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Dallas Jesuit, Strake, St. Thomas to 2-0 in Texas

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Dallas Jesuit, Strake, St. Thomas to 2-0 in Texas

Strake Jesuit bulls through. David Bennett photo.

Three teams are at 2-0 in the Rugby Texas Single-School league after Friday night saw Dallas Jesuit, Strake Jesuit, and St. Thomas all won.

Dallas Jesuit Over Lake Travis

The Rangers scored early through Mitch Sullivan and built on that with a try from senior Neil Lancaster, both converted by Jordan Mason to make it 14-0.

Lake Travis replied and kept is a one-score game until scrumhalf Jacob Lehman picked up and sniped through for a try that Mason converted for a 21-7 lead.

Once again Lake Travis hung tough and got a try in to make it 21-14.

But that was it for LT as Chase Brown and Austin Smith capped off the game for the Rangers. Final score: 33-14.

"We are really starting to come into our own," said Dallas Jesuit head Coach Matt Upton. "We were very young last year on the varsity level and we started gelling towards the end. But this new single school competition really puts some new challenges in front of us. We still haven’t played our best rugby, and have not hit our stride at full strength. The growth of the club has really pushed all of us to play with an identity."

Dallas finished second to St. Thomas in the state final last year, the format of which was a bit of a precursor to the new single-school league of eight teams.

"We all know that our goals are up ahead of us," continued Upton. "We will have to play every local team twice, and that brings new challenges. With Strake and St. Thomas right around the corner we know we need to keep working harder to get to our best rugby for a post season push."

Along with the try-scorers, the Rangers can rely on seniors Judd Kirby and O’Neal Murray as the defensive mainstays. New to rugby this year Luke Selner and Ian Smith have been making big strides toward their understanding of the game. But, added Upton, it's a team effort. 

"We’ve had guys step up so that if and when we have a player out the next man really does come in without us missing a beat," Upton explained. "Over the last two weeks we have seen nine debutants on the first 15 and it just shows how much these guys work together."

With the victory, Dallas Jesuit is now 2-0 after their convincing win over Faith Family Academy over a week ago.

Lake Travis, which beat Allen HS in a tight one last week, drops to 1-1. 

St. Thomas Over St. Pius X

Also moving to 2-0 was St. Thomas with an impressive 22-0 shutout of their heated cross-Houston rivals St. Pius X.

St. Thomas flyhalf Tommy Erb, playing in just his second game at his new position, led a solid defensive effort and is starting to piece together the attack.

"The kids in general are playing hard but we're not quite there with such an early start to the season," said St. Thomas Director of Rugby James Wolfinger. "Still, two wins on the trot is a good start."

Last week St. Thomas beat Woodlands HS 31-19. (The Woodlands club is fielding a single-school team in this league but they also have their club team.)

The St. Thomas-St. Pius game was well attended as it is an intense rivalry for those schools in any sport. The fans enjoyed what was a hard-nosed contest. St. Thomas captain Jacob Mitchell led from the front at prop, while wing Rocco Hill may not be big but he tackles bravely and kept the St. Pius exterior attack in check.

While St. Thomas has a solid cadre of freshmen players (wing Zander Young is already a starter) and sophomores with experience and talent, they are also bolstered by seniors coming in to play for the first time now that football is over. One of them, John Ridley, played in his first game and scored the game-sealing try.

Strake Jesuit Over Woodlands HS

Strake Jesuit also advanced to 2-0 with a 41-15 defeat of Woodlands HS. It's a very deep Strake team with plenty of experience in the backline with scrumhalf Alessandro Directo and flyhalf Christian Bennett leading the way.

It was a good start against a Woodlands team that handles tight play very well. Bennett has been electric and has developed his vision and kicking skills nicely. Add to that some significant tackling and rucking skills and he covers a lot of bases.

"He is the spoon stirring the pot on attack and defense," said Head Coach Jason Kimball. "He is also making crucial on the field adjustments on his own that makes our coaching staff look really good (despite it being mostly his vision)"

Directo is hard-working and relentless on defense and difficult to contain on attack. 

Add to that center/flanker Nick Leone, who can play either position with impact, and fullback Greg Higgins is a big, powerful fullback who tackles, runs hard, and kicks well.

With lock Israel Omondi back at second row and hard-working Nick Hernandez partnering with him, Daniel Walls moving from center to prop, and Marcus Harris playing flanker and front row, they are putting together a really interesting forward pack.

Also this week Allen HS rebounded from a close loss to Lake Travis to shut out Faith Family Academy 60-0. 

Latest unofficial standings after Week 2:

Texas School League W L T PF PA PD BT BL Total
Dallas Jesuit 2 0 0 120 19 101 2 0 10
St. Thomas 2 0 0 53 19 34 2 0 10
Strake Jesuit 2 0 0 55 22 33 1 0 9
Allen 1 1 0 84 26 58 2 1 7
Lake Travis 1 1 0 40 57 -17 1 0 5
St. Pius X 0 2 0 7 36 -29 0 1 1
Woodlands HS 0 2 0 34 72 -38 0 0 0
Faith Family Academy 0 2 0 5 147 -142 0 0 0