Knights look to return to championship against Ramblers
Marek Mazurek | Thursday, November 13, 2014
No. 2 Keenan and No. 6 Siegfried face off Sunday in one of two semifinal matchups. The winner will play in Notre Dame Stadium for a chance at the men’s interhall championship.
Keenan heads into the game coming off a victory against No. 7 Sorin, while Siegfried will enter Sunday’s matchup following an upset over No. 3 Carroll. Keenan captain and junior Jon Wiese said that his team is optimistic about the game.
“We feel really confident, as we have all season,” Wiese said. “We know Siegfried is a good team and we respect how well they’ve done so far, but we know that if we play to our potential and do our jobs that we can beat anyone in the league.”
Likewise, Siegfried captain and junior Grady Schmidt said that his team is ready to go after beating Carroll.
“We feel good,” Schmidt said. “We’re playing our best football of the season, but know that the best is yet to come. We’re a confident group, and the win against Carroll was a great boost for us. We know that Keenan is the next step to get where we want to go.”
Both captains said there are things they need to address this week in practice. For Keenan, Wiese said that it is taking care of the fundamentals.
“[We need to] work on the little things,” Wiese said. “We left two touchdowns on the field that should have been [easy] last game and that just won’t cut it every week. Interhall games are short so we need to make the most out of our opportunities.”
For Siegfried, Schmidt said the emphasis is on focusing on the task at hand.
“We just need to stay focused so we can execute,” Schmidt said. “If everyone does what they are supposed to do, we know that we have the talent to matchup favorably with anyone.”
Keenan’s strong defense has carried it through the regular season and one round of the playoffs, and Wiese said how the Knights match up with Siegfried will be a deciding factor in the game.
“Our defense is stout,” Wiese said. “We have great experienced leadership along with a lot of young talent. Our defense does a great job of flying to the ball and gang tackling. We play with a nasty mentality that has lead to a lot of stops, turnovers and defensive scores.”
For Siegfried, Schmidt said his team stacks up favorably to Keenan.
“We scrimmaged them before the season and liked the way that we looked against them, but we know they are a different team than they were three months ago,” Schmidt said. “Year after year, Keenan is one of the better teams, so we respect what they do, but we’ve changed as well and I like how we match up athletically with any other dorm.”
Schmidt said his team has been preparing for this moment all season.
“It’s why we play, and it’s the main goal from day one,” Schmidt said. “From our first tryout to our last practice, we end by saying ‘Stadium on 3’ so it’s always a focus. If we win, it will be something that we remember for the rest of our lives, so we know it’s a big deal. At this point, we’re ready to make the dream a reality.”
Keenan won the championship two years ago, so Wiese said his some of the team knows what it feels like to play in big games.
“A championship has been our goal all season and is the benchmark for success for our team,” Wiese said. “Many of the juniors and seniors were on the team that won the championship in the stadium two years ago and are just as hungry to get back as the guys who have never been. We understand that playing in Notre Dame Stadium is an experience very few people will ever have, and we’re going to fight this weekend in order to get there.”
Schmidt said the game will ultimately be decided in the trenches.
“It’s going to be won at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball,” said Schmidt.
Wiese, however, said Keenan’s key to victory will be avoiding missteps and playing its own game.
“Limit mistakes, finish drives and don’t turn the ball over,” said Wiese.
Keenan and Siegfried will play at 2:15 p.m. at Riehle Fields on Sunday.