Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Stark County Maddogs End 2015 in Fifth

The 2015 Spring Season of high school rugby in Ohio is coming to a close for a number of teams, and such was the case for the Stark County Maddogs, who traveled to Coventry for the final match of season earlier this week.

The Maddogs battled hard for the full 60 minutes but came up short in the end, losing to their hosts by a score of 24-45. With this loss, the Maddogs' final record sits at 2-4-1.

“These young men completed another successful year competing in the Northeast Ohio Rugby League," said Head Coach Dan Sturtz. "All the coaches are very proud of the effort and time every player put in this season during training and all the matches."

Courtlin Nix (McKinley), Josh Archinal (Dover) and Ty Walters (Jackson) scored tries for the Maddogs in their final matches against Coventry. Cole Bellinger (Hoover) went 50 per cent on his conversion kicks, hitting two of his four attempts at the posts.

While the overall record and a fifth place finish may not look like much, the Maddogs' performance isn't anything to sneeze at. The two wins the Maddogs had against Amherst and Lakewood were all bonus-point victories. They out up over 40 on Amherst on their way to a shutout and edged Lakewood by two points when they put up 26 points on them. What speaks louder is one of their earlier losses and their drawn match, though. At the beginning of the season they held Mentor to a single try, with a conversion being the only saving grace for their opponents. The Maddogs also drew level with Shaker in the third week of competition. What is significant about these results is that Shaker and Mentor are in second and third place, respectively, and to have such narrow results against clubs of that quality underscores the kind of quality rugby the Maddogs are capable of. For extra consideration, Shaker lost to Coventry by five points and Mentor handed them their only loss so far.

Still, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades; and close matches and ties don't mean much when they outnumber your wins on the score sheet. The Maddogs' coaching staff isn't disappointed with how their player performed this season, even though their finish isn't exactly where they had hoped it would be at the season's start.
Division III HS Standings for 2015 (via Rugby Ohio Web site)

"Although we had expectations this season to reach the playoffs, there is no reason to hang our heads today or for the season," Sturtz said. "We came out week-to-week and kept playing rugby, as well as improving our team and individual skills. Again, I am very proud of all the players and the parents that have supported the Maddogs all year. Special thanks to Cole Bellinger and Winter Andrews for captaining the squad this year. You both served your teammates well. "

As is always the case with high school rugby, a group of players will be leaving the Maddogs this yar due to graduation and and going to college. Sturtz said coaching these boys throughout their years of competition and development had been a pleasure. The 2015 season is over and the seniors are set to leave, but Sturtz is already looking towards the future and is ready to take on more competition with his remaining players.

"To all the underclassmen, we are not done," he said. "It will take all of you to carry on the tradition of the Stark County High School Rugby team."

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