Welsh Family looks for redemption
Joe Everett | Friday, November 13, 2015
No team has been better this season than top-ranked Welsh Family, and the last hurdle to completing the Whirlwinds’ mission comes courtesy of their matchup against No. 2 Howard in the women’s interhall football championship.
Welsh Family, wielding an impressive record of 7-1, has dominated their opponents throughout the season, with its lone loss coming against Ryan. In fact, the Whirlwinds have reeled off four straight victories in which the mercy-rule was enforced, including playoff victories against No. 8 Pangborn and No. 4 Farley.
This stretch of dominance is not new to Welsh Family, which went a perfect 8-0 last season before being upset by Pangborn in the championship, 18-7. It’s a loss that still hurts for the Whirlwinds, and one that junior co-captain and quarterback Rachel Wimsatt said inspired her to lead the Whirlwinds back to the championship this year.
“We’ve set a standard in Welsh Fam: stadium or bust,” Wimsatt said. “I’m nervous and excited because this would be the first victory for Welsh Family in a while, so we hope to bring the championship back to the ‘Fam.’”
The team has many determined upperclassmen on its roster, and senior receiver Catherine Michels reflected on what playing in the championship means for her during her final year.
“It’s an honor, as a senior,” Michels said. “We have a great group of girls, and we want to make the most of this opportunity”.
Michels, a favorite target of Wimsatt, is a key contributor within a deep, experienced and talented receiving corps. Wimsatt said her relationship with the receivers has been a large reason for Welsh’s Family’s offensive success this season.
“We’ve been together for so long, I know all their moves and route angles,” Wimsatt said. “They make my job easy because they trust that I’ll get it to them, and I trust that they’ll catch it”.
Wimsatt and her receivers look to continue that connection into the championship game where they face a Howard team that boasts some offensive firepower of it’s own. Welsh Family junior co-captain and cornerback Sharon Chiang said she looks forward to testing the Whirlwinds defense against the Ducks, though.
“[Howard] beat Farley, so we know they’re good,” Chaing said. “I trust our defense can stop them — we just need to make sure we play our game.”
Chiang has reason to be optimistic about her defense against the Ducks. Aside from the game against Ryan, the Whirlwinds have given up a grand total of 14 points in seven games. Senior linebacker Christina Payne said the chemistry on defense is one of the main reasons for its success.
“It comes down to communication and having trust in one another on the field,” Payne said. “We make adjustments when we need to and look to improve each time we’re out there.”
Looking to redeem themselves after their heartbreaking loss in the championship last season, good practices throughout the season have been a priority for the Whirlwinds. Several members of the team noted the quality of the freshmen on the team and the infusion of fun into practice by their new coaches, but Chiang particularly emphasized that practice continually sharpens her team on both sides of the ball.
“Practices are really good for us because we have players like Ariel [Navotas] who are incredibly fast and hard to guard,” Chiang said. “Our offense goes up against the best defense in practice, and we feel our defense goes up against the best offense as well.”
Welsh Family has talent, experience, dedication and the chance to bring home the championship Sunday afternoon. The key will be translating that into one more great team performance at Notre Dame Stadium.