Out for Revenge

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By: Andrew Browning <[email protected]>

The Greyhounds’ 35-14 loss in the State Finals to end the 2006 season may provide the inspiration they need to topple the Warriors this Friday on Homecoming.

“Remembering last year, everyone wants it really bad,” safety and junior Joe Rippe said. “It’s definitely going to be motivation.”

There is a lot on the table for the Greyhounds on Friday night. Both teams have been ranked among the top 10 teams in the state throughout the season, and each would gain valuable ground in the race to win the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference with a win. The Greyhounds will face added pressure to pick up a win from fans flooding the stadium for Homecoming. The fact that this school has a shot to avenge last season’s championship loss makes a win on Friday that much more enticing.

“A win would be great,” linebacker and senior Connor O’Banion said. “We’d get our revenge, finally. We haven’t beaten them since probably my freshman year, so it would be a huge win.”

Rippe and O’Banion said that because so much is on the line, the intensity level on the field will be as high as ever.

“It’ll be most intense,” Rippe said. “Everyone will be focused in.”

“(The intensity) will probably rival that of the State Championship game or the game against Cathedral,” O’Banion said.

Although the fact that the rematch is on Homecoming will bring added intensity and pressure, Rippe and O’Banion both said they were glad the rematch was scheduled that way. O’Banion specifically noted the home-field atmosphere as a greater advantage than normal because of the extra fans that will be in attendance for the long-awaited Homecoming game.

“(Having the rematch on Homecoming will) make the game bigger and hopefully give us an edge,” O’Banion said. “We’ll be more pumped… it’s home field, and we’re expecting a lot of fans.”

Every year during the week before the Homecoming game, school pride is on high and everyone is anxious for a win on Friday night. With a game of this magnitude, the week-long buildup may border madness. However, Rippe and Head Coach Mo Moriarity both stressed the need for the Greyhounds to stay focused and prepare for the game like they do each week.

“It’s the same as every week in practice,” Rippe said. “It’s all about the team, and you can’t worry about the outside stuff.”

“We practice the same the first week of the season up to the last week,” Moriarity said. “Our job is to go win a football game.”

O’Banion said that during Homecoming week, it can be easy to get caught up in the craziness of the week and forget about Friday night if the game is against a lackluster opponent. This year, though, he said he doesn’t think that will be an issue.

“If (losing focus) were ever to happen, it would be on Homecoming week,” O’Banion said. “But it won’t happen this year because Warren is such a good team.”

Although they did lose their first two games of the season, the Warriors are still one of the top teams in the state and will certainly be some of the Greyhounds’ top competition in a quest for a State Championship in November.

“Warren is still a really good football team,” Moriarity said. “They’re four-time defending state champs and still the team you have to beat.”

What will help the Greyhounds prepare for their high-caliber opponent is the experience many of the players have from the State Finals last season.

“(The experience) is really important because we know what we have to expect and what we have to do to beat this team,” Rippe said.

O’Banion said that dealing with all the buildup before last season’s State Finals will help them cope with the hype and Homecoming hysteria before the game this Friday.

“I think (the experience) will help us focus and not get caught up in everything else,” O’Banion said. “So we can just focus on what we have to do in the game.”

Moriarity said that because of the players’ experience not only from the State Finals, but also from intense home games against Cathedral and Center Grove, he is not worried about the them getting rattled.

“Here we play in a big game pretty often,” Moriarity said. “It’s not something new for our kids. They’re used to it now, so (the hype and build-up) isn’t going to have that big of an effect on us.”

Moriarity said that he encourages this school’s students to get involved with Homecoming, but wants his team to approach the game like any other week.

“Everyone always wants to win on Homecoming. It’s a great way for all students to get involved, and here it’s like nowhere else,” Moriarity said. “But for us, it’s no different than any other Friday night.”