With a spot in the championship game on the line, top-seeded Welsh Family will look to maintain its undefeated streak against last year’s runner-up, fourth-seeded Ryan, in one of two semifinal contests Sunday.
In last week’s quarterfinals, the Wildcats (5-2) faced Pasquerilla West in a rematch of the 2013 title game, where the Wildcats fell short and the Purple Weasels secured the championship with a 19-13 win.
This year, however, Ryan came out on top with a 14-6 victory, and now the Wildcats will fight for another chance at the title in Notre Dame Stadium, Ryan senior captain Tatum Snyder said.
“We have been working on executing our game plans well,” Snyder said. “We practice hard and we play hard.”
The Whirlwinds (7-0) have shown significant improvement from last year’s performance en route to a perfect regular season. Welsh Family was eliminated by Pasquerilla West in the quarterfinals last year and came back stronger thanks to a combination of a shut-down defense and good chemistry, freshman linebacker Cece Allison said.
“This year, we’ve done a great job forming a solid team,” Allison said. “All the players regardless of grade level and ability get along really well. We have a really cohesive team.”
Ryan will rely on its younger players to get the team back to Notre Dame Stadium. Individual players to watch for include sophomore receiver Emily Tessitore and sophomore defensive lineman Cathy Baxter, who had a strong performance at the end of the first playoff game, Snyder said.
“We have played extremely well [this season],” Snyder said. “We are a young team with only one senior and three juniors. The underclassmen have really stepped up and played well.”
Susan Zhu | The Observer
Ryan will look to return to Notre Dame Stadium while Welsh Family will try to continue its unbeaten season when the two teams meet at LaBar Practice Facility at 5 p.m. Sunday.