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MEN’S INTERHALL: Zahm takes on Sorin in battle of unbeatens

Joe Meixell | Friday, September 23, 2005

A clash of Blue League unbeatens will take place Sunday at Riehle Field as Zahm and Sorin square off. Both teams are coming off of hard-fought victories this week, and are hoping to carry their momentum into this contest.

Zahm, fresh from a come-from-behind 14-12 victory over Carroll last week, is looking to build off of its win.

“We were missing some key guys last week on the line,” said Zahm captain Pat Gourley, referring to several injuries that his team experienced prior to last week’s game. “Our guys really stepped it up last week to get the win. Hopefully with those guys back, we won’t die out as much in the fourth quarter.”

Gourley also said depth could become an issue Sunday, and feels that with the return of those linemen, the Bats will possess an advantage in terms of depth and size that could be the difference in the contest.

However, Zahm’s offense, which put together a late fourth-quarter drive last week for the winning score, will face a stiff test in the Otters’ stifling defense.  Sorin captain Pete Lavorini described his defense, which posted a 7-0 shutout last week against St. Ed’s, as “quick and speedy.”

“Our defense played really well last week.,” he said. “They’re tough, and don’t take crap from anyone.”

Sorin, which forced three turnovers last week, will need to continue its dominant play against the Bats’ potent passing combo of quarterback Sean Wieland and wide receiver Kris Patterson. Receiver/running back Jake Richardville, who caught the winning touchdown last week against Carroll, also figures to be a key contributor to Zahm’s offensive attack.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, Lavorini expects big things out of running back Pat Lopez. It seems that Zahm shares the same sentiment, as Gourley mentioned that stopping the run will be a major priority Sunday.

“Last week we had some defensive breakdowns, especially in communication, and we addressed that in practice throughout the week,” Gourley said.

Should the Bats stack the line in hopes of stopping Lopez, expect Sorin quarterback Stu Mora to have a big day. The Otter signal-caller went 7-for-15 with one touchdown and two interceptions last week, including a 40-yard strike that proved to be the game winner.

“We definitely want another shutout this week, and we’d like to put up a touchdown each quarter,” Lavorini said.

Though offensively, those are lofty goals, another strong defensive effort could easily lead to the victory. Sunday’s game appears to be very evenly matched, and one mistake likely could decide the winner. The game is also pivotal in terms of seeding for the playoffs, as the winner will put itself in good position to qualify for the postseason.

Knott vs. Fisher

Fisher opens up its 2005 interhall football campaign against Knott Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Riehle West field, Both teams have high hopes for the year and are gearing up for a physical battle this weekend.

The Juggerknotts are looking to rebound from their opening loss to perennial powerhouse Siegfried.

Despite the 9-0 loss, the team looked promising, keeping its opponents from scoring a single offensive touchdown. With the defense running on all cylinders, Knott focused most of its attention on simplifying the offensive game plan this week in practice.

“The offense was a little too complex in our first week,” said captain Dan Grady. “We’re going to try to go back to basics this week.”

The revamped offense looks to end its scoring drought as the defense continues its dominance under the leadership of reigning MVP Joe McCarthy.

Although Knott is excited to get back on the right track, the team knows Fisher will not go down easy.

“Fisher always comes to play,” Gray said. “They are a big team who loves to hit.”

Jeremy Moreno, captain of the Fishermen, responded by saying his players were ready to come out and play a tough game to kick off the year.

Last year Fisher was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs after a 3-1 regular season record. The team, which lost seven seniors from last year, has most of its firepower back and looks to bring a balanced attack on game day. Moreno stressed the importance of everyone doing their job in order for the team to succeed.

“We’re just going to take things one week at a time and see how we go from there,” Moreno said.

He feels that last week’s bye allowed the team the extra time needed to scrimmage and work out some of the kinks in its game plan.

Although it’s early in the season, the game is an important one for both squads. Fisher would like nothing more than to start off the season with a big victory, and Knott needs this game to keep from falling behind the eight ball. Otherwise, they will need to win their two remaining games in order to make the playoffs.

Both teams seemed to be focused and ready for an early season showdown between the two possible playoff contenders.

Siegfried vs. Carroll

Carroll and Siegfried will face off on Sunday at 3 p.m. and both teams understand the significance of this game.

Carroll dropped its first game, a 14-12 heartbreaker to Zahm, and realizes that this game could make or break them.

“All the guys were disappointed with our performance on both sides of the ball,” Vermin captain Kory Wilmost said.

As a result, they have made steps to improve their performance.

Wilmot cited the squad’s intense practices throughout the entire week.

“We all now understand the importance of each and every game of this short season,” the Vermin captain said. Indeed, should Carroll lose on Sunday, the team would have only two more games and its playoff hopes would take a severe blow.

Meanwhile, Siegfried is looking to building on a strong defensive effort in a 9-0 shutout of Knott.

Captain Matt Wopperer provided the majority of the offense, returning an interception by Knott quarterback Matt Whittington for a first quarter touchdown and an early 7-0 lead. The Ramblers rounded out the scoring with a safety in the fourth quarter.

While Wopperer was pleased with his defense, the offense – shut out on the afternoon – was an area of concern.

“We didn’t play as well [against Knott] as we would have liked,” Wopperer said. “I was very happy with the defense, but we’re hoping to make some improvements on offense this week.”

Wopperer points to solid practice time as a cause for optimism heading into Sunday’s showdown with Carroll.

“We’ve had a good week of practice, and we have some confidence going into the game this week,” Wopperer said. “They beat us last year, so we have our work cut out for us.”

Although the defense was rock solid against Knott, Wopperer and the Ramblers have continued to emphasize its importance, especially if they hope to knock off the Vermin.

“We have been working on our defense in practice,” Wopperer said. “Our defense will have to be strong to win – defense is the key.”