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Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024
The Observer

Playoffs begin with quarterfinal matchups

No. 2 Keenan v. No. 7 Siegfried

By Meagan Bens

As every game brings them closer to the stadium, No. 2 Keenan and No. 7 Siegfried will battle Sunday to advance to the semifinals.

Even though the Knights (3-0) are undefeated so far and have not given up any points, Ramblers senior captain Dan Verzuh said his team can handle the challenge.

“Keenan has not let in a point this season, but they don't tend to win their games in blowouts, which means if we can keep the game to a one-possession game and keep it close, then we can try to get the big plays to work out in our favor,” Verzuh said. “No defense is so good that they won’t let a throw over the top or a broken out run, so we are going to try and focus on our big plays this game and shorten up our defense, because one thing Stanford showed last week is that we were a little weak against sustained drives.”

Being the second seed playing the seventh seed in the Ramblers (2-1), Knights senior captain Mikey Koller said any team making it to the playoffs is a threat to win it all.

“In my opinion, seeding in interhall doesn't say much,” Koller said. “I believe any team can win, and going into this game, we just have to do our best. Two years ago, Siegfried lost to us in the semifinals, and they are a really athletic dorm overall, so we have to be prepared. I personally think they are one of the better teams out there. When I saw we were playing them, I immediately thought that this game is going to exciting.”

Going into the playoffs against the Knights, Verzuh agreed the championship is within any team’s reach and said Siegfried have to be prepared for anything Keenan throws at them.

“From what I hear, they are mostly a passing team, but we have to be prepared for whatever they do,” Verzuh said. “The thing about the playoffs is that once the regular season is over, it’s kind of a blank slate. It doesn't matter what happened in the regular season, the point is that you got here and you just got to win every game going forward. I know we are going to make a lot of changes on offense and defense going forward, and we have to expect Keenan to do the same. I believe our guys have a lot of toughness, grit and heart, so I think they can handle this kind of pressure.”

Keenan will face Siegfried on Sunday at 1 p.m. at LaBar Practice Complex.

No. 3 Stanford v. No. 6 Dillon

By Darcy Dehais

No. 3 Stanford and No. 6 Dillon will face off Sunday in the first game of the interhall playoffs.

The Big Red (2-1) enter the playoffs coming off a loss to Alumni in the last week of the regular season. Following several turnovers in the loss, Dillon worked on avoiding interceptions and is ready to move forward, junior captain John Walsh said.

“We have obviously addressed the turnover bug,” Walsh said. “Our quarterback knows he can’t make some of the throws he was making last week. We’re trying to simplify the offense for him so we can try to limit the turnovers. At the end of the day, it just comes down to making good decisions and everyone doing their job so our quarterback has a chance to make his throws without having pressure on him.”

Stanford senior captain Kevin Kohler said the Griffins (3-1) will also focus on the passing game and keep utilizing their most successful receiver.

“We’ve done a very good job of passing the ball this year,” Kohler said. “Our quarterback, [sophomore] Chase Jennings, has had a great year, and his favorite target is [junior] Peter Ryan. We’re going to continue to give him the ball.”

Although the playoffs bring added pressure for many teams, Kohler said the Griffins are maintaining a similar strategy and preparation techniques.

“We’re just treating it like any other game,” Kohler said. “We’ll try to install some new things on offense and show them some things they haven’t seen thus far. If we just keep the status quo, we’ll be alright.”

As Dillon looks to redeem itself after last week’s loss, Walsh said the Big Red are more prepared and ready to play their best game this week against Stanford.

“This past weekend I don’t think we were really prepared to play,” Walsh said. “We already knew we were going to be in the playoffs, and we just kind of came out flat. We definitely didn’t put our best performance forward, but we learned from last week. It’s probably good to get a loss under our belts before the playoffs anyways. We’ll work out what we did wrong, and we’ll be ready to go this Sunday.”

Stanford and Dillon kick off at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at LaBar Practice Complex.

No. 1 St. Edward’s v. No. 8 Carroll

By Patrick Skrine

Top-seeded St. Edward’s will face off against eighth-seeded Carroll on Sunday in the quarterfinals of the interhall playoffs.

The Gentlemen (3-0) is looking to defeat Carroll for the second time this season while the Vermin (2-1-1) seeks revenge and looks to eliminate the top seed from the postseason.

St. Edward’s senior captain Phineas Andrews said he is confident his team can knock off Carroll once again after defeating them Oct. 2, 17-3.

“We’ve done a great job on defense, and our execution on offense has been improving,” Andrews said. “We’re expecting and preparing for Carroll’s strong passing game and for, most likely, their four-man front on defense.”

Vermin senior captain Anthony Vallera said his squad is familiar with St. Edward’s and is excited about the opportunity to play them in the postseason.

“St. Ed’s is a tough team, they beat us pretty handily last time, but this time we have half the starters back that we didn’t have for that game,” Vallera said. “We’ve played each other before, so we know what to expect, but I think we are at a slight advantage now that we’re at full strength.”

Vallera also said he knows what it will take on both sides of the ball to find a spot in the semifinals.

“I think our defense has been our strength this year besides the game against St. Ed’s,” Vallera said. “Offensively, we have the ability to score, we just have to be consistent and have a better game plan.”

The Gentlemen and the Vermin will kick off at 1 p.m. Sunday at LaBar Practice Complex.

No. 4 Alumni v. No. 5 Duncan

By Mia Berry

Heading into Sunday’s matchup between the two teams, fourth-seeded Alumni and fifth-seeded Duncan have more in common than their regular season records, as the contest also marks the end of a long playoff drought for both teams. For the Highlanders (2-1), this is the first playoff game in the dorm’s short history. For the Dawgs (2-1), Sunday marks the first time they have made to the playoffs in three years.

Headed into the game, Dawgs senior captain Nicholas Lund said he is excited his team made playoffs, as they have not done so since his freshman year.

“I think my team has a lot of potential,” Lund said. “We have played at our worst when we weren’t mentally prepared, but I still believe we show a lot of promise, and we’re looking to advance further in playoffs.”

Without any memorable prior matchups with Duncan, Alumni is going into matchup with very little scouting done, Lund said. Because of this, the Dawgs should focus on themselves and playing to the best of their abilities, he added.

“Game plan is to get hype and play the game we have been playing all season,” Lund said. “We will come at them hard [on] offense, and play smart but reckless on defense”

Highlanders junior captain Thomas Staffieri also said he is proud Duncan made the playoffs this season and is looking to do more.

“We were very pleased with making the playoffs, but are not satisfied with just yet,” Staffieri said. “We know how good we can be, and we are looking forward to continuing our playoff run. Most of our guys have their eyes set on playing in the stadium in the finals, so hopefully we will be able to accomplish just that.”

Similar to Alumni, Duncan also has not done any scouting. The Highlanders are also internally focused with their game plan heading into Sunday, Staffieri said.

“The goal is to play hard, play fast and leave it all on the field,” Staffieri said.

Alumni and Duncan will look to continue their playoff run Sunday when they face off at 2:30 p.m. at LaBar Practice Complex.

No. 4 Cavanaugh v. No. 5 Breen-Phillips

By Kyle Barry

No. 4 Cavanaugh and No. 5 Breen-Phillips will battle on the gridiron for a spot in the semifinals Sunday.

Cavanaugh senior captain Alyssa Anton said she has high expectations for the Chaos (4-2) going into the game.

“We are going out there with the mindset to win,” Anton said. “We are so excited to get to keep playing together for hopefully a couple more weeks.”

Anton added that defense is going to be a major key in order to have success in this game.

“Our defense has been unstoppable this year,” said Anton. “With our freshmen players taking huge roles, we’ve never looked better. Our goal is to minimize big plays and stay focused the entire game.”

On the offensive side of the ball, Anton said she believes the Chaos need to have consistency when it comes to making big plays and moving the ball down the field.

For the Babes (4-2), the team is excited for its palyoff appearance, senior captain Emily Affinito said.

“This is a big deal for us. We’ve never won more than two games in a season,” Affinito said. “So long as we come out and play hard, we’ll be able to move onto the next round.”

Although the team isn’t big in numbers, Affinito said she believes everyone knows what the Babes need to do and knows what plays to run as a result of their recent success.

Breen-Phillips’ biggest strength this season is to go out, play loose and have fun, she added.

“Other teams take games seriously, we take it seriously,” Affinito said. “But we’re also there to be social, meet other girls from other dorms, getting to know them and having fun.”

Cavanaugh and Breen-Phillips will square off at 6 p.m. Sunday at LaBar Practice Complex.

No. 1 Welsh Family v. No. 8 Flaherty

By Ryan Lokhorst

No. 1 Welsh Family will take on No. 8 Flaherty in the first round of the playoffs. The two teams met last Sunday with the Whirlwinds (5-1) coming away with a close 26-18 victory over the Bears (3-3). Flaherty senior captain Heather Lystad said she is looking forward to the rematch.

“It’s kind of a good thing we get to play them again, because we saw how they play,” Lystad said. “We’re excited for the opportunity to get them back.”

Many of the Bears seniors played on the Pangborn championship team that beat the Whirlwinds in the 2014 title game. As a result, the ultimate goal is making it to the stadium, Lystad said.

“It would be a great statement if we could get Flaherty into the stadium in its first year as a dorm” Lystad said.

But in order to reach the finals, the Bears must first make a statement with a win over the Whirlwinds. Welsh Family senior captain Ariel Navoras said she views the matchup as business as usual.

“We are doing what we normally do to prepare,” Navotas said. “We just practice what we need to work on.”

The experienced team is made up of mostly seniors that have played since freshman year, and they will rely on the defense, she added.

“Our defense has been killing it,” Navotas said. “It’s nice to know we can depend on them.”

For the seniors’ final season, Navotas made it clear there is only one thing in mind.

“I can’t imagine not being in the stadium,” Navotas said. “We all really, really want to win.”

The quarterfinal matchup will take place at 5 p.m. Sunday at LaBar Practice Complex.