Goff Rugby Twitter     Goff Rugby Facebook

Gibbons, Hammerheads to Florida HS Final

irish rugby tours

Gibbons, Hammerheads to Florida HS Final

Gibbons picked up the pace in the second half of the season. Photo Rick Comisky.

It will be Cardinal Gibbons vs Naples in the final of the Florida Rugby U19 championship after those teams won semifinal games Saturday.

Naples, aka the SWFL Hammerheads, edged a rebuilding but tenacious Jacksonville team 22-19 to make it through the semifinals. For the Hammerheads this was their 7th straight victory in Florida competition and the third decided by less than a try.

In a very intense match. Jacksonville came out aggressively and scored a quick try off a scrum penalty. The Hammerheads came back to score two tries to take a 12-7 lead at halftime.

Naples was hit with injuries, however, with their loosehead prop and wing needing to be replaced. Fortunately for the Hammerheads, their replacements, Jake Delaney and Cam Primus both finished off good offensive movements to score tries. Also scoring were centers Emerson Vargas and Wes Piggins.

Good speed and dominant tackles by the Hammerhead forwards helped to limit Jacksonville’ impressive speed on the outside, but they they did turn in a spectacular 80-meter score late in the game when the front pressure failed.

"We’ve got good speed in our backs but that kid looked like he was fired out of a cannon," said Naples Head Coach Dan Marks.

Gibbons, meanwhile, had taken a while to heat up, opening the season later than other teams and losing their first two games. They tied their third, lost the next, but ended the season with their first victory, a 54-0 drubbing of a Jacksonville team missing several players.

But it was enough. Gibbons won the 8th-vs-9th play-in over Cape in a shortened 35-0 shutout and seemed on a roll from there. They beat Okapi 31-19 last week and this week against the Boca team they'd tied 7-7 a month ago, won 36-3. 

Even in that game Gibbons seemed to start slowly, and Boca took an early 3-0 lead.

"Boca had more energy the first 15 minutes," said Gibbons Coach Eric Aumann. But Gibbons then settled down and ran in three tries before halftime. But the second half still saw Boca battle. Cardinal Gibbons were led by Javon Pierre and Broc Weaver up front and captain Joseph Navas. 

"We managed to make the most of some mistakes by Boca," said Aumann. "And we managed to pull away; they were doing what they could to find a way to score and get back into the game. Boca is always a solid side and never easy. They fought from start to the final whistle and that is what I love about playing them."

The regular-season meeting between Gibbons and the Hammerheads was postponed and ultimately not played, so this will be the first meeting between the team that led from post to post and the team that kind of came out of nowhere.

"Naples looks to be a huge challenge for us," said Aumann. "They have had an amazing season and although we have found success the past four weeks, we are still working to improve and find a way we can win. Nothing wrong with taking a lunch pail to work each time and grinding out a good day. Its how America was built."