Men’s halls prepare for the playoffs
Duncan v. Fisher
By Paris Shirley
While the Notre Dame varsity football team gears up for a playoff push, members of the No. 9 seed Duncan Highlanders (2-1) and No. 8 seed Fisher Green Wave (2-1) will welcome the opportunity for glory this Sunday as they open up the interhall football playoffs.
Implications loom large as well this weekend as Duncan and Fisher are familiar foes. The two teams met before this season in the season opener, but due to a rain delay in the middle of the third quarter had to postpone the finish.
In that contest, Fisher held the temporary lead over Duncan by a score of 12-7, but upon finishing the match a couple of weeks later, it was the Highlanders that shut out Fisher while adding a touchdown of their own in the fourth quarter to win 15-12.
Duncan’s sophomore captain, Kyle Tomshack, trusts in his team’s familiarity with its opponent and believes that the changes the Highlanders made in the weeks and games between their delayed matchup with Fisher were warranted in the come-from-behind victory.
Tomshack also cited the team’s experience as an advantage that could spark a deep playoff run similar to last year’s. He spoke of the extensive upperclassmen leadership that was a byproduct of Duncan’s relative “newness” as a dorm when they were underclassmen.
“[The upperclassmen players] really bonded together to put Duncan on the map,” Tomshack said.
After making their way to the championship only to lose to Stanford in the previous year’s playoffs, this year’s Highlanders will not only benefit from the experience that run provided, but the desire to get back and accomplish what the team fell just short in doing last season.
Pay attention to the war in the trenches for this one, as both Tomshack and Fisher senior captain Dan Ridzik have touted the quality of their respective linemen.
The Fisher Green Wave and the Duncan Highlanders kick off Sunday at 1 p.m. at Ricci Family Fields.
Dunne v. Knott
By Peter Baltes
The seventh-seeded Dunne Sentinels (2-1) and the No. 10-seed Knott Juggerknotts (1-2) are set to face each other in the first round of the interhall football playoffs. The stakes are getting high, and both teams know that a strong showing is paramount if they hope to avoid elimination.
Dunne and Knott are no strangers to each other. When the Sentinels and Juggerknotts met in a regular season contest earlier this year, Dunne was able to pull away with a 10-7 victory. Both teams have ample information on the other’s playing styles, and will be looking to exploit any weaknesses they have found.
The Sentinels would initially appear to be the favorites in this matchup. Not only did they defeat Knott already this season, but finished with winning record and earned a higher seed than the Juggerknotts. Hugo Kostelni, Dunne’s sophomore captain, said he is proud of his team’s achievement so far and is pleased with the level of play the Sentinels exhibited in the first three weeks of interhall competition.
“We had a great regular season,” Kostelni said. “We were undefeated going into the game against Siegfried [in Week 3]. We lost, but I don’t think the score really indicates how well we were doing as a team in that game. We’ve really come together as a team, and we’re playing some great football, which is all you can really ask for.”
Dunne Hall is only in its second year of operation. To Kostelni, this game is more than a playoff. It is a chance to help solidify Dunne’s status as a part of the Notre Dame community and an opportunity to craft the hall’s emerging sense of identity.
“For Dunne, the goals go way beyond the playoffs,” Kostelni said. “We’re the new dorm on the campus and we’re looking to build tradition. Football is part of that. That kind of excellence and that brotherhood of being on the football team is so important for Dunne. Whether we win or lose in the playoffs, we’re still building that team and that tradition, and that’s what’s important.”
Knott, while finishing as the tenth seed, has high hopes for moving on in the playoffs this fall. The Juggerknotts exhibited solid play throughout the regular season, and secured a significant 8-0 victory against Sorin in Week 3 to gain significant momentum entering the playoffs. Knott senior captain Carl Schiro said he believes that the Juggerknotts are in prime position to be successful.
“I always thought it was kind of a work in progress,” Schiro said. “We should be hitting full stride by the playoffs, which is good. And that win [over Sorin] should definitely give us momentum going into this game.”
Schiro said he feels there is a lot to learn from Knott’s previous meeting with the Sentinels. While they are a talented team, he said, Knott is in position to win the game if it can slow Dunne’s powerful rushing attack and keep the Sentinels’ defensive front in check. According to him, the game will be won or lost in the trenches.
“[Dunne is] a solid team,” Schiro said. “They’ve got a really good running game, a really good front seven. We’re going to definitely be telling our linemen to get ready for a big challenge. We’re hoping to capitalize on key plays and win this time.”
The game will kick off at 3:30 p.m. this Sunday at Ricci Family Fields.
St. Edward’s v. Alumni
By Jack Murray
The regular season is now over, and for the No. 12-seeded St. Edward’s Gentlemen (1-2) and the No. 5 seed Alumni Dawgs (2-1), this week’s game holds more meaning than an average playoff matchup.
After completing a semifinal run last year that left them one game short of playing in the stadium, this year has been all about making it back for another chance at the championship for the Gentlemen. The team’s mission and confidence was restated by St. Edward’s senior captain Alex Schelhorn, who has his team focused on getting back to the semifinals for a second year in a row.
“Coming off our semifinals loss last year, we are hungry at a shot to play in the stadium this year,” Schelhorn said. “We feel Steds is the best 1-2 team on campus. We’ve dealt with a lot of injuries, but as our bruises heal we become a stronger team. A healthy Steds team is a scary sight for the rest of the league.”
Led by dominate play on special teams by senior kicker and punter Brandon Ryan as well as arguably the best linebacker corps on campus, St. Edward’s has the ability to return to the semifinals by knocking off a stingy Alumni squad.
Schelhorn said he isn’t looking past the ability and talent of Alumni to come away with the win.
“Steds is most worried about freshman standout Sam Hunt,” Schelhorn said. “Hunt is usually a friend of Steds, but on Sunday he will be our enemy.”
On the other side of the ball for Alumni, this game is all about taking the next step in returning to competing for championships.
For senior Alumni captain Tom Hellios, this year’s playoffs are all about returning to the glory days and cementing the rebuild of the program.
“Four years ago, the Dawgs lost in the stadium and since then have dealt with a couple rebuilding years working on recruiting and organization,” Hellios said. “Last year, Alumni made a return to the playoffs after finishing the regular season 2-1 with a loss in the first round. This year, Alumni has a strong group of seniors that have been working hard to try and make it back into Notre Dame Stadium.”
Excited by another opportunity to play football, Hellios said he and the rest of the Alumni players are just looking forward to having one more game.
“Playoffs are always an exciting time of the year, and the opportunity to play football beyond high school in itself is always a lot of fun,” Hellios said. “Really we’re just looking forward to another game with a bit higher stakes.”
It has yet to be seen whether Alumni can fulfill its goal and return to its former glory, but with an offense and defense that is clicking on all cylinders, an Alumni victory on Sunday is a real possibility.
Whether or not the two teams have different reasons for playing the game, it is quite certain that both are looking to build of successful seasons and make a run for the championship.
The matchup will kickoff at 2:15 p.m. Sunday at Ricci Family Fields.
Keenan v. O’Neill
By Ellie Olmanson
No. 13-seeded O’Neill (0-3) are looking to upset the fourth-seeded Keenan Knights (2-1) this Sunday during the first round of interhall football playoffs.
Keenan’s junior captain Daniel Neuson said that coming off fall break, both teams will aim to use this time to focus their energy on advancing through playoffs and getting the eventual bid to the championship game in the stadium.
“This week, we’re focusing on solidifying our core plays and formations,” Neuson said. “We’re really trying to take advantage of all of the free time we’ve had since our last game and use it to put in some new twists on our schemes.”
Sophomore O’Neill captain Brendan Burke said his squad been able to scout Keenan’s play and are focusing on “playing to their opponents weaknesses.”
“We really are trying get our defense off the field and give our offense a chance to make plays this game,” Burke said. “Keenan has a good offense so we’re going to need to learn how to combat it.”
Burke said only four of the 20 players on the Mobsters’ roster are upperclassmen. O’Neill will be looking to freshman quarterback Andrew Turzai and freshman running back Thomas Wine to lead the offense through Keenan’s defensive wall.
The Keenan defense has only allow 14 points this season, all of them coming against No. 1 Stanford in the first game of the season. Neuson said the Knights will look to learn from their week one mistakes.
“We’re happy to have gotten a high seed even though we had a misstep early on in the season with our loss to Stanford,” Neuson said. “Our defense let up no points to the other two teams we had, and, based on the way they seed teams, that proved crucial to us getting a favorable spot in the playoff bracket.”
Though O’Neill went winless in the regular season, two of its three losses were within a possession. Burke said they learned a lot from the close losses.
“In our 13-12 loss against Keough, it came down to a missed field goal with seconds to go on the clock,” Burke said. “Against Alumni, it was just a one-score game until they had a long touchdown in the fourth quarter.”
Though Keenan has not scouted its opponent, Neuson recognized that this is not expected to be an easy game and the Knights will have to work to continue to the second round of playoffs.
As far as recent history goes, Keenan has the edge. The Knights made it to the semi-finals last year and the championship two years ago. Neuson said that a championship has been the goal of Keenan since the season began.
On the other side of the spectrum, O’Neill is coming off from a couple tough seasons. Burke said they are trying to bounce back by making a run in this year’s playoffs.
“The attitude of interhall football has completely changed,” Burke said. “We’re really trying to have this be a focus of our dorm and establish a name for ourselves. We really believe we can win this game. We have nothing to lose.”
O’Neill takes on Keenan on Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Ricci Family Fields.
Siegfried v. Sorin
By Jack Zinsky
The No. 3-seed Siegfried Ramblers (3-0) and the No. 14-seeded Sorin Otters (0-3) meet Sunday in the opening round of the interhall playoffs. In their previous clash, Siegfried narrowly edged Sorin 15-12 thanks to a furious second-half comeback.
Siegfried boasts an undefeated record thanks to a stout defense and balanced offensive attack. A powerhouse team, the Ramblers are looking to make another deep playoff run. Senior captain Mark Cerutti emphasized a renewed sense of focus in his team’s preparation.
“We are stressing intensity and energy,” Cerutti said. “We have to play with the right attitude and not over or underestimate our opponents.”
A key to Siegfried’s success has been intelligent football up and down the roster. Cerutti said he was impressed with the Ramblers’ knowledge of the playbook and consistent situational awareness.
“Overall, having a set game plan with everyone knowing their assignments from starters to subs has been the key,” Cerutti said. “We’ve been able to play a lot of guys because everyone knows what to do when they are called on.”
Challenging Siegfried’s unblemished record is Sorin, a team which so far has been unable to win a game. The Otters nearly pulled off the upset against Siegfried though, and the squad aim to get over the hump this time. Sophomore captain Eric Requet said that Sorin must not let up if they can get an early lead.
“We need to come out hot like we did last game and then stay focused and continue to put pressure on them,” Requet said. “They are a good team but we proved last game that if we play a clean game we will beat them.”
Knocking off a team as good as Siegfried will take an extraordinary effort. Sorin knows this, and Requet said that his team has a plan to lean on the run to control the game.
“In order to get our offense going this week, we need to dominate the run game and then connect on some big pass plays,” Requet said. “It worked last game, so we will keep a similar game plan this week.”
Ramblers vs. Otters will kickoff at 3:30 pm at Ricci Family Fields.
Dillon v. Zahm
By Hannah Wozniak
After posting an undefeated regular season record, second-seeded Dillion (3-0) is ready for its upcoming game against No. 15-seed Zahm (0-3) on Sunday.
Dillon junior captain David Chao said the Big Red has been preparing psychologically for the upcoming playoffs.
“We’ve been doing a lot of chalk talk and mental preparation for the game and doing a few walk throughs, but it’s mostly mental stuff,” Chao said. “Most of our errors from the previous games have been mental ones, so we’ve been trying to iron those out as best we can.”
Chao said the Big Red is excited to play another game and is looking forward to the start of playoffs and showing off their both their defensive and offensive prowess.
“[The team loves] to run the ball between the tackles, especially behind seniors Jack Mitchell and Dylan Volanth on the left side,” Chao said. “They’re unstoppable.”
“[We aim] to put a ton of pressure at the line of scrimmage with [their] defensive line and have the rest of the defense follow right behind those guys,” Chao said. “That’s been really really effective for [them] through to this point in time.”
The team has been prepping for the game off the field as well. Chao said that the team has done some scouting, but did not need to make any radical adjustments to their usual game plan.
“[Our] guys are posed to absolutely control the pace of the game on Sunday,” Chao said.
Dillon takes on Zahm at 2:15 p.m. on Sunday at Ricci Family Fields.