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INTERHALL FOOTBALL: Zahm hopes to upset Carroll

Jack Thornton | Friday, September 16, 2005

When covering Monday Night Football, legendary broadcaster Al Michaels likes to say that the first game of each season doesn’t really matter.

Zahm team captain Pat Gourley will tell you that in interhall football, that kind of breathing room doesn’t exist.

“We went 2-2 last year, but were kept out of the playoffs on points,” Gourley said. “[The first game] is very important because we only play four games, and two loses and you could be out of the playoffs.”

Zahm will try to get closer to the three wins needed to guarantee a playoff spot when the Rabid Bats play the Vermin from Carroll Sunday at 3 p.m. at Rhiele.

Carroll went 3-1 during last year’s regular season but lost in the playoffs to Knott. Team captain and starting quarterback Kory Wilmot believes his squad is now ready for the big prize.

“Carroll’s goal this year is nothing less than playing in the stadium,” Wilmot said.

Carroll will have plenty of experience on its sideline – or rather, on its side of the scrimmage line – when it takes the field Sunday, as the Vermin return 20 of 22 starters. In particular, Wilmot is stoked about the returning offense and addition of sophomore transfer running back Mark Bennett.

“The offense is definitely our strong suit,” Wilmot said. “We’re returning 10 of 11 starters, and the lone starter we lost is being replaced by our transfer [student]. And we’ve still got our two big receivers: Paul Tassinari and Mike Johnson.”

One factor no longer in Carroll’s favor is the element of surprise.

“My first two years here – I don’t know how to say this being nice – [Carroll wasn’t good], but last year they were 3-1, and they beat some good teams,” Gourley said. “I’m worried that if we blow this game off like it’s going to be an easy win, they’ll come out and surprise us like they did to a lot of teams last year.”

If Zahm hopes to be successful this year, it will need to fill holes left by graduating seniors and pre-season injuries.

“The last few years our whole defense has been dominant, but we lost a few good seniors, so we’ll see how our freshmen step up,” Gourley said.

In the Zahm spirit, though, Gourley is undaunted.

“This year, so far, we’ve been working real hard, and we’ve been getting our solid guys every time coming out,” Gourley said. “We have a lot of confidence and spirit, and I think we’re going to be more in shape than anybody we play.”