Men’s Interhall: Green Wave awaits Stanford
Kate Donlin, Bill Brink and Colin Reimer | Friday, October 27, 2006
The stage is set for a defensive showdown this weekend, as Stanford looks to upset top-seeded Fisher in the opening round of the playoffs.
The Griffins enter the postseason with an overall record of 2-2, while Fisher’s consistent domination on both sides of the ball made it the only undefeated team in the Blue division.
“For the most part, I am happy about our team’s efforts,” Stanford captain Brandon McLeod said. “But I am disappointed with the outcome. The team feels that we were a lot better than our 2-2 record for the season.”
The Griffins will have a tough time this weekend against the Green Wave. Fisher ended its season with a big win over their rivals from Carroll Hall, and the team is hoping it will be able to maintain that momentum deep into the postseason.
While Fisher is optimistic about its chances in the playoffs, it suffered a major setback at the end of the regular season. Against Carroll, Fisher quarterback Kevin Rabil was carried off the field in an ambulance. Rabil broke his ankle and is out for the rest of the season.
The Green Wave is counting on their back-up quarterback, Pat Gotebeski, to step up. Gotebeski showed he is ready to take on the role when he sealed the victory over Carroll with a 49-yard touchdown drive.
“The team has been practicing more this week to make sure that we are as prepared as possible going into Sunday’s game,” Rabil said. “We don’t want to leave anything on the table.”
Stanford, who lost to Alumni and Keenan, knows this weekend’s game will be tough, but the team thinks it is ready for the challenge. The Griffins have been working hard to prepare for the big game, and if the offense can dominate the tempo of the game, they are confident in their chances to upset Fisher.
“Fisher is a really good team – very sound offensively,” McLeod said. “And they have a very disciplined defense. I think our size, aggressiveness and overall team speed will be the advantage for us.”
The two teams will play on Sunday at 1:30 pm on the Riehle Fields.
Zahm vs. Morrissey
Can momentum trump talent?
Zahm has the two-game winning streak. Morrissey has the better record and a size advantage. One will prevail Sunday, when the Rabid Bats face the Manorites at 2:30 p.m. on Riehle North Field.
Morrissey’s size has not escaped Zahm captain Sean Wieland’s eye.
“We need to have a balanced attack,” he said. “They’re big, so we need to be able to run the ball so we can open up other facets of our offense. Their tight end is pretty tall, so we’ll definitely keep an eye on him.”
Zahm, at 2-2 with the No. 6 seed, is looking for the upset. Morrissey, who at 3-1 has the No. 3 seed, comes into the playoffs fresh off a loss to Keenan.
“We worked on being consistent in what we had,” Manorite captain Steve Klein said. “We had some miscommunications in the Keenan game, so we’ve worked on that.”
The success of both teams will hinge on the play of their linemen. Zahm must find a way to win the battle in the trenches against a larger Morrissey front to stay in this game.
“We need to stop them up front,” Wieland said. “The battle will be on the line.”
Morrissey has confidence in both its offensive and defensive lines and for good reason.
“Our offensive line has been great,” Klein said. “It’s given us options on offense and allowed us to pass. Our defense has played well across the board all season, especially our line and linebackers.”
Morrissey’s offensive line will have its hands full. Zahm’s defensive front four have had success this year in locking up their man and preventing them from reaching the backfield.
“We need to play the way we’ve played the last two weeks,” Wieland said. “We’ll do the same stuff.”
O’Neill vs. Carroll
Neither the Mob nor the Vermin have a clear advantage on Sunday, when Carroll squares off against O’Neill at 1:30 p.m. on Riehle South Field.
Both by chance – the two teams were 3-1 in the regular season. And by design – Carroll, the No. 4 seed, plays O’Neill, the No. 5 seed – this game is the closest match-up of the first round of the playoffs.
Carroll’s only loss came against No. 1-seeded Fisher, O’Neill lost to second-seeded Keenan. The winner will play Fisher or Stanford in the second round.
Both teams know the importance of the game, but they trust that the strategies that got them to the playoffs will continue to be successful.
“Nothing special,” Carroll captain Mike Versagli said, when asked what his team focused on this week. “We’ve prepared the same way. We’ll run plays that we feel we’re best at.”
O’Neill captain Pat Conley said the same thing.
“We haven’t worked on anything special,” Conley said. “We’re doing what we’ve been doing. We’ve been working on offense, working on defense, getting ready to play.”
Carroll hopes to get its pass offense on track after its loss to Fisher.
“We need to play better than against Fisher,” Versagli said. “We need to get our passing game on track and go from there.”
O’Neill, on the other hand, views the running game as the important factor of offensive success.
“We need to establish the run,” Conley said. “We’ll take what the defense is giving us, but we really need to establish the run.”
O’Neill’s defense has been strong all season, and Conley doesn’t expect any less on Sunday.
“Our defense has been pretty solid,” he said. We’ve had a few shutouts, and that’s what we’re looking for, is a shutout.”
Keenan vs. Siegfried
The Keenan Knights will look to continue their push for a return trip to Notre Dame Stadium when they face off against the 2-2 Siegfried Ramblers.
The game will be played Sunday at 2:30 p.m. on Stepan Fields.
However, while Keenan was the runner up last season, team captain Matt Gibson said that game is the farthest thing from his team’s mind.
“This is a new year,” he said. “We can’t focus on the past. This is not the same team as last year.”
Keenan rolled through the competition this fall en route to a 4-0 record. It knocked off highly-touted Morrissey in its final game of the season to clinch the Gold League regular season title.
Meanwhile, the Ramblers are reeling after a heartbreaking 14-13 loss in the final seconds to Zahm.
Siegfried will look to establish the run early with running backs Pat Manning and Matt Wopperer. This dual threat was a point of emphasis for Gibson and his team during the week.
“We have to stop their rushing attack,” he said. “This game will most likely be decided by the play of the lines.”
Each team’s most recent game was prior to Fall Break, over three weeks ago.
“The break was good to get guys rested and healthy,” Gibson said. “We got back to the grind as usual this week.”
One interesting thing to watch will be the head-to-head battle between the Knights’ starting back, Alex Gonzalez, and the Ramblers’ tandem of Wopperer and Manning.
Gibson also pointed to his linebacker trio of Adam Fisher, Joe Pappas and Alex Staffieri as potential game-changers.
On the flipside, Pablo Nava, Siegfried’s kicker, is close to automatic. If the game is decided by the special teams, he will be an asset.