Men’s Interhall: Keenan and Alumni to square off in first round
Observer Sports Writers | Friday, November 2, 2012
By SAMANTHA ZUBA
Leadership and teamwork have no column on the stat sheet, but No. 7 Alumni and No. 2 Keenan will put these qualities on display when they face off in the quarterfinals of the playoffs Sunday.
Alumni junior captain Tom O’Sullivan attributed the Dawgs’ regular season success to leadership from upperclassman and dominant defensive performances.
“We have a lot of leadership that has played interhall for three or four years, like junior quarterback Will Cronin,” O’Sullivan said. “Our defense has played well all year. We like to shut teams down. If we give [up] no points, we can’t lose.”
Alumni (3-1) played the regular season in a division typified by its defenses and strong play at the line of scrimmage. O’Sullivan said while Keenan’s dynamic offense could present a challenge, Alumni is ready.
“Their division is much more offensive-minded versus ours which is based on defense,” O’Sullivan said. “It should be a good clash of their powerful offense and our powerful defense, and hopefully the defense prevails.”
Alumni’s defense will have to shut down Keenan’s slew of talented receivers: junior Jeremy Riche and seniors Alex Green, Trevor Yerrick and Nate Carr. Keenan senior captain and quarterback Andrew McDonough said the Knights (3-0-1) will rely on their same regular season strategy that featured these players.
“We’re going to stick to the same game plan we had all season: Get the ball to our play-making wide receivers, control the line of scrimmage,” McDonough said. “If we do that, I’m optimistic about our chances.”
McDonough was quick to add, however, the Knights are by no means one-dimensional. Keenan’s emphasis on working as a team helped it overcome challenges this season, McDonough said.
“When you look at our football team, what sticks out is the unity of our team,” McDonough said. “We’ve faced some adversity with some guys getting injured. We haven’t played with a full roster since the first game of the season, but our motto has always been next man up. We’ve had young guys stepping up into key roles. I’m really excited.”
Keenan and Alumni clash in the quarterfinals Sunday at 2:15 p.m. at Riehle Fields at Stepan.
Contact Samantha Zuba at [email protected]
Sorin vs. Dillon
By MARY GREEN
No. 1 Sorin aims to extend its undefeated season in the opening round of the playoffs Sunday, but it first must defeat a familiar foe.
The Otters (4-0) and No. 8 Dillon have met in the past two championship games, with the Big Red (2-2) taking the 2011 title. This year, however, the two squads will square off in the quarterfinals.
For the Otters, the 2010 champions, the feeling they are the team to beat is nothing new or unexpected, senior captain, linebacker and running back Ryan Robinson said.
“We feel like we’ve had a target on our back the past two seasons, so it’s something that we’re used to by now,” Robinson said.
Despite its perfect record, Sorin’s trip to the postseason did not come easily. In a midseason matchup with Carroll on Sept. 30, senior quarterback Ted Spinelli suffered a concussion and missed the following two games.
The Otters caught a stroke of luck when both Fisher and St. Edward’s forfeited those contests, but Robinson said his squad does not plan on losing momentum against the Big Red.
Robinson said Sorin will need a strong effort on both sides of the ball to defeat Dillon.
“Dillon’s a very good team, and we know them well,” Robinson said. “They have a good running game, and they spread the field and pass well, so we need to be solid on defense. Offensively, we need to stick to the basics of running well and then take what their defense gives to us.”
With the uncertainty of South Bend weather in November, the team with the better ground game could very well be the winner, Dillon junior captain and quarterback Kevin Fink said.
“We know the weather could be an issue, so we’ll probably run the ball and Sorin will too, so we’re going to focus on stopping their running game,” Fink said.
Anchored by sophomore safety Colin Terndrup in the secondary, the Big Red defense has impressed Fink throughout the season. The captain said he will look to a physical defense to keep the Otters off the scoreboard.
“We just want to come out and match their physicality,” Fink said.
Dillon and Sorin face off Sunday at 1 p.m. at Riehle Fields at Stepan.
Contact Mary Green at [email protected]
Siegfried vs. Keough
By CASEY KARNES
In the first round of the playoffs, No. 4 Keough hopes to continue its historically good season against traditional powerhouse No. 5 Siegfried on Sunday.
The Kangaroos (3-0-1) are in the midst of their best campaign in recent memory. Keough’s undefeated regular season has given the Kangaroos hope they can reach their ultimate goal: a trip to Notre Dame Stadium.
“The whole team is looking forward to the Stadium,” Keough freshman safety Mitch Patin said. “The whole hall has really rallied around our team. … Everyone is excited about our success this year.”
Siegfried (3-1), on the other hand, is hoping to replicate the success of prior years with a familiar formula: practice.
“It’s win or go home, so we had to have a good week of practice,” sophomore quarterback Nate Burggraf said. “We have the talent, we just need to make sure everyone is on the same page.”
The Ramblers have relied heavily on senior captain and running back David Whitmore for offense, but they also have not been afraid to air it out with Burggraf.
Siegfried is carrying the momentum of a three-game winning streak into the playoffs but will have to get through a tough Kangaroo defense led by Patin. However, Burgraff said he believes the Ramblers are up to the challenge.
“[David Whitmore] is one of the top players in the league,” Burggraf said. “We’re going to take what the defense gives us. We know we can run the ball.”
The Ramblers defense will be similarly challenged by Keough’s versatile offense, led by freshman quarterback Nick Nissen and junior running back Mike Fischer.
“We have the athletes, we just need to execute,” Patin said. “Consistency is our focus.”
One possible factor in Sunday’s matchup is the potentially cold and rainy weather. However, Burggraf said the Ramblers will not completely alter their play-calling if the conditions are poor.
“The worse the weather, the better chance we run the ball, but that doesn’t mean we will be afraid to air it out,” Burggraf said.
Siegfried and Keough clash Sunday at Riehle Fields at Stepan at 1 p.m.
Contact Casey Karnes at [email protected]
Knott vs. Fisher
By KIT LOUGHRAN
The race for the championship kicks off Sunday as No. 3 Knott takes on No. 6 Fisher in the first round of the playoffs.
The Juggerknotts (3-1) secured a playoff berth with their 13-7 victory over Duncan on Sunday, and the Green Wave (3-1) dominated Carroll with a 27-6 win the same day, which placed them second in the Gold Division.
According to Fisher senior captain and offensive lineman Matt Hart and Knott senior captain and running back Joe Beglane, both teams are ready to begin their playoff pushes.
“We’ve been running the ball really well all season,” Beglane said. “We’ve also implemented a solid passing game within our running offense.”
Beglane said Knott will also look to its stout defense, which allowed just 20 total points in the regular season.
Hart said the Green Wave will need their defense to lead the team while ensuring that the offense steps up as well.
“We want to make sure our defense plays well,” Hart said. “Our power running game will be sure to carry over into this game, and we will keep our opponent honest with our passing game.”
Hart said the Fisher offense emanates from junior quarterback Joe Paggi, whose passing and running abilities propel the Green Wave’s attack.
Though Fisher did not make it to the playoffs last year, the team is approaching its playoff appearance with confidence and readiness to win, Hart said.
Knott, meanwhile, hopes to atone for its first-round playoff loss last year with a win this time around, Beglane said.
The Juggerknotts and Green Wave will battle at 2:15 p.m. at Riehle Fields at Stepan on Sunday.
Contact Kit Loughran at [email protected]