year before claiming the title last season. Zidar credited senior Erik Rayno as the driving force behind the team’s rise to fame.
“Morrissey’s mantra before [last year] was talent over preparation,” Zidar said. “Erik took over his junior year as a captain and instilled a discipline that was greatly needed. It’s been great for us. We’ve got a pretty young team this year that needed direction this year, and he provided that. Clearly it worked out well.”
After a serious shoulder injury late last season, the running back-turned-coach Rayno has continued to push the team beyond its physical athleticism.
“It was pretty obvious that the dorm had a lot of guys with pretty good talent,” Rayno said. “It was just a matter of getting everybody to focus on the goal of making it happen. Once you form a relationship with those guys and earn their respect, they want to put things together and work toward winning a championship.”
Senior running back Hunter White has spearheaded the Manor offense, having eclipsed 100 yards rushing almost every game this season. White said mental toughness is key to his success.
“It’s about going in with the ball and making sure that no matter what happens, you’re delivering,” White said. “You’re not getting hit; you’re bringing the power every time, all the way.”
As a receiver, Cohen is more than willing to sacrifice personal glory for the Manor’s signature run game. He has a surprising wish for Sunday.
“I would love to see my name next to zero stats,” Cohen said. “If I’m not getting a lot of passes that means we’re running the ball well, and that’s what we do best. Never do I want zero stats, but for the team it’s a great thing.”
The standout White is hardly phased by this being the final game of his career. He said he’s prepared to make it his strongest one yet.
“I’ve faced this before. I know to go out there and leave it all on the field and not look at it being my last game,” White said. “I can worry about that twenty years from now; right now, it’s the next game. This is what we expected. This is our goal. We’re back and ready to do this again.”