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Men’s Interhall Football: Intense dorm rivalry sets stage for Stadium battle

Joe Meixell | Friday, November 18, 2005

With victories two weeks ago in the semifinals, Keenan and Zahm added a little allure to one of Notre Dame’s biggest dorm rivalries. Sunday, that dorm rivalry will serve as the backdrop to the biggest men’s interhall football game of the year.

Zahm and Keenan won out in the Blue and Gold leagues, respectively, and will battle for the interhall championship in Notre Same Stadium.

“I am excited to play in Notre Dame Stadium, obviously, and play for the championship of the best intramural football in the country, especially as my last football game ever,” senior Zahm captain Pat Gourley said.

His counterpart at Keenan agreed.

“We are excited for the amazing opportunity to play in the Stadium,” Knights captain and lineman Vince Lzyinski said. “It’s been a dream of mine and most of the guys on the team for as long as we can remember. Just to be able to step foot on that hallowed ground of Rockne and Montana is surreal.”

For many Knights, however, Sunday will not be their first time playing in the championship game, as Keenan captured the interhall championship last fall, capping an undefeated season. This year, the Knights come to the field with one loss to Dillon, while the Bats fly in with a perfect record.

Both teams feel they have greatly improved on and off the field throughout the course of the season.

“Our team’s rushing game has improved the most,” Gourley said. “Linemen are making holes bigger and [Zahm running back] Theo Ossei-Anto is finding them better than [he was] at the beginning of the season.”

Lyzinski said he too has seen progress in his team since the beginning of the season.

“We’ve really come together this year as a team, and that is our biggest improvement,” he said. “At the start of the year, it seemed like we had the talent to do something special, especially with guys like Dan Zenker, Ben Kaplan and Brandan Hall. And it’s been the unselfish team attitude that really has brought that talent out.”

Each captain said his team has enough playmakers ready to fight for the interhall title for his team to win Sunday.

Lyzynski said the Knights are strongest at skill positions.

“We have an great mix of upperclassman and underclassmen, and honestly we have some guys who can just flat-out play,” he said. “Our skill position players with the Zenker brothers, Rob Coly at quarterback and Alex Staffieri at halfback give us so many threats on offense, and that allows us to be a very balanced offensive team.”

Lyzynski said the Keenan linemen and defense complement the Knights’ offensive weapons well.

“Our line has really pulled together in the last few weeks, and we’re hoping to continue that trend into the Stadium,” he said. “Defensively, I can’t say enough. Hall, Kaplan, linebacker Ben Ramsour and the rest of our defense has really been able to shut down the other teams and always put us in a position to win. Heck, we’ve let up 13 points total on the season. That says enough about our ‘D.'”

Gourley, on the other hand, attributes the Bats’ outstanding record to the team bond that has developed during the season.

“Factors that led to our team’s success have been the chemistry and the commitment of this team,” he said. “We get just about everyone out for practices. Our trust in each other is the best I have seen in my four years.”

Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m. Sunday in Notre Dame Stadium.