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Top seeded Dillon looks to earn trip to stadium

Joe Meixell | Friday, November 7, 2003

A trip to the stadium is on the line when first-seeded and undefeated Dillon (5-0) locks horns with fifth-seeded Keenan (3-1-1) Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. on Riehle South.

“This game will be won in the trenches,” Keenan captain and quarterback Patrick Downey said, alluding to the run-based offense featured by both squads. “We played them earlier this year and both teams know what the other is about.”

Dillon enters the semifinal contest hoping to build on the strength of a 7-0 shutout of eighth-seeded Sorin last Sunday. After a penalty negated an early Big Red touchdown, both teams were held scoreless until Dillon quarterback A.J. Cedeno found the endzone on a second-and-goal touchdown scamper in the fourth quarter.

“Our defense really held up and compensated for the offense,” Big Red captain J.T. Arseniadis said. “The hangover from fall break set in, and we need to get [the offense] back in form.”

Keenan, on the other hand, is coming off a dramatic 10-7 victory over fourth-seeded Knott. Falling behind 7-0 on a second quarter touchdown, the Knights drew even on a Reed Langton touchdown run in the third and advanced to the semifinals on a 25-yard field goal by Andrew Warner with only 28 seconds remaining in the game.

“We didn’t come out in the first half like we wanted to and kind of sleep-walked through it,” Downey said. “However, I really liked the character we showed in coming back, which gives us some momentum this week.”

Dillon rallied from an 8-0 deficit to defeat Keenan 14-8 in the regular season’s final week. The victory not only preserved the Big Red’s flawless record, but also secured Dillon the first seed in the playoffs.

“We came out flat and Keenan took it to us,” Arseniadis said. “We need to play stronger defense, execute on offense, and eliminate the stupid penalties to win again.”

Downey points to the ground game as the key to the Knights’ success this year.

“We’re a running team on both sides of the ball,” Downey said. “We try to pound teams by just lining up and beating our guys off the ball.”

Similarly, Dillon also boasts an impressive combination of both run defense and offense.

“Defensively, we shut down the run pretty well and just grind it out,” Arseniadis said. “If you can control the line of scrimmage, you can be successful, and we’ve done that.”

The winner of Sunday’s contest will challenge either Siegfried or Morrissey in Notre Dame Stadium for the men’s interhall football championship.

Siegfried vs. Morrissey

Last year, Morrissey fell to Siegfried in the first round of the playoffs. This year, the two teams square off again, but now the stakes are higher and the victor goes to Notre Dame Stadium.

And if last year’s game was any indication, the sequel should be a classic.

Siegfried coach John Torgensen feels the same way.

“I think these are the two best teams in the league,” he said. “I know Dillon is undefeated and the No. 1 seed, but they didn’t have to play Morrissey.”

A renowned passing offense is part of what puts Siegfried in the upper echelon of interhall teams. Though stifled for most of last week’s game against Alumni, Siegfried’s explosive aerial attack showed up when needed most. Quarterback Bill Bingle authored a late fourth quarter touchdown drive, spreading the ball around the field to his favorite target John Kaup, new addition Marques Bolden, and finally hitting tight end Mike Wahl for the game-winning touchdown.

Torgensen attributed the 10-6 win to the Bingle’s poise.

“Having been to the stadium twice, Bill Bingle has seen it all,” he said. “We all feel confident with him running the show.”

But what the Morrissey defense faces through the air, the Ramblers defense will face on the ground. The Manorites feature a consistent and punishing ground assault led by the tandem of tailback Nick Klein and quarterback Marty Mooney.

Last week, Zahm had little success in stopping the Morrissey duo. Klein amassed 75 total rushing yards while Mooney chipped in with a 60-yard scramble of his own. Both players rushed for a touchdown.

As for facing the Rambler defense, Klein plans on taking what the defense gives them. “We’re planning to mix it up on offense and see what works well that day,” he said.

However, touchdowns will be at a premium for both sides. Though their offenses run opposing schemes, both defenses put up similar stingy numbers week in and week out. The Rambler defense has recorded two shutouts and is holding opponents to 4.6 points per game. Rambler cornerback John Lira feels that the Siegfried defense has a distinct advantage in its practices.

“Playing against the top offense in practice makes [the defense] better as a whole,” Lira said. “As good as their offense is, I can’t say that it’s as good as ours.”

However, Morrissey’s defense has also been up to the task, beginning the year with three straight shutouts and allowing only 3.8 points per game.

But on Sunday, the focus for both teams is on the present, specifically on a trip to the stadium.

“That’s the goal of the entire endeavor – to make it to the stadium,” Klein said. “That’s obviously one of our major drives of the season.”

Siegfried will be seeking its third consecutive stadium appearance, and Lira remains confident in his team.

“The road to the championship still goes through Siegfried. As far as we’re concerned, we’re still driving the bus,” Lira said.