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Belmont Shore Gets By Tough SOC Raptors Team

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Belmont Shore Gets By Tough SOC Raptors Team

Southern California's Boys club season got a jolt over the weekend as the four teams expected to challenge for the championship were involved in two games.

SOC Raptors were downed by a solid Belmont Shore side 38-17. The Raptors did see Clarence Chaney and Jacob Bower score tries, while Keegan Hannon added a conversions and a penalty, and Redmond Chelsey also added a penalty.

The Raptors put Belmont Shore under pressure especially in the opening minutes, but a penalty and a long kick from Belmont put Shore up 7-0. The Raptors continued to have the lion's share of the territory through the first half, but Belmont led 14-3 at the break.

Belmont Shore Head Coach Johnny Pua said his club's tour of New Zealand and their experiences at the HS National Championships helped the players learn to believe they could—and should—play fast.

"We get a penalty or a turnover we want to go fast and catch them offside. Any opportunity we want to take advantage of it," said Pua.

The Raptors, meanwhile, exerted pressure and turned that pressure into penalties that were kickable, but into a stiff wind. They kicked only one out of four.

That success rate had the team rethinking their approach int he second half, and they started to make inroads. However, by then Belmont Shore had scored twice and were in the lead 28-3. The Raptors started to create some shape and worked a nicely-taken try for Chaney. Belmont punished a mistake to answer, and then SOC's Bower ran in from 30 meters to make it 33-17.

Belmont Shore scored one more after that.

Raptors were missing some players due to spring break, and got yeoman's work from tighthead prop Mahlik Brown and flanker Waylon Davis.

But Belmont Shore came in ready to go despite missing some players who were at a 7s tournament in Maui (nice work if you can get it).

Lenn Ibarra, a freshman, as outstanding at flyhalf for Belmont Shore. He is beginning to read the game really well and his ability to make decisions based on what is in front of him makes him really useful. Up front Princeton Tusa led the forward effort and was a monster wherever he plays, gaining yards, working the rucks, and making tackles. Captain and hooker Nathan Vargas was excellent at organizing the Shore players away from the ball.

"We're fortunate that the competition here in Southern California is so amazing," said Pua. "But the competition at Nationals is amazing, too. "We took a young team to Nationals last year and the boys really weren't happy with second, and they had the mindset of: 'coach, we want to go back there.' And really it has a lot to do with how they approach it mentally—that translates into how they approach everything else in their lives."