Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Maddogs Make History, Final Four

Over the weekend the Canton Maddog Rugby team punched themselves tickets to the Midwest Division IV playoffs with a victory over the Battle Creek Griffons. The Maddogs will compete in their divisional Final Four in Chicago on May 16.

The weekend's match against the visiting Griffons was a very physical one, and the intensity only picked up as play progressed. Both teams hammered the other's defenses in the hopes of drawing first blood, but it was the visitors who got on the scoreboard first.

Battle Creek broke through Canton's defensive line within the opening ten minutes of the match to take a 5-0 lead after the conversion went astray. The home team responded by monopolizing ball possession and applying pressure to the Griffons. The pressure reaped rewards for the Maddogs, though, as they were able to put a penalty kick over the crossbar before halftime. The successful kick by Gabe Mullane put the score at 5-3 just before the break.

"We were trailing at halftime, but I told the guys to keep playing together and applying pressure," said Maddogs Head Coach Dan Sturtz. "But the second half, the Maddogs came out and executed our game plan, maintained possession of the ball, and capitalized when we were in scoring range."

After the midway break, Canton picked up where they left off. Canton took up possession of the ball and were awarded two penalty kick attempts for their hard work. Unfortunately, both of Mullane's attempts flew astray, leaving the Maddogs still trailing the Griffons going into the waning minutes of the match.

Canton finally got more points on the board when Chris Wright was able to cross the try line for his team's first five-pointer of the match. The kicking still wasn't there for the Maddogs, as the conversion missed its mark. The fact remained that Canton was now ahead, 8-5. Canton charged for the Griffons' try line again and got back into scoring position in short order. The Maddogs capitalized on their newly-acquired field position. Eugene Naude touched down and added another five points to his team's tally. The attempt from the tee failed again, leaving the score 13-5 in Canton's favor.

Canton didn't play a perfect match, though. Battle Creek capitalized on a number of handling errors from Canton and found themselves with possession deep in their opponent's territory. Before long they were able to touch down for their second try of the day. It was a bad day for conversions on Saturday all around, because the Griffons' conversion attempt failed as well.The score for the moment was 13-10. Canton played some stout defense and held the integrity of their line until the final whistle of the match. When everything was said and done, Canton had secured the three-point victory and realized their goal of making the playoff trip to Chicago.
Canton Maddogs logo

"We made tackles all across the pitch, even a few try-saving ones," said Maddogs Co-Captain Chad Menegay. "We fought through adversity today and look forward to battling it out in Chicago for a Midwest Division IV title."

This victory made history for the Maddogs, with their first ever Final Four appearance in the club's 39 years of existence. Canton will host Detroit this Saturday at 1:00pm at Weis Park for seeding purposes. They'll have a week off before traveling to Chicago for the Final Four.

"A determined team playing with heart can do incredible things," said Canton's Co-Captain Kris Carroll. "My hat is off to all of my teammates that have been working hard for the last year together to help propel us to this victory today."

"This is the first time this club has made it this far into the playoffs," Sturtz said. "I am proud of the team, but looking forward to going even further on this post season run."

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