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Raptor Rugby Takes Tennessee Title

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Raptor Rugby Takes Tennessee Title

Stone Wilkinson goes over for the game-winner.

The 2022 High School Boys Tennessee State Rugby Final pitted two nationally-ranked clubs who took on all comers this season locking horns in a dramatic final.

The Raptors showed their intent early taking a quick 12-0 lead through the trio of freshman Bishop Reilly, Eli Bauman, and Senior Mike McWilliams scoring  the first of his three tries on the day.  Max Orefice successfully converted on the first try.   

Germantown never quit and after blowing off the rust got stuck in and took advantage of and forced several Raptor miscues to come storming back with strong running from Center Will Grant and tries from Nathan Lear and Ryan Winfrey.  Kicker George Vezina slotted in a 30-meter penalty kick to tie the score at halftime 17-17. 

The second half started off like the first with McWilliams again dotting down, giving the Raptors a 22-17 lead after a missed conversion.  Germantown again fought back with a strong try by Junior prop William Toy and a Vezina conversion giving Memphis their first lead at 24-22. 

The remainder of the match was played mainly in the forwards with blistering defense and crashing runs on both sides led by Memphis No. 8 Ian Bullock and Raptors Bailey Black, Reece Lee, Nick Orefice and Parker Morris. Finally prop Brysten Appleton touching the ball down to give the Raptors back the lead at 27-22. 

Once again Germantown fought back with a moment of individual brilliance by Logan Taylor who took the kick off, broke several tackles and scored in the left hand corner to tie the score at 27-27.  Vezina’s conversion from a difficult angle was just wide and gave the Raptors one final chance as time expired. 

The forwards again provided a flawless lineout and offensive ruck speed and runs by Orefice, Appleton, Black, and Noah Dixon before scrumhalf Zander Smartt backed himself and drove inside the Germantown 22.   

It was there the Raptor backs put together clean phase play getting the ball to senior flyhalf and University of Tennessee signee Stone Wilkinson, who used his speed and determination to score a dramatic crossfield try to secure the 32- 27 win and cap off a perfect 11-0 Season. 

Mike McWilliams ends his High School Rugby career as he started it with his third hat-trick in as many weeks and a Finals MVP trophy.  McWilliams will be plying his trade next year at The University of Arizona. 

First year Head Coach Daniel Griff brought a calm, dialed in sideline approach to the club this year and it paid dividends with two state titles (7s and 15s) and a perfect 11-0 season.