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Carroll and Fisher to battle for division lead

Joe Meixell | Friday, October 8, 2004

Two teams will walk into this game without a loss, but only one will emerge unscathed with the division lead in grasp.

The Vermin of Carroll Hall look to turn a surprising two-win start into a Cinderella story that will continue into the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Fisher Green Wave have already cemented a playoff spot after beating Knott last week, but they still hope to finish the season undefeated at 4-0.

Carroll is coming off of a 14-0 win over St. Edward’s last week. In that game and the season opener against defending champion Siegfried, the Vermin defense gave up no points. In order to win, Fisher will have to break through this impenetrable wall that is led by defensive captain and middle linebacker Dom Gabianelli. The secondary is anchored by strong safety Mike Johnson and free safety Matt Wormington.

Carroll will have a similar problem on the offensive side of the ball similar to Fisher’s, since the Green Wave defense is equally as strong. In three games against Sorin, Zahm and Knott, Fisher has given up only one touchdown and a total of 10 points.

Fisher made short work last week of a Knott running game that had been the impetus of the Juggs’ offense.

“The down linemen and the linebackers make the difference in the game,” Fisher captain Jerremy Moreno said.

Freshman quarterback Pat Gotebeski could come up big for the Green Wave this week, just as he did against Knott. Gotebeski drove Fisher down the field in the waning minutes of the game to set up a game-winning field goal by Daniel Manaas.

Carroll’s running game has been the key to its offense, led by freshman tailback Jimmy Buffi. Buffi had a big game against St. Ed’s, including a touchdown. Buffi credited his success to the excellent work of his offensive line in opening up holes and letting him run through.

With a win, Carroll clinches its first playoff appearance in at least seven years. But more importantly, the Vermin will gain respect and create fear in teams. Instead of Carroll being intimated by teams like Siegfried and Fisher, it may soon be the other way around.

Siegfried vs. St. Edward’s

Disappointment will be in abundance this Sunday as Siegfried takes on St. Edward’s.

Residents of Siegfried should not be faulted if they appear perplexed by their team’s position in the standings. After all, this is the two-time defending Interhall champion. A 1-1 record is certainly not shameful, but it is a novelty for the Ramblers.

Another new concept for Siegfried was losing to Carroll two weeks ago, an unexpected sequel to the victory over archrival Knott in the season’s opener.

To be sure, the season is far from over, but in order for the Ramblers to get back on the winning track they are so accustomed to, they will need to put some points on the board. Quarterback Brian Vithe and running back Matt Woperer must find their way into the end zone by any means necessary.

Getting into the end zone has not proven to be all that difficult a task when facing St. Ed’s. The team is the owner of a dismal 0-3 record. In its three losses St. Ed’s has given up successive totals of 20, 28 and 14 points – a grand total of 62 points and more than ten times as many points as it scored.

But pride may be the strongest of all motivators. An upset of perennial powerhouse Siegfried would not only prevent St. Ed’s from the discouragement of a winless season but would doubly serve as an extreme positive note. St. Ed’s could spoil Siegfried’s hopes and dreams. It would, in short, be something for the Men to hang their hats on, if nothing else.

Siegfried may have much more on the line. The Ramblers still have two games remaining and a 3-1 finish is definitely within the realm of possibility. Such a record would put the Ramblers in a familiar position: heading into the playoffs with momentum on their side and a chance to three-peat as champions.

Sorin vs. Knott

Sorin is being hounded by a large goose egg in the win column. After losing to Zahm last week, 14-7, the Otters are even hungrier for its first win of the season.

“We’ve just been beating ourselves and turnovers have been a problem,” Sorin captain Collin O’Keefe said. “We haven’t been tackling well. We need to hang onto the ball, make tackles, and we should be all right.”

Sorin’s previous two losses stemmed from poor fundamentals, tackling in particular. Zahm converted a 70-yard run that could have been prevented if the defense’s tackling was up to par.

Knott, on the other hand, is 1-2 coming into Sunday’s game. Fisher beat Knott on a last minute field goal last week, but Knott plans to return strong this week and bring its record back to .500.

O’Keefe believes the key to a Sorin victory over Knott will be the play of tailback Pat Lopez.

“He ran the ball pretty well for us and hopefully he can step up again,” O’Keefe said.

If the Otters can manage a decent rushing game, they will move one step closer to victory. This week, the quarterback/captain would like to switch focus towards a running game.

“We rely mostly on a passing game, but we struggle to run the ball,” O’Keefe said.

Last week, O’Keefe completed 5-of-13 passing attempts for over 70 yards.

On the other side, the Juggs simply need to find the end zone. Last week, Knott managed only two field goals throughout the course of the game. A lack of touchdown production puts additional pressure on the defense to hold opposing offenses.

Neither team has a clear shot at the playoffs this season, but neither team will let up. Sorin is seeking a victory as not to be shutout this season. Knott is looking to break even with a 2-2 record.

Both teams are revamping game plans for this skirmish. In the end, it will be interesting to see whose strategy adapted to victory.