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Back Bay v Belmont Shore a SoCal Classic

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Back Bay v Belmont Shore a SoCal Classic

Full of powerful runners, Belmont Shore is making a run.

It's a clash of two 4-0 teams in Southern California this weekend as Belmont Shore faces Back Bay Saturday.

This is a rivalry of fairly epic proportions, as the two clubs have had many heated clashes not only at the high school level, but at the men's senior level, as well. Back Bay is 4-0 by virtue of a forfeit win over Los Angeles last week, a fairly comfortable victory over Santa Clarita, and two squeakers - 24-22 over South Bay, and 10-9 over Santa Monica.

 Back Bay Wins Close One - SoCal Latest

Belmont Shore, at first glance, has looked a shade better, getting that forfeit win over Los Angeles, but also winning big over Santa Clarita and Empire. Last week they took on a very tough South Bay team and beat then 36-28.

"We've got a good team that's learning to play together," said Belmont Shore Head Coach Ramsey Tuaua. "We are giving up a lot of penalties, and that's one thing we need to work on. But the guys are working hard and they've really responded."

Made up of players from all walks of life, but with many from low-income neighborhoods, Belmont Shore has blossomed under Tuaua's tutelage. He has banned swearing at practices and games, and he constantly preaches humility and sportsmanship.

"The brotherhood and camaraderie of rugby is very important," he said. "This is how these players are learning to play less as individuals and more as teammates. I tell them, they are cussing because they lack the vocabulary to express themselves, so they have to improve their vocabulary to communicate better."

Belmont Shore has some talented athletes - an influx from the new Centennial HS team (Compton Team Embraces Rugby), and also players from Wilson HS and other nearby teams. William Satuala is a monster of a center who was a star running back for Jordan HS in Long Beach, Calif.

"He's like a bulldozer in a sandbox," said Tuaua. 

Jeremy Munoz, Shawn Winston, and Ryan Dowgiewics, who all were part of a strong Wilson HS single-school program and have stepped up for Belmont Shore.

Back Bay, for their part, is missing Mateo Gadsden, who is with the HS All American team. But they have the depth to take on this challenge.

"This is an important game for both clubs as we are trying to secure a spot to playoffs and Belmont is as well, and has been absent for a few years," said Back Bay Head Coach Jeff Bonnett. "Most of the kids know and play together either for or against each other in high school football as well as the [single-school] rugby season. It should be fun as both clubs are undefeated. This game for us will decide if our players buy into the structure they've been taught. We will miss Mateo, but [his absence] gives an opportunity for someone else to step up. Belmont's been scoring a lot of points so it may be our defense that must step up if we want to compete in this game and of course score a few points ourselves in the cause."

Bonnett said his team is still trying to find its identity, and Tuaua added his team remains a work in progress. This game will tell us a lot. If Back Bay wins, they should claim the North Gold. If Belmont Shore wins, they still have to face a very tough Santa Monica (currently 3-1) next week. 

In the South Gold, the San Diego Mustangs are being the Coastal Dragons, but only because they've played fewer games. The Mustangs are unbeaten and will wrap up their games with three matchups in the next two weekends. They are favored to win all of them.

And in Tri-Counties, Arroyo Grande has it all wrapped up at 9-1.

The conference winners will qualify for the April 29 quarterfinals, as will the #2 and #3 teams from the North and the South (the loser of this weekend's Back Bay v Belmont Shore game, probably Santa Monica, Coastal Dragons, and probably the Aztec Warriors). There is one more spot for a wild card, and that will likely be Orca out of Tri-Counties.