Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Canton Rugby Weekend Has Successful Weekend of Competition at All Levels

Canton played host to a full day of rugby over the weekend. On April 11, the rugby community came together to watch its middle school, high school and men's teams in competition. The day ended successfully, with a multitude of wins being taken home on the day.

The rugby weekend started out with a match of firsts. Nine boys from Edison Middle School played the first ever match for Panther Middle School Rugby Club at the Jackson High School practice field.  All the boys contributed to a successful day as they finished with a 2-1 record in the initial week of action in the Canton Middle School League 2015 spring season.

The Panthers sported an all black kit as they faced a combined Oakwood-Hartford Green team. The match started out with the Panthers jumping out to a 21-0 lead by halftime, with Jake Doyle, Mason Fiegly and John Haren each scoring for their side. Tyler Watson and Damian Kuemerle helped complete the conversions to contribute to their team's impressive lead. The second half was a different story, though. The Green team stormed back into the competition by scoring three tries, converting all but one. That missed conversion proved to be the undoing for the Green team. When the match wrapped up, the final score was 21-19 in favor of the Panthers.

In the second match, the Panthers took on the Red team from Dover Middle School. Once again, the Panthers jumped out to a quick lead with tries by Fiegly and Doyle and conversion catches by Tanyon Fick and Carter Varner. They let in one unconverted try and went into halftime up 14-5. The second half was more of the same, with Fiegly and Kyle Griffith running in five-pointers. Conversion kicks successfully connected with Cody Ellis and Watson. The final score of the second match was 28-12 and to mark down another Panther victory on the day.

The final match for the day was a rematch against the Green team. Unfortunately, this match didn't go the way of the Panthers. Though they fought hard, the Panthers gave up a pair of tries during the contest. The Panthers' response was a single try by Fiegly, but their efforts weren't enough to the third win on the day. The final score of the match was 12-5 in favor of the Green team.

"I am so proud of these boys today," said Panthers Head Coach Jason Doyle. "This was their first time playing rugby, and they played together and had a lot of fun. And they were successful, they made good passes, they tackled well, they learned a lot today. I am looking forward to a great first season with them."

The Canton Middle School league will hold its second week of matches this coming Friday at Dover Middle School. Kickoff is set for 6:00pm.

On Saturday, the Stark County High School Rugby team hosted Shaker Heights in a tough Division II league match that ended in a tie.

The Maddogs played very tough for 60 minutes and finished the match deadlocked at 12-12 with their competition from the north. Try scorers for the Maddogs were Doak Walker (McKinley) and Scott Jacobsen (Jackson), with Cole Bellinger (Hoover) adding the extras on one of the five-pointers.

"Today our young men battled a very big and athletic team," said Stark County's Head Coach, Dan Sturtz. "Shaker came out fast and aggressive, and ran the ball right at us. At the beginning, we had to gang tackle and over-commit guys to the break down and we got bunched up. But we settled down and started gaining our own possession of the ball and we became the aggressors. We battled til the final whistle. A win would have been nice for our record, but we will take this match and learn from it and keep working towards our goal of reaching the playoffs."

Stark County will duke it out with Copley next. The match will take place at Weis Park on Sunday at 1:00pm.

The Canton men's team capped off the day of rugby when they hosted Greensburg this past Saturday in their final match before hosting their first Midwest Division IV playoff on April 25. The Maddogs came out victorious, with a final score of 29-7. Scoring for Canton were Ian Kell, Chris Fili, Tim Donnelly, Kris Carroll and Gabe Mullane. Mullane also successfully let fly a pair of conversion kicks as well as a single penalty kick.

"This was a hard-fought match, although the score says differently," said Canton Co-Captain Kris Carroll. "We came together defensively, and we worked together on our game plan that we will take into the playoffs in two weeks."

"The guys worked together very well today to get another win," said Head Coach Dan Sturtz. "This is momentum we need to take into the playoff game two Saturdays from now. There were many ruggers that stepped up today and made some good plays throughout the match. We also had some mental mistakes, with penalties and turnovers, but we will work on them in practice to get them ironed out. We can now solely focus on the playoffs and our chance at a Midwest DIV Championship."

Canton will host the first round playoff match on Saturday April 25th, with kickoff set for 1:00pm. Past and present club members are encouraged to come support the team in their quest for Division IV supremacy.

For those interested in getting involved more with Canton Rugby at any level should log on to the Canton rugby Web site or send a message to playrugby@cantonrugby.com or Jason Doyle.

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