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AIC Brings Back Bulk of Lineup

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AIC Brings Back Bulk of Lineup

After fighting to a 5-1 record in the East Coast Rugby Conference (ECRC) in 2013, the AIC Yellow Jackets are hoping to go one better in the fall of 2014, and haul in last year’s top team, Middlebury.

Head Coach Josh Macy told Goff Rugby Report that the AIC performance last year was a good one, especially when you consider the experience level.

“We graduated a lot of guys the year before,” said Macy. “This year, we’ve bringing in a pretty strong Freshman class, but because we’re returning a lot of starters, this class is about depth and development rather than looking for guys to get on the field and play right away, which is what we did last year.”

AIC does lose Ben Roach, their outstanding center, but Macy said players such as Adrian Ray can step into that key role. Christian Adams also returns a more seasoned player who will feature more and more in the game plan.

Jihad Khabir, who comes to AIC from the Perry Street Pride program in DC, where Adams went to high school, and Jacob Ponder from the Orlando HS team in Florida, are two players who might push for starting places as freshmen.

But Macy said he is looking to put pressure on all players.

“We often recruit guys who haven’t payed rugby before,” said Macy, who was a crossover himself. “It’s great for the game and helps me stay with my roots in rugby. We have lots of guys pushing for playing time who came to us from that pathway.”

Macy points to former AIC football and then rugby player John Jackson, who is now playing well for the Northeast Olympic Development Academy.

Deshae Edwards returns at wing, and he was a junior college running back.

“These guys bring an athletic edge that a lot of high school rugby players don’t have.”

Looks also for Kurtis Werner to move from backup scrumhalf to starter. The spark plug #9 amps up the team’s tempo whenever he plays, and as such was an excellent impact sub. Macy expects him to drive the team’s pace of play from the get-go now.

Up front, the Yellow Jackets are solid, with the team losing only one player to graduation. Skyler Adams looks to slot in up front to fill that void.

As always, things are changing at AIC. Macy pointed out that last fall was the first time that his program has faced the same group of opponents in successive years. This year, once again things are largely unchanged, and the AIC lineup is largely unchanged. So, to shake things up, Macy has scheduled Army in September and Kutztown in November, just before the championship weekends.

“We’re excited about what we can do, but I also want us to challenge ourselves,” said Macey. “We have never played Army or Kutztown, but we want to play teams at that level, and we know that if we play those teams, we will need to play our best rugby, and that’s the goal.”