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Raptors vs Thunder Highlights SoCal Weekend

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Raptors vs Thunder Highlights SoCal Weekend

Clarence Chaney charges on for the Raptors.

SOC Raptors, Belmont Shore, and the San Diego Mustangs all won in Southern California's HS Club season as all three moved to 2-0.

For Belmont Shore, the defending HS Club National Champion, their win was fairly straightforward, 59-0 over Rancho Cucamonga and a rebound from a close loss to touring Woodlands earlier in the week. 

San Diego won big, as well, defeating Back Bay 56-7.

Things were a little tighter for the Raptors, who edged Thunder Rugby 38-33.

The Raptors, too, were rebounding from a loss to Woodlands (see more about the Woodlands tour of SoCal here: Woodlands Goes 2-0 on Tough SoCal Trip)

"As we planned out our season, we wanted to make sure our teams played the best team in the country," said SOC Coach Sam McMillan. "This week was a start of the 4 game stretch vs Woodlands, Thunder, Mustangs, and Belmont Shore."

All four of those teams are ranked in the GRR HS Club top 10. "Coming through a week like this at 1-1 is not perfect but for early-season results we learned a lot about this team, and the ceiling they have—we're starting 10 underclassmen, with a few of them still sophomores."

In SOC's 38-14 loss to Woodlands, center Austin Diaz and prop Clarence Chaney scored tries and young fullback Jesse Torres converted both.

"Overall we were very happy with our intent," said McMillan. "We matched the Woodlands physically in every aspect." McMillan also pointed to penalties putting the Raptors under pressure and with good kicking from Woodlands and three maul tries put them under the kosh.

"Biggest work-ons were discipline, carry-versus-offload, and our execution in our own 22," said McMillan. "Lots of opportunity to improve versus a top-three team in their midseason."


Saturday rivals Raptors and Thunder battled back and forth. Wing Alex Lara scored two tries and Chaney, playing No. 8, scored two, while flanker Waylon Davis and Diaz at center scored one. Torres converted three and Redmond Chelsey added one conversion.

"Always small margins in games with Carlsbad," said McMillan. "In the last four games since 2021 all games were settled with a margin of less than one score, and on the last play of the game. We knew we were up for a hard game, but also ready to correct some of the mistakes we made on Thursday vs the Woodlands. Overall I loved our intent to speed up tempo, carry, and we scored some great tries."

McMillan credited backs coach Craig Hartley and forwards coach Scott Bracken for their work. But they also felt they let Thunder back into the game—the Raptors would score and then make mistakes in their own 22 and Thunder would punish them.

"Every time we looked like getting away, we let them score off a poor exit," said McMillan.

Still, with the score 38-26 SOC had just enough cushion, but Thunder didn't stop and scored late to make it 38-33. SOC held on, though.

Chaney has been outstanding, making huge carries. Co-captain Davis made several huge stops on defense, and the other captain, Colin Donnelly, hit rucks and carried hard.

"It doesn't get easier," said McMillan. "We play Mustangs on Friday night, have a week bye, and then Belmont Shore. We will need to clean up our execution in the 22 and discipline which hurt us yesterday vs Carlsbad."