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Men’s Interhall: Squads gear up for playoffs as chase for the Stadium begins

Joe Meixell | Friday, November 7, 2008

St. Edward’s vs. Keenan

Second-seeded St. Edward’s hopes to avoid an upset Sunday against seventh-seeded Keenan, whose play has steadily improved throughout the season.

After tying with Stanford 6-6 last week, Keenan is excited to be in the seven seed in the playoffs.

“We’ve started playing a lot stronger since the beginning of the year.” Knight captain Bart Dear said.

Dear also thinks his team has momentum going into the playoffs after playing tough with Stanford.

Last week, St. Edward’s explosive offense was locked up by Sorin’s defense in a 0-0 tie. The Gentlemen think the reason for last week’s offensive troubles, in which they gained less than 50 yards of total offense, may have been due to fall break.

“Fall break puts you out of sync a little bit, we’re just working on timing, adding a couple of nuances,” St. Ed’s coach Cameron Hogue said.

Hogue also said that St. Ed’s has been trying to develop, “an actual running game.”

The Knights hope to keep the Gentlemen’s offensive struggling by applying pressure to quarterback Matt Abeling and preventing the big play.

The upset-minded Knights think they can win Sunday with strong play on the offensive and defensive lines. They will also be looking to use their balanced defense to shut down the big plays of the Gentlemen. Hogue said he was expecting “tough defense” from Keenan Sunday.

The game will be played on Riehle Field at 2:00 Sunday.

Siegfried vs. Alumni

On paper, there is no conceivable way the eighth-seeded Alumni should be able to contend with the top-seeded Siegfried.

In four games this season, the Dawgs have a point differential of minus 24, while the Ramblers have racked up an impressive 65 points on offense to give them a differential of plus 62. Besides a high-octane offense, spearheaded by the three-headed monster of quarterback Max Young, fullback Dex Cure, and running back Marcus Young, Siegfried also fields a suffocating defense, which allowed an astoundingly low zero touchdowns on the year.

But the games are played for a reason, and on any given Sunday, even the most invulnerable teams could potentially stumble. Led by quarterback Pat Rushford, the Alumni Dawgs will look to control the clock, wearing down the Ramblers’ defense while keeping their vaunted offense off the field.

“We expect Alumni to come out intense since we’ve played them before. Even though we won 14-3, it was a hard-fought game until the end,” captain Kevin Kelly said.

The Dawgs played Siegfried closer than any other team this season, being the only team to put up any points against the well-disciplined Rambler defensive unit. This experience, coupled with a desire to play the role of spoiler might give Alumni just enough impetus to topple the colossus that has been Siegfried football this season.

“We are just try to keep things going the way they have been and make sure to stay focused and crisp on execution,” Kelly said.

Kickoff is Sunday at 1 p.m. at Riehle Fields.

Dillon vs. Stanford

A regular season rematch is in store Sunday when third-seeded Dillon takes on sixth-seeded Stanford.

The Big Red won Oct. 5 matchup 7-6, and captain Chris Cugliari said that the most important thing his team took away from that game went beyond Xs and Os.

“We hadn’t had a lot of luck against Stanford, so it was big to get that monkey off our back,” he said. “The biggest thing we took away from that game is that we know we can beat them.”

Dillon’s defense was the story of that game, with a key interception by cornerback Brian Shafer shifting the momentum.

“I would say our biggest strength is definitely our defense creating turnovers,” Cugliari said.

Cugliari said that his team has been focused on the psychological aspects of the game this week.

“We’ve been working on mentally going over responsibilities and we’re making sure that we’re not going to have any mental mistakes,” he said. “Ever since we’ve been back from fall break, we kicked it up a notch.”

Cugliari also said that even though Stanford made it to the championship last year, he’s confident his team had what it takes to make it to the Stadium.

“I think we definitely have what it takes,” he said. “It’s going to be a matter of all 23 guys showing up and being ready to give their best efforts Sunday. I think we definitely have the talent to make it there.”

Morrissey vs. Sorin

The quest for the Stadium begins this Sunday as undefeated Sorin takes on perennial powerhouse Morrissey for a spot in the semifinals.

Morrissey returns to the gridiron after a 21-6 rout of Knott last week that guaranteed the Manor the No. 5 seed in the playoffs. Morrissey will try to duplicate that effort against a Sorin defense that has been merciless all season.

Senior quarterback Joe McBrayer, who led Morrissey to an interhall championship two years ago, is confident his team’s experience will give them the edge this week.

“We have a lot of players who have been in this situation before,” McBrayer said. “We know what we have to do to win in the postseason.”

McBrayer will try to ignite the offense with help from senior wide receiver Kyle Anderson, who poses a deep threat on the perimeter.

But strong team defense has been Morrissey’s strong point all season.

Junior linebacker Phil Yuhas leads an aggressive defense that has overpowered teams with its speed and intensity. Senior lineman Mike Kaiser, known to his teammates as “The Black Hole,” will be doing the dirty work in the trenches.

Sorin, who clinched the No. 4 seed in the playoffs last week after a scoreless tie against St. Edward’s, is making its first playoff appearance in years. The Otters have not won an interhall football championship since 1888.

Led by cornerback Jordan Gonzalez and defensive lineman Matt Gamber, Sorin’s defense has carried the team through the regular season. Yielding only six points all season, the Otters have posted three consecutive shutouts.

Junior captain Robert Gallic is confident that the offense will find a way to score points if the defense maintains its high level of play.

“We always do just enough to get the job done,” Gallic said. “Our real concern is trying to come up with better team touchdown celebrations.”

While the Otters have been focusing on their touchdown dances, Morrissey has been all business in practice.

“We’ve been using our intense practices to springboard into teams,” McBrayer said. “We’re looking to light up the scoreboard this week.”

The two contenders face off this Sunday at 1:00 p.m. at Riehle Fields.