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Men’s Interhall Football: Battle for the Crooked Stick resumes Sunday

Eric Prister, Mike Gotimer, Peter Reisenaur, Laura Myers and Alex Barker | Friday, October 5, 2007

Fisher and Carroll will once again battle for the coveted Crooked Stick when the two teams meet Sunday at 2 p.m. on Riehle Field.

The traveling trophy currently resides in Fisher, after the Green Wave defeated the Vermin in last year’s final regular season game.

This year, Carroll comes into the game with an 0-2 record, but looks to improve its offense against Fisher’s stifling defense.

“We’re just going to stick to our game plan and try to move the ball effectively,” Vermin senior captain Kyle Kownacki said. “We have a lot of potential to have a strong offense; we just haven’t found our rhythm yet.”

Kownacki also considers the rivalry a positive factor.

“It elevates the intensity of the game because more is at stake,” he said.

Meanwhile, Fisher comes into this Sunday 1-0 after defeating the Sorin Otters 12-0 last weekend.

“We won the game by two touchdowns, so I’d say we played pretty well,” senior captain Bill Whitaker said.

The Green Wave has lofty goals this season, but Whitaker tries to remain focused on this week’s rivalry game.

“We prepare for every game like it’s the championship and we’ve succeeded so far, but we’ll be even more ready this Sunday,” he said.

No matter the opponent, though, Fisher sticks to the same game plan.

“We just have to play Fisher football. The only thing that can stop us is ourselves,” Whitaker said. “If we capitalize on our opportunities and make huge plays on D, then we should be pretty well off come Sunday.”

Keenan vs. Alumni

Keenan looks to continue its winning ways while Alumni looks to earn its first victory of the season this Sunday at 1 p.m. on Riehle Field.

Keenan enters the game with a 2-0 record. After beating Keough thoroughly in its first game of the season, Keenan topped defending champion Morrissey 9-6 in its last game on the legs of a 40-yard field goal and a key goal line stand at the end of the game.

Their early season performance has the Knights tied with rival dorm Stanford for first in the men’s gold league.

Despite such a hot start, Keenan sophomore captain Pat Burns thinks the Knights can do better.

“We have lived up to our expectations so far this year but we still have room to improve,” Burns said. “We want to make a big statement this weekend that we are the best team in this league by going out there and putting up some points, and getting our offense some momentum this weekend.”

Burns expects continued contributions from Keenan’s strong offensive line as the offense looks to improve.

Alumni had a bye last weekend, and it is 0-1 heading into this weekend’s game after an opening weekend loss to Morrissey.

“To beat Morrissey, Keenan stopped the pass, which is something we could not do and is the reason why we lost on three long bombs,” Alumni senior captain Bret Shapot said.

“We expect to play a tough game on defense and put together several solid offensive drives,” he continued. “Beating Morrissey does not give Keenan an easy game against Alumni.”

Shapot said senior linebacker Nick Fanslau and senior defensive end Dan Ott will be solid contributors on defense.

On offense, quarterback Pat Rushford should keep the Keenan defense on their toes. The freshman has emerged as a strong dual threat signal caller.

Keough vs. Dillon

Entering this weekend’s game against Dillon, Keough finds itself in a slightly unfamiliar position.

Keough is coming off its first win in years, after the Kangaroos beat West Quad rivals O’Neill 9-6 last Sunday on the heels of their first field goal attempt of the season. Their 1-1 record currently has them in the top four in the Men’s Gold League, which would be good enough to send the Kangaroos to the playoffs if they can maintain their success.

Other teams aren’t selling the Kangaroos short.

“From what I’ve seen, this Keough team is very good,” Dillon junior captain Alex Duffy said.

Keough plans to send Dillon home in the same way that it sent O’Neill home last weekend. To do so, it will have to see continued good play from quarterback Matt Briggeman.

Dillon looks to earn its first victory of the season against Keough after it lost its opener to Stanford 6-0 last week.

“We played well on both sides of the ball,” Duffy said, “but we kept shooting ourselves in the foot when we had chances to take over the game.”

Duffy, who serves as the Dillon running back, said Dillon has a very talented defense that played very well against Stanford. The offensive line is also very strong and athletic and opened up holes for Duffy to run through last week, and should give quarterback Joe Garigliano lots of time to throw as well.

Although Duffy gives Keough credit for its strong performance last week, he is still confident in his team.

“This is a must-win game for us, so we’re not taking any chances.” he said. “They are very big, but we will be ready for them.”

Keough and Dillon play at 2 p.m. Sunday at Riehle Field.

Knott vs. St. Edward’s

Knott (1-1) takes on St Ed’s (2-0) this weekend in an effort to ruin the Gentlemen’s perfect season at 3 p.m. at Riehle Field.

Coming off a bittersweet victory over Zahm in which their quarterback, Aidan Fitzgerald, tore his MCL, the Juggerknotts hope to build on the positive aspects of their game against the Zahmbies.

“We need to sustain our offense throughout the entire game,” said Fitzgerald, who is the Knott captain. “We need to make sure that our offense runs correctly the entire game.”

Due to Fitzgerald’s injury, the Juggerknotts will rely heavily on new quarterback freshman J.T Redshaw. However, he will inherit an offense that seems to have worked out whatever kinks they had at the start of the season.

“Our passing game really stepped up last week.” Fitzgerald said. “The backs, receivers, and linemen got their game plan in sync and started to click more as a unit.”

Fitzgerald preached the physical style of defense that he said Knott needs to play.

“We need to come out and hit someone in the mouth. Try to get them as frustrated as Zahm was last week.” Fitzgerald said. “We just need to go out and play football.”

On the other side of the ball, St. Ed’s is confident with its 2-0 start and thinks it has a strong team despite barely squeaking out a win last week.

While St. Ed’s was led by its offense last week, it will need freshman quarterback Matt Abeling to rebound from the two-interception effort he had against Carroll.

Both teams are trying to get their offense on track and say this will be the week they finally break out. The game may come down to whose freshman quarterback is able to break through first.

Zahm vs. Siegfried

The Zahmbies and Ramblers are no strangers to shutouts coming into Sunday’s matchup.

The two teams have not yet played a game that did not end in a shutout – Zahm on both sides. The Zahmbies have beaten Carroll 12-0, but lost 6-0 to Knott on Sunday. Siegfried blanked Knott 21-0 on Sept. 23.

Ramblers senior captain Tom Martin hopes to continue his team’s dominance when they play Zahm.

“Zahm’s a very strong team,” Martin said. “We’re preparing very hard in practice.”

While the defense has obviously been strong, Martin points to the offense as a major contributor to the team’s success.

“Our offense is very balanced,” Martin said. “We are able to use the run and pass equally well, which makes it difficult for teams to defend against us.”

Zahm’s defense has shown promise in its first two games, with sophomore Jared Carter contributing to the effort.

Zahm’s offense, highlighted by junior running back Theo Ossei-Anto, hopes to forget the loss and bring back the magic of the first game of the season.

The two teams will meet Sunday at 2 p.m. at Riehle Field.

Morrissey vs. O’Neill

The last time Morrissey and O’Neill shared the field, both were at the pinnacle of their seasons after making it all the way to the Stadium.

This time, however, neither team is satisfied with the situation it faces.

Coming off a shocking 9-6 loss to Keenan in which it was denied at the goal line with only seconds remaining, Morrissey is hoping to get back to its winning ways and gain momentum as it heads into the final stretch of the regular season.

“We need to bounce back from last week’s game and get focused on Sunday’s game because we cannot afford another loss,” senior captain Nick Bencomo said. “We have to win out from here in order to make the playoffs.”

As for O’Neill, this season has been everything but successful. Starting out 0-2 was unexpected just one season removed after reaching the finals.

“Our team is coming off of a devastating three-point loss.  We have to win to keep our playoff hopes alive. Last week against Keough, we did not bring our best game,” senior captain Patrick Conley said. “Hopefully this week will be different.”

Morrissey’s strength this year has been its defense, which has allowing just three points total to opposing offenses this year. Its weakness, which was exposed last week, is its special teams play and its offensive execution.

Just as Morrissey’s defense was putting together an inspiring performance, holding Keenan to minimal yardage last week, its lack of special teams practice allowed a huge punt return for a touchdown, which put the Manorites down by six.

“We were right there, but we just couldn’t come away with the victory,” Bencomo said.

O’Neill has put itself in dire straits with its 0-2 start and its inability to come through in the clutch with a vital score. The Mob was not far from winning either of its first two games, which were each decided by only one possession.

However, with a struggling offense, Conley said it will be imperative for the defense to step up and make some plays.

“Morrissey is a great passing team. They have showed that in all of their games this year,” Conley said. “Our pass defense must improve in order for us to win on Sunday.”