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Northern California Season Kicks Off

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Northern California Season Kicks Off

Mother Lode is feeling pretty good these days. Tony Saint photo.

With the Northern California regular season kicking, we have already seen plenty of ups and downs with regard to results.

Mother Lode made the trip to East Palo Alto and came away with a well-earned 24-19 victory.

The game was very physical early on as both teams competed for the ball in all aspects of the game. Both teams traded scores early on and the game remained close until Mother Lode was finally able to make the key break with a well-orchestrated attack to seal the game. Spenser Enochian scored two tries, and Declane Curry also touched down. Taine Jones and Cormac Saint both had strong games and helped control field position with their kicking. Enochian and Will Stranberg were awarded man of the match honors by EPA

SFGG put together a nice result in holding off Danville 17-10.

"Danville are a very good side and they will continue to get better," said SFGG program director Tony Wells. "They put us under continuous pressure."

It's getting quick pally in NorCal high school rugby—Wells's brother Grant played for the USA with Danville Head Coach Kort Schubert some 20 years ago. Schubert and Granite Bay Head Coach Chris Miller (also capped by the USA) are good friends from back in their days at Jesuit Sacramento and then at Cal. Former Eagle and Cal All American Shaun Paga, who played with Schubert and Miller on the Eagles, is coaching at East Palo Alto. Coaching at SFGG now is Kevin O'Connor, who's a bit younger than those other coaches and was captain at Saint Mary's after playing with SFGG as a youngster. Lamorinda Head Coach Teaki Ofahengaue played with Miller and Schubert and Paga at Cal. 

So every weekend is a bit of a reunion.

For SFGG, they are clawing their way out of COVID shutdowns and the cost has been a year of players who didn't take up the sport. So they have a core of strong older players, and over 30 freshmen. The experience playing in a physical and demanding Northern California league drops off quickly.

"We do have a bunch of really good guys; we're not big but we're physical and we've got good skills," said Wells. "They're just a good bunch of guys and they work well with each other. Kevin brings in an extra dimension because he's only 27 and he relates really well with the players. He's part of the SFGG family, too."

SFGG was led by by flyhalf Pat Casey who runs the attack nicely, and hooker and captain Kieran Tingin is a smart, physical player who has become an excellent leader. Flanker Eddie Ramos is a fireplug of a flanker who is something of a junkyard dog, and injects some fearlessness into the team.

Granite Bay won big over a rebuilding Lamorinda 67-10. This is a case of one team hitting its stride while another just needs time.

"We're building on something," said Miller. "We're looking forward to playing Golden Gate next week. That will be a massive challenge and really we have a lot of work to do."

Elsie Allen won 46-17 over Liberty.

Next weekend De La Salle plays Jesuit of Sacramento in the NorCal School-team final. Mother Lode, which has enjoyed a superb start to the season, taking on Danville, Granite Bay (as Miller said) faces SFGG, and EPA plays Lamorinda in the Premier league.

Marin, which has been on tour to Italy using Irish Rugby Tours to make it work, will take a breath before diving into the season.