Men’s Interhall Semifinals: Stadium awaits winners
Reimer, Colin and Kaiser, Tim | Friday, November 4, 2005
A trip to Notre Dame Stadium is on the line Sunday as top-seeded Zahm clashes with Morrissey at 1 p.m. at Riehle Field, the first of two men’s interhall semifinal contests that day.
The game features teams that possess power running games and stingy defenses. Both squads pulled out close wins last week and are prepared for what promises to be a very physical battle.
The Bats dodged several late bullets last week to pull out a 14-0 win over O’Neill. Zahm captain Pat Gourley said he was disappointed the defense allowed so many yards, as he believed the game was closer than the score indicated. However, he feels the team has to move on.
“We’re really trying to take the positives out of it,” Gourley said. “Our corners really stepped it up in the fourth quarter, and our red zone defense was key to winning.”
The Bats forced a turnover on downs three times inside their own 20-yard line to preserve the victory.
Gourley was quick to point out his undefeated team was not looking ahead to the championship game.
“We’re not expecting it to be easy,” he said. “Everyone knows it. It’s going to come down to who wants it more.”
The Bats’ captain also mentioned that the game could very well be decided by whoever controls the line of scrimmage. That will be key in stopping the vaunted Morrissey rushing attack, he said.
Led by team captain and fullback Nick Klein, the Manorites hope to be the first team to solve Zahm’s stellar defense.
“We know that they have a good defense,” Klein said. “But we just have to wait and see how our guys handle it.”
Klein, who rushed for 86 yards last week, also commented on the importance of winning the battle in the trenches.
Last week, Morrissey pulled out a thrilling 13-7 win over Siegfried, with Klein scoring the winning touchdown with 23 seconds remaining in the game.
Despite such an emotional finish, Klein assured that his team would be mentally prepared for Sunday’s game.
“We don’t want to focus on fearing a letdown,” Klein said. “We have to get our guys to realize how close we are to the Stadium.”
Defensively, Morrissey may have its hands full in containing the trio of quarterback Sean Wieland, who threw two touchdowns last week, wide receiver Jake Richardville and tailback Theo Ossei-Anto.
“They have a balanced attack, but we think that we can give them a good game,” Klein said.
Defensive linemen John Bush and defensive back Dan Kiesa hope to play pivotal roles in stopping the Zahm offense.
On the other side of the ball, Bob McQuiston, who recorded two sacks last week, and Jake McDonald lead a unit that recorded seven sacks against O’Neill.
Keenan vs. Carroll
This Sunday, the Blue league’s second-place finisher will clash with the Gold league’s best in a men’s interhall semifinal between Keenan and Carroll.
Few teams have shown the balance and dominance of these two squads, each standing at 4-1 after wins in their respective quarterfinal games. Last week Keenan easily handled Sorin, shutting the Otters out 14-0. Despite the win, Knights’ captain Vince Lyzinsk wasn’t too impressed with his team’s play.
“We didn’t play very well against Sorin, we actually had a pretty bad game,” he said. “We couldn’t run last week, and if we can’t run this week, we won’t win.”
Keenan’s two touchdowns both came courtesy of quarterback Rob Colly – one on a quarterback sneak and the other on a 60-yard pass from Colly to receiver Dan Zenker. Lyzinski said the Knights have practiced hard this week for a chance to go to the championship game in Notre Dame Stadium.
“They’re a really good team, so we got back to fundamentals during practice, and now we’re ready to play the game,” he said. “The intensity has been stepped up.”
Carroll also scored two touchdowns in its first round victory over Dillon, but the outcome was much closer then Keenan’s win over Sorin. The Vermin found themselves down 6-0 at the half to the Big Red, but overcame the deficit and a touchdown by Dillon to win 14-13. Mark Bennett caught a long touchdown pass, and captain Kory Wilmot scored on a 5-yard run to account for the two Vermin scores.
The narrow victory seems to have reinforced Carroll’s feeling that a championship this season is meant to be.
“We have a lot of confidence,” Wilmot said. “We’ve won our last four games, and we’re riding pretty high on confidence. Our guys look pretty good. They’re intense; they know the significance of this game.”
Both teams feel they can win Sunday’s matchup. But both have a lot of respect for their opponents and neither is expecting an easy victory.
“Keenan is a really good team, they have a lot of guys who can play,” Wilmot said. “The key is defense. If our defense comes to play, we can beat anybody. That whole side of the ball has a lot of responsibility. They have a good offense, and our defense has a big job to do this week.”
“We’re ready,” Lyzinski said, “When we look at Carroll, we see a mirror image – the same weapons on offense, the same tough defense. We know how good we can be, and how good they can be too.”
“We’re going to do what we do and we expect them to do the same,” Wilmot said. “The better team will win.