Year – 2006
At times you have feelings about teams and how they will perform during a season. Though a little apprehensive to say so, many thought that the team of 2006 could be “the team”. Could they repeat the success of the team of 2004 and give us two National Championships in three years. Those who dared to think this were rewarded on 20 May with our third National Championship. Yes, you were right – this team had what it took to win a National Championship.
The pre-season began with a 28-19 win over De La Salle in Concord. At the Referees Tournament Jesuit came away with wins over Rio 24-0, Burbank 20-0 and Live Oak 19-3. This was a promising beginning to the 2006 season. What would the League season bring?
The first game did not eventuate when it was decided that Jesuit’s second team would forfeit rather than play the first team. The first real clash came when we hosted Rio Linda. Jesuit produced some great Rugby in winning 43-7. Yes, the team was looking good.
This was followed with a powerful 50-0 defeat of Mother Lode and our first away win over Davis by a score of 51-0. Scoring points did not look like a problem for this team. A trip up north saw us take on Del Oro’s Golden Eagles and come away with a 38-0 win. The Del Campo Cougar game at Del Campo ended in a 49-0 Jesuit win. The points were still coming in big quantities.
Christian Brothers was overrun 67-0 at Jesuit and that brought us to the Clash of the Titans, Jesuit v unbeaten Burbank Islanders. This would tell us exactly where we were with our drive to the National Championships. As ever the game had everything, just that Jesuit had a little more of most things that counted and charged to a big lead with some great speed ball and continuity. The final score off 32-10 left no doubt that we were on target for the Nationals.
The game against eventual National Tier 2 champions, Vacaville, was tough and the injury to hooker Spencer Puente took much of the gloss off the win. Jesuit won 19-7 in a game shortened by the injury. The final game against Rio Americano was played at Florin Park. Jesuit fielded a vastly weakened team but ran out 13-3 winners over a gallant Rio team.
The League season was over – the Sacramento Valley Championship had been secured through a 10-0 season. Though the last two games had not been as convincing as earlier games, subtle changes had been made to Jesuit’s style of play and coaches were confident they would pay dividends.
The Norcal play-offs would not be easy though it looked at one stage that we might not have a first round quarter final opponent. Silicon Valley declined the offer to play us, as did the next two seeded teams. Eventually East Palo Alto agreed to travel to Jesuit and play us. We won this game 50-0 and that took us to the Norcal semi-final and another epic clash with Lamorinda. It was probably this game more than any other that game that convinced most that this team had National Championship winning potential. In its most outstanding performance of the season, Jesuit began the game in overdrive and did not relent for the full 70 minutes. The final score line of 43-8 would have sent the message to all that Jesuit Marauders were worthy contenders.
One rung of the ladder remained to be climbed. Vacaville had to be defeated for us to grab the #2 seed in Tier 1 at the Nationals to be held at Dartmouth College. The loser would play in the Tier 2 as Norcal had been granted a seed in each tier in 2006.
Vacaville was tough but the Jesuit running game with its quick release emphasis was paying dividends. Jesuit just kept scoring tries and try though they might, Vacaville could not stop Jesuit registering a 36-15 win. The Armada was ready to sail for Dartmouth College.
We knew who our opponent would be in the first round at the Nationals – the Doylestown Dragons. In very wet conditions, Jesuit turned on the after-burners in the first half, running to a 26-0 lead after 22 minutes of Rugby. The second half was a much more dour affair and the final score line read Jesuit 31 Doylestown 7. The quarter final was behind us and our friendly arch-rival, Westerville Worms, loomed as semi final opponent.
The weather improved and we played this time on the scenic #1 Field. Again we began the game in overdrive and again scored more than a point a minute in the first half top lead 24-3 at the break. As with the quarter final, the second half was the complete opposite of the first. Neither team could register a point and the 24-3 score stayed intact.
As always happens when Jesuit makes the National play-offs, we were to clash with Highland High at some stage. This year it would be in the final. The Championship game was the torrid, no quarter asked no quarter given affair. Jesuit scored in the second minute, Highland leveled the score five minutes later. Jesuit took a 12-5 lead well into the second half, Highland scored right on half time to leave Jesuit with a 12-10 lead at the break.
Jesuit took 20 minutes of play in the second half to stretch the lead to 19-10. Jesuit had little time to be comfortable nine point lead as Highland immediately kicked a penalty to make it 19-13. The last fifteen minutes of play were as dramatic as any between these two gladiatorial teams.
Highlands pounded the Jesuit line again and again. They were met with fearless Jesuit defense. Highland was not going to cross the Marauder line under any circumstance. Jesuit repelled the Highland attacks and pushed them back into their territory where the referee’s blast of the whistle for full time announced mayhem. Let the celebrations begin.
Jesuit had beaten Highland for the National Championship on the last two occasions the two had met and Highland had not had the lead at any stage of either game. Jesuit surely had reached the pinnacle of USA High School Rugby.
Jesuit finished the season undefeated, taking the Sacramento Valley Championship, the Norcal Championship and the National Championship in the process. That was some performance from undoubtedly the best team Jesuit has ever put on the field.
On the home front, Jesuit’s second Varsity team performed superbly and gave our younger players valuable experience. The team had wins over Rio (12-8), Rio Linda (46-5), Mother Lode (28-27), Davis (23-17) and Golden Eagles (56-0). Losses were sustained against Vacaville (0-27) and Cougars (12-25). This last defeat ended any chance the second team had of making the play-offs. Congratulations to players and coaches Greg Joseph and Ryan De Mar.
In the Sacramento Valley Championship games, Jesuit’s Senior B team won a hard battle 10-5 over Golden eagles while the Frosh/Soph team went down 24-26 to a fine Cougar team in a most entertaining game.
2006 was certainly a season anybody involved with Jesuit Rugby will ever forget.
Year – 2005
2005 was a year of highs and one heartfelt low for Marauder Rugby.
Jesuit had a great Sacramento Valley League season and had four of its players chosen to represent the USA at the Under 19 World Cup in South Africa. The low undoubtedly was the loss to a very spirited and focused Elsie Allen team in the Norcal Championship game. A season that promised so much came to a grinding and somewhat unexpected halt.
As defending National Champion and with many of the 2004 squad back, it was perhaps natural that expectations were high. Everybody was after us. We answered all but one of the challenges put in front of us.
The season began with our participation in the Cooke Family inspired “Try for Others” tournament. Despite an early loss, coaches were happy with the performances. This was followed by an impressive 37-5 win over perennial enemy Lamorinda. This was a quality performance – the season should be a most interesting one.
The League season began with a resounding 53-14 win over a willing Rio team and we followed that with a non-league game win over De La Salle 13-0. De La Salle, new to the code looked like a very formidable opponent in years to come.
It was a “slug fest”, as so often happens when Jesuit beat Mother Lode 21-13 in a performance that brought more questions than answers to our potential this season. This was followed by our first defeat of the season, 24-10 at the hands of Elsie Allen. Elsie Allen was able to get us out of our rhythm, something they were able to repeat in the Norcal Championship game.
The up-and-down form of the Marauders continued with a professional 39-7 win over the Black Dogs of Vacaville then a scrappy 14-5 win over a fired-up Del Campo Cougar team.
Our now traditional game against the LA Cougars (Loyola) at Stanford followed and Jesuit emerged with a 14-12 win. Again the question of consistency was raised. A win over touring Canadian team, Erindale by 46-14 followed. This brought us to the “battle royale”, the game against The Islanders of Burbank.
Jesuit saved the best to last and produced a stunning performance to overrun Burbank to the tune of 48-0. It was some performance and gave all hope of a repeat of the National Championship of 2004.
To get us ready for the play-offs, the Marauders took off on the North-West Passage tour. Wins over Washington teams, Chuckanaut by 41-12, Kent by 7-5 and Xavier of New York by 27-12, again gave us hope. Kent and Xavier are almost perennials at the Nationals.
Back home for the Sacramento Valley playoffs, Jesuit began with a great 30-0 quarter final win over the hard lads from Davis High and followed it up with a semi-final win over Del Oro by 48-7. To the Norcal play-offs for us.
The first round clash with the islanders of Hayward was a total heart stopper. Despite having our five players away at the U19 World Cup, we believed that we had the depth to win. We had not considered enough the tenacity of Hayward who fought back from an early Jesuit try to level the scores at 5-5.
The second half was total excitement as one team then the other launched attacks. Nobody however could get the ball over the line and it was overtime. Jesuit was nervous – this could finish up a drop kick contest to decide the winner. The drop kickers were assembled and readied for entry into the game.
With overtime almost up, Jesuit launched a final fling at the Hayward line and to the joy of the very large crowd present, the Jesuit winger raced over for the try and a heart-stopping 10-5 victory.
The semi-final opponent was Silicon valley. Surely they could be as competitive as Hayward. Fortunately they were not and Jesuit advanced to the Norcal final with a 27-3 victory. But our opponent would be Elsie Allen, who had already lowered our colors.
We had played the last four games without our representatives in the USA Under 19 team, competing so successfully at the World Cup in South Africa. They returned immediately before the Norcal Championship game. They looked and were travel weary.
This was coupled with the Senior Prom that was held the night before the game. Coaches were nervous to put it mildly. This would not be easy against a very focused and fired up Elsie Allen team.
Elsie Allen took the game to Jesuit for the whole 70 minutes and one of the great games
of Norcal Rugby ensued. Jesuit led on a number of occasions, but the tough Elsie Allen team was not to be denied and it took the lead by two with ten minutes to go.
Jesuit threw everything at them. Three times Jesuit got the ball over the line but two lost balls and a knock on frustrated them. Elsie Allen was the deserved winner and a season that, at times, promised so much had ground to a halt. There would be no National Championship defense for the Marauders.
More heartening were the performances of the Frosh/Soph and Senior B teams that played splendid Rugby to annex the two titles and keep the Jesuit Rugby flag flying.
Year – 2004
All at Jesuit looked forward to a successful 2004 season but few anticipated that 2004 would bring us our much sought-after second National Championship. Following a promising 2003 season, the writing was on the wall that 2004 would be good but how good we would have to wait to find out.
Pre-season began with a promising 28-19 win over UC Davis’ C squad in Davis followed with a 24-5 win over a rugged Elsie Allen team in Santa Rosa. This win over a tough team gave early indications that the Marauders had the steel to win tough games.
The League season began with a classy 58-12 away win over the Black Dogs of Vacaville and this was followed by a second away win over Oakridge, this time by 33-0. These two wins over bigger, aggressive opponents supported the thoughts drawn after the victory over Elsie Allen.
It was the third League game however that left all with little doubt that this team had something special going for it. The opponent naturally was the Islanders of Burbank team who would answer any questions we may have had about the defensive capabilities of the Marauder men.
The 33-15 win over our “arch-enemy” was one of the most complete wins we have had over the tough Islanders. The defense withstood the test put to them in style. This defense was backed up by some of the best intelligent attacking Rugby by Jesuit backs seen in years.
Davis held the Marauders to half time but was overrun in the second half as Jesuit raced to a 57-10 victory. It was now clearly evident that thus team could score points against any defense and could score points quickly.
The day following the Davis game, Jesuit met College park for the Holy Bowl. Despite the rigors of the previous day, Jesuit again entertained the large crowd at home with a 70-0 win. Jesuit had playing depth as well.
A 39-0 win over Rio at Jesuit was followed by a 33-5 win over Del campo Cougars and they closed the season out with a commanding 39-11 win over Ponderosa.
The Marauders finished the season with a record of 295 points from the seven games (over 42 points a game) while conceding 53 (over seven points a game). The play-offs would be interesting.
Winning Norcal would be tough as the Bay area had a number of tough teams and we knew that Elsie Allen would be tough. In the quarter final Jesuit had to work hard to overcome the islander team of Diablo. Though never headed, Jesuit held on to win 23-17.
The semi-final not surprisingly brought us up against Burbank once more. The Islanders were still smarting from the League game loss and we knew the return game would not be easy. That was an understatement. In wet conditions, the Islanders controlled play for much of the game played at Sacramento State. A last minute try to Jesuit saw the Marauders grab a thrilling 15-12 win and a place in the Championship Final against Elsie Allen.
As with Burbank, Elsie Allen had done homework on Jesuit since the pre-season game and proved to be a challenge. Jesuit, at home, took an early lead and despite the desperate attempts by Elsie Allen to get back into the game, won 20-6. So it now was, Fort Worth here we come.
We knew that our first opponent would be the Westerville Worms and we knew that they would “bring the wood” with their forward oriented grinding style of play. We were not disappointed. The combination of their tough forward play and hard nosed defense kept our slick backline at bay. Jesuit had to rely on three penalties to win the game 9-0.
We had a chance to have a look at our semi-final opponent, Dallas Harlequins, and they looked impressive. We would have to control the game and eliminate mistakes to win this one. The team played to the game plan and Jesuit emerged victors 17-0. Traditional “enemy” Highland High won its semi-final but had to work to win the game. We were in with a show of winning the National Championship.
The game plan was hatched and all was set for an enthralling final. Highland had kept their star “recruit” in mothballs by not playing him in any early games and Jesuit had to guess what havoc he might create when let loose.
Urged on by the very large crowd who almost to a person supported Jesuit, Jesuit turned on a first half that won them their second National Championship. Crowding the Highland with a rush defense, Jesuit stopped much of Highland’s forward progress and created uncertainty. Center Eric Forner scooped in a loose pass given under pressure and raced some 50 yards to score the try. When stand off Chris Sardon converted, Jesuit had the crowd in raptures but better was to come shortly after.
Pressure among the Highland centers saw the ball dropped and winger Adam Mariani showed his considerable soccer skills to toe the ball 40 yards to win a desperate race to the ball in the in-goal area. With Chris Sardon’s conversion, the scoreboard illuminated a 14-0 Jesuit lead at half time.
Highland roared back, as expected, in the second half and this led to a nerve wracking second half. It took them over 20 minutes to score their first try which, when converted, left the score line at 14-7.
Highland, much bigger and stronger than the Marauders, launched attack after attack on the Jesuit line. Desperate defense held for another ten minutes when Highland scored its second try. Supporters held their breath as the attempted conversion that would have tied the scores swung wide of the posts. Jesuit led 14-12. The countdown was on but Highland continued to pound the Jesuit line. Smart play enabled Jesuit to move out of the danger area and all hell broke loose when the final whistle blew. The National Championship was ours.
What a season! Players and coaches deserve plaudits for creating such a successful season. Congratulations on presenting Jesuit’s Rugby program in such a great light.
On the home front, Jesuit managed to win both the Sacramento Valley Senior B and Freshmen/Sophomores Championships to put icing on a rich cake. And with over 140 players registered to play Rugby, 2004 had to be probably our best ever season.
The traveling squad to the Nationals in alphabetical order was –
Mike Bier, Billy Bittner, Andrew Booth, Joe Casanova, Tyler Collins, Julian Columbero, Pierce Cooley, Anthony Estrella, Eric Forner, Nathan Floyd, Mike Gamache, Colin Hawley, Ken Imwinkelreid, Paul Jesseman, Andrew Lewallyn, Steve Lewis, Greg Loflin, Adam Mariani, Craig McCoy, Sean McNamara, Mike Morrison, Matt Nickerson, David Reid, Zack Reed, Chris Sardon, Tyler Siegel, Justin Sweeney, Ryan Taylor, Winston Welch.
Year – 2003
The year that almost was!! A rewarding and entertaining season did not have the ending we sought when the National Championship game in Dallas was lost 8-10 against our arch rival, Highland High. It was rated at the presentation as one of the best games of high school Rugby ever seen but it was a game we could have so easily won.
Pre-season form again indicated that 2003 would be a rewarding year for the Marauders. Wins over Lamorinda 38-15, over Elsie Allen 43-3 and over Kansas City Blues 27-5 showed that the team had the potential to score points and score them quickly.
Jesuit handed the Holy Bowl over to College Park after losing 44-27 in San Jose. The Varsity team had played Kansas City the day before and had to play Lamorinda two days later so was unable to field its top squad.
The Marauders began the season with a commanding 31-0 win over Oakridge and followed that with a 58-10 victory over Ponderosa. A win followed over the Black Dogs of Vacaville by 25-12 before Jesuit came upon its only hiccup of the League season. A very focused and determined Burbank Islander team at home outstayed the Marauders to register a deserved 23-20 win. The Carmichael Cup was retained by the Marauders following their 53-12 romp over Del Campo before Davis rang alarm bells as Jesuit scraped home 13-7 at Davis. Work needed to be done before the play-offs.
The North West Passage Easter tour saw us down Budd Bay 48-0, then lose a great game 19-22 to top Canadian team, Shawnigan Lake, before closing with a 32-12 win over Kent, a team that features regularly at Nationals.
In the Norcal Championship game we, not surprisingly, played the Burbank Islanders in what turned out to be a pulsating game at Sacramento State. It was anybody’s game, with Burbank leading for much of the game before a late try gave Jesuit a 17-12 victory. So it was Dallas for the Nationals.
Our quarter final game pitted us against Wilmington and the Marauder backs proved to be a handful as Jesuit won 20-3. The semi-final was against the big, tough Penn (Indiana) team. Jesuit took a long time to assert authority and trailed Penn 0-5 at one stage. Eventually the Jesuit running game appeared and the tries came. The final score line of 22-5 took us to the final and Highland High once more.
It could be described as a physical game but it was probably closer to brutal as both teams threw heart and soul into the game. Jesuit led early and it took Highland into the second half before they regained the lead. Highland led 10-3 when Jesuit winger, Derek Siegel, scored a classic try. The conversion however was wide as was a kickable penalty with two minutes to play. So near yet so far! The memory of losing previously by four points to Highland was now compounded by losing by only two here.
In the Sacramento Valley Tournaments, Jesuit won the Frosh/Soph Championship with a stunning 47-0 crushing of Del Campo. This game clearly indicated the depth of the Jesuit Rugby pool. Good years should be ahead. Try though they might, the Senior B team could not overcome the bigger, more powerful Oakridge Boys who recorded a deserved 19-10 win over the Marauders.
With playing numbers well over the 100 mark, 2003 was a most successful year for the Marauders.
National Championship squad (alphabetical order)
Kevin Adams, Mike Bier, Billy Bittner, Robbie Chappell, Adam Collins, Tyler Collins, Jessee Dundon, Anthony Estrella, John Faletoese, Eric Forner, Brian French, Ryan Fry, Dominic Green, Dave Griga, Paul Jesseman, Alex Kallergis, Steve Lewis, Greg Loflin, Ryan Malhoski, Adam Mariani, Craig McCoy, Sean McNamara, John Parshall, Zach Powell, Pat Ramos, Chris Sardon, Derek Siegel, Louis Stanfill, Ryan Taylor, Delorean Walton, Joe Welch, Anthony Vitto.
Year – 2002
Expectations were high that 2002 would be a big year for the Jesuit Marauders and those expectations were for the main part realized. We would make it to the Nationals again but that much-sought after National Championship would once again elude us.
The pre-season was a mixed bag with a good win over TAM Union of Santa Rosa and a narrow loss to Lamorinda. But there was a good feel about the performances and all eagerly awaited the beginning of the League season.
Jesuit began with a sparkling 48-7 win over the tough Mother Lode team and followed that victory up with a 40-5 defeat of another big team, the Black Dogs of Vacaville. But a possible stumbling block faced Jesuit in round three in the form of the Islanders of Burbank.
And stumbling block it proved to be. Burbank played inspired Rugby to race to a 15 point lead in the first half. Jesuit showed commendable fight to come back at Burbank but the deficit was too much and Burbank deservedly won 33-28. There would be no Sacramento Valley Championship for Jesuit in 2002 as Burbank won all other games.
Jesuit came back with a not-so-impressive 24-7 win over a courageous Davis team but finished the season with a roar as the Marauders “smoked” Del Campo 50-7 to wind up the League season. So the Easter tour to Washington and Canada became a vital part of play-off preparations.
On tour, Jesuit won its first game, a torrid 34-28 win over the tough Kent unit. Over the border to Vancouver and a slashing 52-5 defeat of Lord Byng School followed by a 26-27 loss to the Cowishan club team. On the return to Washington, Jesuit had to fight all the way to down Budd Bay 22-17. Three wins and a one point loss were considered a good return for the tour.
Firstly Jesuit had to annex the Norcal Championship and that surely would mean having to play and beat Burbank. On the way to the final, Jesuit reaped the benefits of the tour north and ran over Peninsula Green 43-3 in the quarter final. It then produced its best performance of the season with a powerhouse 41-5 demolition of Bay rival Lamorinda at St Mary’s Moraga. So it would be Burbank in the final at Jesuit.
Jesuit led 13-0 at half time and increased that lead to 20-0 midway through the second half. As ever Burbank fought back tenaciously and pulled the score back to 20-17 with just minutes remaining. When winger Pat Follett raced over for a last minute try, the Sacramento Valley Championship and a trip to Ohio for the National Championships was Jesuit’s.
The National Championships was not going to be easy. Jesuit had in its pool tough forward oriented teams, Moundsview and Kansas City Blues. Jesuit however continued its great form and did not allow a point to be scored against it as it beat Moundsview 17-0 and Kansas City Blues 22-0. To Highland High and the long awaited clash with the arch enemy. Most people realized that this semi-final really was the “final”.
Highland fielded a big fast side that took its toll of Jesuit’s defenders. Against a strong wind, Highland led 7-0 at the break. Jesuit took it back to 7-3 before Highland scored again to make the score 14-3. Though wearied at tackling some of Highland’s big men, Jesuit fought back and with time running out ran in a converted try.
With the score line now 14-10 the game really came to life. Jesuit lifted again and was camped on the Highland line when the final whistle blew. So near yet so far. Highland won the final against Westerville in a canter while Jesuit grabbed third place after winning a hard fought clash with Xavier, New York, 29-20. Third in the nation was a fitting reward for a talented group of Jesuit Rugby players.
On the home front Jesuit could not have asked for better results as the two Sacramento Valley Championships went to the Marauders. The Frosh/Soph team won a marvelous final against Del campo 26-15 while the Junior Varsity title came our way after we beat Atwater 29-25 in what was also an exciting climax to a great season.
Jesuit finished up with the Norcal Championship, the Sacramento Valley Junior Varsity and Frosh/Soph Championships as well as third ranking in the nation. That could only be considered a very good season for the 2002 Marauders.
Year – 2001
Hopes were high that 2001 would bring Jesuit considerable success while realizing that winning the Norcal Championship alone would almost be as challenging as winning the National Championship. This was amply shown in some of the pre-season games that included a 22-5 loss to the tough Elsie Allen Lobos of Santa Rosa.
The first League game against Oak Ridge was won 10-5 but the victory left some worried looks on faces of Jesuit coaches. Matters improved as Jesuit put two more impressive performances on that resulted in wins over Granite Bay by 58-0 and over Valley by 46-5. The game against Grant was a forfeit to Jesuit a scratch game was played that was won by Jesuit 20-17.
Somewhat unexpectedly Davis proved to be a stumbling block and brought Jesuit back to earth when it won a great tussle 29-28. With Burbank yet to come Jesuit’s chances of annexing the Sacramento Valley crown were not good.
As expected Burbank was ready for the Marauders and the game was a dog-fight on the narrow Burbank field. Jesuit found Burbank uncompromising early and the Islanders ran to a 15-0 lead before Jesuit finally decided to play its best Rugby. In a short time Jesuit had wrested the lead 17-15 from Burbank and the game was on in earnest. Burbank simply capitalized on some Jesuit errors and led 27-17.
Jesuit scored an unconverted try with time running out and Burbank emerged deserved victors 27-22. Matters would have to improve and that they did. Jesuit finished the League season with a win over Vacaville by 63-15.
Not well placed in the Sacramento Valley League table, Jesuit would have some challenging games in front of them. They crushed Diablo Valley 62-3 in the first game and followed that up by reversing the loss to Davis by overpowering them 42-12. This took us to the game against Lamorinda that would be played at Jesuit.
This game was a heart stopper. Though beaten 17-20 by a skilled Lamorinda team, Jesuit had chances to win the game but failed to capitalize. Lamorinda, with time running out, had no such thoughts. A long cut out pass by a Jesuit back was willingly grabbed by a grateful Lamo winger who streaked 70 yards to score the match winning try. The quest to reach the Nationals was over.
Jesuit on tour fought out a torrid 8-8 draw with Kent of Washington State and lost narrowly 5-8 to Canadian team Garibaldi. The Holy Bowl came Jesuit’s way after a 15-3 win over College Green while social games were played against Penticton of Canada, won by Jesuit 47-8, and South Placer, won by Jesuit 58-0.
On the home front, Jesuit won the Sacramento Valley Senior B Championship by downing Oak Ridge 14-8 in a tough battle while the Frosh/Soph lost in the semi final to Davis 14-21, who in turn lost to Burbank by 10-20.
2001 brought success and a big increase in playing numbers but the elusive National Championship quest is still on hold.
Year – 2000
We all felt that Jesuit had the power and ability to go a long way towards the National Championship game. This team had power, pace and skill but would that be enough to get us to the Sacramento Valley Championship and off to Provo, Utah, and the Nationals.
The League season commenced with an impressive 43-3 win over Oak Ridge and followed up with a forfeit received from Grant. A quality 38-10 win over Vacaville followed and when Davis was overpowered 47-0, the quest for the “Holy Grail” looked promising.
Valley succumbed 31-0 but that brought us up against a fired-up and talented Burbank team. Burbank did all the early running and raced to a 12-0 lead before Jesuit answered. And answer they did, piling on 17 unanswered points to none from Burbank to win another memorable “battle” with Burbank 17-12. A major bullet had been dodged – Jesuit should finish as Sacramento Valley Champions.
This was clinched when Jesuit overcame a willing Del Campo 26-5. This meant that in the toughest League in the country, Jesuit had scored 195 points at 33 a game while giving up 33 at 5 a game. Now for the nerve-wracking play-offs.
Jesuit began the campaign with a 66-0- demolition of the Black Dogs of Vacaville. And followed it with a 34-10 win over Peninsula Green from the Skyhawk Conference of the Bay area. That brought us up against Burbank.
The venue was O’Neill Park, the crowd was excellent, the weather superb and the Rugby even better. Jesuit scored early and maintained the lead for the whole of a thrilling game. With players out on their feet, the referee whistled time with Jesuit victors 25-17 – we were off to Provo, Utah, and the crack at the National Championship.
We turned on some outstanding Rugby against our first opponent, Greenwich of New York. After scoring three times in the first eight minutes, Jesuit cruised to a 50-29 victory but coaches were able to get many players on to the field. This took us up against the legendary Westerville Worms, who we knew would “bring the wood” to lay on Jesuit.
The game was closer than the 24-6 score line suggested but a win is a win in any language and Jesuit was on to the final against the arch enemy Highland High on its home turf. We had beaten Highland in the 1999 championship and revenge was on their minds.
The final, played under lights, was emotionally nerve-wracking. Under a Highland barrage, a referee barrage and a series of yellow cards against Jesuit players, we found ourselves behind 0-23 at half time. It was enough to break the hearts of the stoutest but not Jesuit Rugby players.
Eventually getting 15 players on the field, Jesuit tore into Highland and quickly began reining them in. Jesuit added four tries to one in the second half but the gap was just too great. Highland ran out winner 33-27 but what a game! So we had to settle for second in the nation – not a bad effort for a one school team.
Our tour took us to Dallas for the most enjoyable Jesuit Shootout against eight Jesuit teams from all over the country. It was a blast. Jesuit beat Dallas Prep II 45-0 in the first round, Regis by 54-3 in the second and overran Gonzaga by 62-6 in the final. It was a tour everyone enjoyed to the fullest.
During the season, we played UC Davis (won 13-7), Murray (lost 12-26), Carson Graham of Canada (won 22-3), Piedmont (won 25-0) and TAM Union (won 48-0).
We came, we saw, we almost conquered, but we won the Sacramento Valley and Norcal Championships in the process and finished second in USA at the Nationals. 2000 was a season to remember for all the right reasons.
Year – 1999
The third season for Jesuit High School Rugby began auspiciously with seventy enthusiasts primed to begin practice in early January. Jesuit continued their tradition of open-running rugby and the search for the strongest competition.
Jesuit was again privileged to play at Witter Field in Berkeley, prior to the University of California v. University of British Columbia match. Jesuit and Lamorinda met in a rematch of last years’ state semifinal, with Jesuit taking a 17-5 win in this “friendly” game. Jesuit later played College Park in the first annual “Rugby Holy Bowl,” winning that inaugural game 47-17. Jesuit then played in the Woodcreek Tournament, losing in the final to a combined Berkeley/Peninsula side 6-3. The first premonition of good things to come came on March 13, 1999, when Jesuit shocked the Shawnigan Lake Stags of Vancouver, British Columbia, the defending high school national champions of Canada. Jesuit won 50-27 in what gave a promise of future offensive fireworks.
Jesuit’s annual trip was a northwest tour in which 42 players and twenty adults traveled to Seattle, Washington, and Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia. A combined record of 5-1 included wins over Redmond and Tacoma in Seattle, wins over Burnaby in Vancouver and a loss 19-16 in a rematch with the Shawnigan Lake A-side. The Jesuit B’s, however, were able to win their game for the fifth win, 12-0. Jesuit then completed their season with an undefeated record, including wins over strong teams from Del Campo and Oakridge. In late April, Jesuit again took on the defending U.S. high school national champions Highland High School in a home game in which the Marauders were thrashed 57-14.
The high school playoffs began in late April early May. Jesuit was able to defeat Piedmont in the semifinals and then advanced to the California championship, which was played as a curtain-raiser to the international test match pitting the USA versus Tonga, held at Balboa Park in San Francisco, CA. Known as “The Comeback,” Jesuit was somnolent and lethargic for the first fifty minutes of the game. Lamorinda had the game won at 24-7, when inexplicably, the spark returned to Jesuit’s play, and they ran off twenty points in the last twenty minutes to upend the defending state champions, 27-24. Jared Siegel kicked a thirty-five yard penalty kick from the far left hashmark with no time left to win the game. Jesuit then had to scramble in order to make travel plans to leave for Utah within five days of g the state championship. Jesuit was the last team to arrive in Salt Lake City, and after playing games against Central High School of Kansas City, Missouri, and Westerville High School of Ohio, the rematch with Highland was set as a semifinal game for the national championship. Purposeful preparation, an inspired game plan, and magnificent performances by the first XV produced an unthinkable 15-14 win over Highland High School. Known as “The Game,” Highland’s coach called it “the biggest upset in high school rugby history.”
Jesuit then went on to defeat Greenwich High School of Connecticut in the finals, 47-22, to become the 1999 USA High School National Champions.
The 1999 team was a galvanized team that learned to depend upon one another and to work together on the field. The team was also blessed by having an influx of freshmen and sophomores that will allow us to maintain our strength for the future. The team was distinguished by a 75% representation on the Dean’s List, and with four players earning USA High School All-American honors (Pat O’Sullivan, Kyle Khasigian, Keith Corcoran, and Danny Kaufman). This year, three of our seniors joined the Cal Berkeley rugby team for the 2000 season (Matt Hedges, Casey Young, and Rory Miller), and one player received a scholarship to play rugby at the University of New Mexico (Josh Day).
The seniors of the 1999 team provided the resolve that allowed us to reach heights never before attained by a Jesuit team.
Final League Standings
1. Jesuit High School
2. Oak Ridge Gold
9. Oak Ridge Navy
Final National Standings
1. Jesuit, Sacramento, CA
2. Greenwich, Greenwich, CT
3. Highland, Salt Lake City, UT
4. Park Hill, Kansas City, MO
5. North Central, Indianapolis, IN
6. Westerville, OH
7. Penn, IN
8. Keio Academy, NY
9. Kentwood, WA
10. Rockhurst, IL
11. Wilmington, DE
12. Central Youth, Kansas City, MO
Year – 1998
The sophomore season for rugby at Jesuit High School in 1998 began with a jump-start from Barry O’Connell, our long-distance coach in Brisbane, Australia. He spent November and December with the team introducing new lineout variations and the patented Australian running rugby style.
We were privileged to play a friendly game against Lamorinda on Witter Field before a Cal Berkeley game on President’s day, which was a big thrill for everyone involved.
During league play we were undefeated up until the last game. The league championship was decided during an intense game versus Burbank that saw us “run out of time” at 21-5. The quarter finals saw us beat Elsie Allen 52-27. The semifinals were intense with a lot of offensive fireworks, but few points to show for it on Jesuit’s part. In sudden death double overtime, we lost on a penalty called and converted. We ended up tied for third in the state following that game.
During the season we introduced several new exciting ventures. We instituted a Rugby Holy Bowl with College Park (associated with Bellarmine High School in San Jose) which we plan to resume on an annual basis. We also took our first tour to Utah and played a high level of competition in Salt Lake City and Provo. We learned a lot about New Zealand style, tough forward play on this trip.
We consider 1998 to be a very successful year for the rugby team. We missed the playoffs by a try in 1997, and missed the state championship by a kick in 1998. We did this with 80% underclassman and 60% first year players on the 1998 team. The 1998 team had 40% sophomores, 30% juniors and 10% freshmen, so we feel that there is a lot of talent in the pipeline for the 1999 and future seasons.
The team was honored by 75% of the roster earning Dean’s List status, three players earning Jr. Pelican selections, and one player joining past Jesuit alumni at Cal Berkeley to play rugby.
The seniors of the 1998 team provided excellent leadership and set high standards for the underclassman to attain.
Final League Standings
1. Burbank 5-1
2. Jesuit 6-1
3. Vacaville 6-2
4. Oakridge 5-3
5. Roseville 4-3
6. Del Campo 3-5
7. Placer 1-5
8. Oakridge Navy 0-6-1
9. Davis 0-7-1
Year – 1997
This inaugural season for rugby at Jesuit High School was largely the result of the open-minded administration of Fr. Stiegeler and the support of athletic director Chris Smart. The large turnout of 50+ players welcomed moderator/coach Dan Ingoglia, Coach John Shorey, and Coach Crispin Cooke and included a strong nucleus of underclassman and an enthusiastic core of upperclassmen. Jesuit did extremely well in the two pre,-season tournaments and had a mini-tour to Santa Rosa at Easter. The 1st XV played strongly all season but faced very stiff competition in league eventually ending at 3 wins and 4 losses. However, the 2 state finalists were from our league and our games with them were thrillers.
The Bs and JVs generally outplayed their opponents and gave notice for the future. The team was honored by 4 Jr. Pelican selections, 4 Cal Berkeley recruits and approximately 12 seniors planning to continue rugby in college. The members of the 1997 team will be remembered for their enthusiasm and determination.
Final League Standings
1. Roseville 6-1
2. Vacaville 6-1
3. Del Campo 5-2
4. Burbank 4-3
5. Jesuit 3-4
6. Oakridge 3-4
7. Placer 1-6
8. Davis 0-7