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Flanner Cup kicks off with Knott and Siegfried matchup

Joe Meixell | Friday, September 19, 2003

Knott and Siegfried will match up this Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. on the Riehle North fields, as both teams look to not only win the coveted Flanner Cup but also to start off the 2003 season with a victory over their archrival.

Defending interhall champion Siegfried enters the game returning an incredible 21 of 22 starters. The team should get a further boost from increased participation within the hall following last year’s championship run.

“We had 50 guys try out this year, up from 23 last year.” said captain John Torgenson. “We actually had to cut some guys that were on last year’s team.”

Despite losing last season’s middle linebacker to a study abroad program, Siegfried returns what should be a dominant defense led by defensive end Kevin Phipps and nine more returning starters from a unit that gave up just one touchdown last season. Offensively, the Ramblers will once again feature a strong passing attack led by quarterback Bill Bingle and wide receiver Jon Kaup. Torgenson described Bingle simply as “a great athlete.”

Torgenson also holds high hopes for the running game led by running back Tim Breitbach.

“We’re hoping our line can push people around and open up some holes,” Torgenson said.

The Knott Juggernauts come in looking for revenge after last year’s loss to their rival. They hope to gain it on the strength of what captain Drew Donovan promises will be a stout defense led by cornerback Brian Schmutzler.

“Defense will be the strength of our team, like it is every year,” said Donovan.

Offensively, Donovan describes the unit led by quarterback Ben Gilfillan and running back John Bisanz as “a little bit untested” but says to look for a balanced offense with an emphasis on being able to run the football.

“I think to win in this league, you have to be able to run the ball,” Donovan said.

In their preparations this week, both teams described themselves as more focused on the basics of their own games than any special preparation for this week’s opponent. However, expect a hard-hitting, emotional rivalry game. Both teams profess to be fired up to play.

“If we can beat Siegfried, we know we can beat anyone,” Donovan said. “We think we can make a run this year.”

O’Neill vs. Alumni

The beginning of each football season is marked by the smell of optimism in the air.

Each team looks forward to improving on the previous year and O’Neill is no different than anyone else. The Mob come into their season opening game against Alumni eager to put the past behind them. The Dawgs defeated the Mob last season and O’Neill is looking to return the favor when the two teams meet Sunday at 3 p.m. at Stepan Field South.

O’Neill captain John Enterline is confident in his team’s chances.

“We are going to come out there and give Alumni a run for their money,” Enterline said. “That was last year; this is a new season.”

The Mob boasts a speedy group of receivers that should pose a threat to the Dawg secondary. Mike Mulligan and Enterline lead a sturdy linebacking corps. There are six freshmen on the squad this year, and all of them are slated to see some action.

Alumni enjoyed last year’s win, and the Dawgs feel they’re ready to emerge victorious once again. Like O’Neill, the Dawgs are excited to get the season underway and are confident in their chances. They are piloted by six seniors and have a talented freshman class, headlined by tight end Matt Augustyn. Their offensive backfield consists of quarterback Chris Cottingham and running back Alex Roodhouse. Corey Harkin is a player to watch on the defensive side of the ball.

Alumni captain Larry Rooney anticipates a tough game.

“Any game in our league can be considered a rivalry,” Rooney said. “We are just looking forward to playing the game and beating O’Neill.”

Stanford vs. Keenan     

Another chapter in the bitter Stanford-Keenan rivalry will be penned on Sunday afternoon when the North Quad neighbors lock horns in the season opener at 1 p.m. on Stepan Field.  

“There’s a little bit of a rivalry there and our games are almost always decided by a touchdown or less,” said Stanford linebacker and captain Dave Marques.  “We’re definitely bringing everything into this game.”

Although the two halls may be located in the same building, they found themselves on opposite ends of the Gold League last season, as Stanford finished 3-1 and qualified for the playoffs while Keenan stumbled to a 1-3 mark.

While the Griffins will field a team composed primarily of returning seniors the weekend, only three seniors and nearly a dozen freshmen will suit up for the Knights.

“We’ll be pretty dependent upon our freshmen growing up quickly,” Keenan quarterback and captain Patrick Downey said.  “The sooner they adjust to this level of competition, the better off we’ll be.”

Keenan will be counting on the senior triumvirate of Ryan Crochet, Sean McCarthy and Brian Long to provide examples for the inexperienced squad.

“We’re really going to lean on them to be both stalwarts on the field as well as emotional leaders off the field,” Downey said.

Stanford, on the other hand, will look to sophomore quarterback Rich Whitney, senior tailback Mark McNamee and senior safety Nick Befera as key contributors this year. While the upperclassmen will undoubtedly play an integral role in determining whether Stanford is able to build upon last year’s playoff appearance, the freshmen will also have a hand in the process.

“We just need the freshmen to come out of their shells,” Marques said.  “There’s definitely potential there, and if they have a good year, we should be in good shape.”

Ultimately, while the expectations between the re-tooling Knights and veteran Griffins are significantly different, the intense emotion produced by the heated rivalry ensures that Sunday’s results are anything but predictable.

“Keenan-Stanford has always been a game played on heart and emotion,” Downey said.  “However, there’s a fine line between taking advantage of that buildup and still playing under control … you never know what’s going to happen.”

Zahm vs. Carroll

Last fall, Zahm only allowed two touchdowns against opponents during the regular season, finishing with an impressive 3-1 record.

Despite Zahm’s defensive superiority, they still lost in the first round in the playoffs last year. This Sunday, Zahm has a chance to regain some pride with its season opener against Carroll.

“As always, Zahm’s going to be be a tough team,” Carroll’s senior captain Jim Butz said.

Carroll has been practicing three times a week, for between an hour and an hour and a half each day, for the past three weeks, said Butz. He is “really pleased” with his team and the “good effort” they’ve been giving.

Even though Carroll was shut out by Zahm last year 14-0, Butz believes his team can compete this season.

“We’ve got a good chance [of winning],” Butz said.

Zahm’s senior captain Mike Maimone is also satisfied with his team’s work ethic during practices. Over the past week, Maimone has noticed something different about his team’s play.

“People have been really ready to go, a lot more intense,” Maimone said. “We’ll be good”.

Zahm and Carroll both have a lot of returning players. Butz believes some new faces on his roster will make the difference.

“Carroll has some new freshmen talent,” said Butz.

Zahm will battle Carroll at Riehle Field North on Sunday at 2 p.m.