Morrissey repeats as champions with win over Keenan
Maureen Schweninger | Monday, November 16, 2015
The men of Morrissey laid claim to their second consecutive interhall title with a 12-0 win over Keenan at Notre Dame Stadium on Sunday.
A few key plays made the difference for the Manor in a game riddled with turnovers, penalties and emotion on both sides of the ball.
On Keenan’s opening drive, Morrissey junior linebacker Spencer Scannell picked off Knights senior quarterback Aaron DiGenova, but the Manor went four-and-out on its ensuing possession.
The Knights then picked up momentum and moved into Morrissey territory, but freshman cornerback Jarod Luedecker quashed that with another interception of DiGenova that he returned 68 yards for a touchdown and the game’s first score.
Luedecker gave credit for the play to his team’s defensive preparation.
“[Our defensive coordinator] had great schemes today,” Luedecker said. “I want to give a lot of thanks to him. He told us they were going to throw those short routes. When I saw that one, I just cut really hard on it, and I got in a good position to make a play. It was a great feeling to get in the end zone.”
In the second quarter, Keenan appeared to have recovered a bobbled punt in the end zone for a touchdown, but the officials ruled it a touchback for Morrissey. Sophomore quarterback Declan Zidar capped off the ensuing drive with a 34-yard pass to Luedecker for his second score of the game, this time as a receiver.
Zidar said the freshman provided the Manor with a huge spark at the beginning of the game.
“Jarod gave us a lot of momentum,” Zidar said. “That interception was huge, and the touchdown pass right before the half was also big. After that point, we knew the defense could hold them the rest of the game.”
Four more turnovers and six penalties stalled the offenses of both teams in the second half. The Knights forced two fumbles, recovered by sophomore Tony Rogari and senior captain Seamus Ronan, and their squad held standout senior running back Hunter White to 41 yards on 15 carries.
“[Morrissey] played their offense, and we stopped them, except for one big play,” Ronan said. “But defensively, they just had us the whole game. They really stopped our offense.”
The Manor stood strong against Keenan’s formidable air attack. Senior cornerback Peter Ciuffo came up with two interceptions for Morrissey in the fourth quarter, the second of which sealed game on the Knights’ final possession. DiGenova, the Keenan quarterback, completed 6-of-30 passes, finishing with four interceptions and only 54 yards on the day.
“We couldn’t get into a rhythm like we usually do,” freshman receiver Lukas Cepkauskas said. “We got some good short passes, definitely showed some great plays, but we just couldn’t finish at the end.”
It was a frustrating finish for the Knights, who were hungry for revenge following their loss to Morrissey in last year’s final. Still, Ronan said he has high hopes for his team ahead.
“The future is still bright for Keenan Hall,” Ronan said. “We have a strong freshman and sophomore class with two very talented junior captains. We lost in the finals the past two years, and it’s been a tight game each time. We have full expectations we’ll be back here next year.”
Morrissey senior coach Erik Rayno said the euphoria of back-to-back interhall championships will not wear off any time soon for the Manor. The team will cherish the moment but also prepare to make a run for its third title in the stadium next fall, Rayno said.
“This means so much,” Rayno said. “We were talking about it before during our prayer service — not a lot of teams have gone back-to-back here. Our names are down forever in doing that. And we have a young team right now. So while I won’t be around, we’ve got the pieces in place to hopefully make a couple more runs.”