The games started out with a road trip for the varsity side to Germantown, Tenn., to play the Germantown Rugby Club. The Jr. Bills dominated the first half, going up 22-5 at the break, but only narrowly avoided a comeback, scoring only one try in the second half, and winning 29-24.
Junior Owen Tucker attributed some of the team’s success to its new pre-game routine.
“We really put an emphasis on creating a better warm-up environment,” said Tucker. “We blasted the Led Zeppelin, floated through our drills, and got ready to play some good footy.”
The Jr. Bills grinded through the beginning of the match, keeping cool and running their offense until Germantown recovered the ball. SLUH responded by applying pressure to the Germantown offense. Senior wing Nick Shelton saw a long pass and intercepted the ball to propel up the field and score the first try of the match, setting the score at 5-0.
After a quick tap penalty by Tucker was passed to senior Trey Saleeby, senior Darion Mullins picked up the ball from the ruck and dove into the tryzone to score. A successful Tucker conversion kick set the score at 12-0.
“We had really good runs, especially from our wings,” said Saleeby. “The forwards did a great job of pushing the ball forward and finding holes in the defense so that the ball could be passed wide to our wings to score.”
When Germantown got possession of the ball, SLUH’s defense drove them all the way back to their try zone so Germantown kicked the ball down field. Junior Luke Schuermann recovered the ball and ran it straight up the field, increasing the lead to 17-0.
SLUH fought a defensive battle until Germantown scraped through with a try. SLUH kicked off and only let Germantown have the ball for one run before stealing it back. Junior Andy Finlay ran up field to get right in front of the tryzone, and Tucker grabbed the ball from the ruck and dove into the tryzone, setting the score at 22-5 going into the half.
“We played fast, we played quick, and we always had them on their heels,” said senior Justin “Frenchie” Lombard. “First half, we were strong and applied a lot of pressure on them so they would break.”
SLUH started the second half off slow. Germantown scored multiple tries and got the score to 22-19. Junior Luke Schuermann changed that narrow score by recovering a Germantown kick and running it half the length of the field to score. Germantown sneaked one last try before the end of the game setting the final at 29-24.
“They were a really good team and I personally love games that are close all the way to the end,” said senior AJ Storer. “They had a little bit of a different style of play—a little more hard hitting—so it was good to experience that before facing the Junior Blues.”
After some hard-fought matches in the BBQ capital of the world, varsity returned home for the second most important match of the year in a regular season against the Kansas City Junior Blues.
Both teams applied pressure on defense and ran hard on offense. The Junior Blues eventually overloaded one side of the field and scored. A few drives later, they scored again, setting the score at 12-0.
“When we played our game, when we did what we were supposed to do, we broke through their line easily and they couldn’t stop us,” said Lombard. “It was keeping the ball that was difficult. We had a lot of penalties that worked against us and our defense wasn’t spreading out.”
A post-kickoff tackle and successful conversion brought the score to 12-7.
The back and forth continued with a score by the Junior Blues, followed by Finlay scoring to make it 19-12 at half.
The second half did not start out in favor of SLUH. The Junior Blues kept beating SLUH’s defense on the wings and ran up the score to 33-12. SLUH failed to win any set pieces, which allowed the Junior Blues to score on two of their tries.
After a long offensive battle up the field, SLUH finally got the ball out wide to Finlay, who worked his magic and got the try. A conversion by Tucker set the score at 33-19.
SLUH got the tryline again and kept trying to no avail until senior Zack Bievenue picked up the ball and dove through the legs of an unsuspecting Junior Blues player. With a successful conversion, the final score was 33-26.
“As a group, we identified a couple areas where we need to commit to as a group fully,” said varsity head coach Tony Born, ’10. “The first is lightning quick ball, which describes the way we to play with the ball in hand and the second is communication and line speed in defense. Both of these require work rate and communication so that’s what we are working on this week and going into upcoming games.”
Varsity was not the only team clashing on the field down south. JV also showed out in two dominant performances against a Christian Brothers High School from Memphis, blowing them out 45-0, and crushing Liberty 39-5.
“We played very aggressive defense and did very well tackling, keeping the ball on their half for a majority of the game” said junior Tay Wiley. “We communicated very well allowing for us to impose our will onto them.”
In the upcoming week, the Jr Bills’ 1st Varsity will face off against Lindbergh High School, and their 2nd Varsity matches up against the North County Rugby Club.