Dillon hopes to maintain undefeated record
Ellie Olmanson | Friday, November 17, 2017
No. 2 Dillon (3-0) will fight to maintain its perfect season as No. 9 Duncan aims to force the Big Red their first loss.
“We are all really excited for this game,” junior captain David Chao said. “Winning would make the trip so much more sweet if we finish undefeated in the stadium.”
Through the regular season and postseason, Dillon (3-0) only allowed 13 points in its six games, though two came from forfeits.
“Two of our games this season were forfeited, but we’d rather be going into this game undefeated than having a loss,” Chao said. “It would be a chip on our shoulder.”
Chao attributed much of the Big Red success of this season to the culmination of previous seasons and experience players have gained. A key person in this equation is senior Jack Walsh. Walsh played until this year, but he now serves as the coach.
“This is the first year I’m not playing, and I really think this has been a healthy change,” Walsh said. “It’s nice having a coach on the sidelines from an organization standpoint.”
Players, captains and coaches of the Big Red agree that the skill level of the team is, and has been, at championship caliber, but in recent years the team has not been able to capitalize on opportunities.
“The past couple years we’ve had some good success,” Walsh said. “My junior and sophomore year we had a lot of talent but was never really able to put it all together.”
“Last year we lost to Stanford in the first round, and they went on to win,” Chao said. “The year before that, I believe we lost by one to Keenan in the semifinals off a missed field goal.”
Dillon has experience in the playoffs, which is part of the reason the squad has been successful in the 2017 trek to Notre Dame Stadium, Chao said.
“[The success this season] has really been a culmination of three years,” Chao said.
Walsh agreed with the importance of having core players remaining consistent over the past couple years.
“It’s a good mix of juniors and seniors,” Walsh said. “Overall, through the experience of the older guys — not exactly the physical experience, but the mental knowledge of knowing what works or doesn’t work with interhall — I feel really gives us an edge.”
Walsh touched on the younger additions to the team and how their contributions have added to the season.
“In terms of freshmen and sophomores, we’ve got some new talent this year which has helped a bunch,” Walsh said. “Particularly, this is in our running back.”
When the team was asked who would be an essential player to the win on Sunday, in unison, senior Peter “Bowling Ball” McKeon was named.
Otherwise, key bigs such as junior quarterback Michael Cahill and senior lineman Jack Mitchell.
The Big Red have especially focused on the run this year, as McKeon and freshman Curt Gouldin have found success with the offensive line to advance the ball.
“Our line is probably one of the biggest in the whole league, except maybe for Duncan,” Walsh said. “This is the first time we’ll really match up with someone of our size. It will really be a physical matchup.”
This type of “physical matchup” has been noted in Dillon’s previous games. All of the Big Red’s have been within two possessions or less. These kinds of wins especially demonstrate their patience with offense and trust with defense.
After the quarterfinal 14-7 win over Dunne, Chao said that he and the team recognized the importance of being able to have diversity in their set of plays, and mentioned including more of the throwing game, while still sticking with the “hardnose and run it at them” game plan.
Duncan (2-1) only lost to Morrissey during the regular season. Duncan was also able to knock off Stanford, the only other undefeated team of the regular season, during the second round of playoffs.
This matchup is bound to be a low-scoring battle. Both defenses have been attributed with stellar work during this season, though Dillon has let up significantly fewer points than Duncan.
On the reverse side, Duncan has also been able to convert more on offense, fielding the lead in offensive scores on the season against Dillon.
“This game has two teams with good quarterbacks and good running backs,” Walsh said. “I think whoever scores first may have a good chance to win.”