Goff Rugby Twitter     Goff Rugby Facebook

Gibbons Upsets Hammerheads to Win Florida HS Title

irish rugby tours

Gibbons Upsets Hammerheads to Win Florida HS Title

Cardinal Gibbons capped a full season rebound on Saturday.

In a game that turned out to be quite the upset, Cardinal Gibbons defeated the Naples Hammerheads 34-14 to win the Florida Boys High School final.

Naples had not lost all season before Saturday while Gibbons had had to pull themselves out of a 0-3-1 start, winning five straight to take it all. 

The game itself was very physical and the flow of the game showed it to be much closer than the score might indicate.

"When we saw their film from three recent games we had a feeling that we would have good success," said Gibbons Head Coach Eric Aumann. "We had much respect for them because they were undefeated and we were not at that same level of success. However, we did not expect that they would match our physicality perfectly."

In addition, throughout the season Gibbons found they had to battle to make it to the championship match, and that hardened them for the final. Gibbons finished 9th in the standings after the regular season and had to play off with Cape for the right to play in the quarterfinals. They won that game convincingly and beat Okapi in the quarters and Boca in the semis. 

So when it was only 10-7 at halftime Gibbons wasn't shaken.

"We saw our fitness making a big difference in many areas," said Aumann. "The smashmouth rugby of both sides is tiring. Our normal gains of one to three meters in the first half started being gains of five to 15 meters."

Both teams went into the game with injuries and in fact Gibbons had to replace their starting flyhalf after ten minutes. But Naples was thin on the bench; the long season had taken its toll.

"We have very good depth, with 30 total players traveling on the U19 so we don’t really lose anything when we make replacements," said Aumann. "When you have that depth, it is not easy for the other team. They are a team that is equal in talent to us no doubt. We just had very good finishers to bring in and our level of fitness seemed to be just slightly better today."

Gibbons was led by flanker Jack O’Keefe, who hardly put a foot wrong, and wing Jai Levinson moved to flyhalf early in the game and was key in keeping the Gibbons offense stable and productive.

Prop JT Black was a power runner who was one of those making the big yardage in the second half.

"We do not have a problem with a  fast prop carrying the ball if he is hard to stop. He was amazing today," said Aumann.