Ramblers threaten Otters' upset bid
By KEVIN BERCHOU
The road to Notre Dame stadium and interhall football's championship contest continues this weekend as the second seed Siegfried Ramblers take on the sixth-seed Sorin Otters in semifinal playoff action.
Siegfried enjoyed the regular season edge, finishing first in the highly competitive Gold League, while the Otters still managed a strong third place finish, coming in just behind fourth seed Knott.
The Otters come into the game on an emotional high, having handed the Keenan Knights their first defeat in some three seasons last Sunday by a score of 10-7. In what was easily the most thrilling interhall game played thus far, the Otters came from behind in the last minute of play, as quarterback Luke Beuerlein scored on a keeper, to oust the two-time defending champion Knights.
As always, the Otters will rely on what is likely the league's most potent passing attack to put points on the board. Beuerlein looked terrific in recent action, possessing not only a strong arm but an uncanny elusiveness as well.
In the Doug Flutie mold, Beuerlein can kill a defense while throwing from a set position in the confines of the pocket, and by making strong, accurate throws on the run.
The Knights were able to consistently force Beuerlein to scramble, yet he was still able to make some of the game's most important throws while being flushed from the pocket.
Beuerlein's receiving corps mirrored his own stellar play as of late. Led by freshmen star Greg Carney, the Otter wideouts have given their quarterback plenty of good targets.
Carney is a threat in the deep passing game, with the combination of speed and hands necessary to play the position and tremendous leaping ability.
Carney can be counted on to come down with the ball in a crowd and is usually the target who Beuerlein calls on with the game on the line.
The Otters may be forced to look to their air attack even more than usual this week as team captain and tailback Fred Faber may be out with an injury. In his absence, the tandem of Mike Crowe and Larry Burchett will handle the rushing chores.
"We can't forget what got us here," said Faber. "We know that we're a passing team, so that means Luke, Greg, and Antoine [Tobias, the Otter's other strong pass catcher] will be seeing a lot of action."
The Siegfried defense faces perhaps its toughest test of the season, but a strong unit led by linebackers Eddie Vulin and Rob Miyakawa looks to up to the task.
"Our linebackers have been the strength of our defense," said Ramblers coach Jamie Bordas. "It's going to be a tough game, since not a lot of teams throw the ball, it's a different kind of challenge, but I think our defensive backs are good enough to contain them."
Siegfried's defensive backs will have to do just that if the Ramblers are to play another game. Led by junior free safety Pete Aguiar, the Siegfried secondary will look to put the skids on Sorin's high-octane attack.
"Our secondary is very good," said Bordas. "Our primary goal is to not let them hurt us with the big pass play."
The Ramblers also pose a strong threat offensively with their strength, like their opponents, lying under center.
Siegfried quarterback Rob Plumbly looked very good lately, leading his team to a 10-0 win over Keough last Sunday. Siegfried does not focus on the passing game, and it will instead rely on a strong rushing attack led by tailback Travis Smith.
Plumbly is a valuable commodity, nonetheless. Plumbly, when called upon to throw, is extremely accurate. More importantly, however, is his composure on the field.
Plumbly drew high praise from Siegfried coach Bordas after audibling to a better play several times against Keough.
"He's been in control," said Bordas of his quarterback.
The Ramblers' offensive philosophy is entirely the opposite of its opponent. While the Otters like to put the ball in the air, Siegfried will often keep it on the ground.
"I've always felt that in order to win, you need to have a strong running game," noted Bordas. "Travis Smith has been running the ball very well for us."
The Sorin defense will be guarding against any surprises the Ramblers might have.
"We've heard that they run a lot of trick plays," said Faber of the Ramblers' attack. "We'll be looking to stay in our lanes and have each guy concentrate on doing his job."
This matchup of two offensive opposites figures to be a highly entertaining one.
The game's outcome will depend on whether or not the Rambler defense can shut down the Otter passing attack, a goal that has yet to be realized.
All Sports Stories for Friday, November 5, 1999