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SoCal Red Division Preview - Repeats and New Threats

HS Boys

SoCal Red Division Preview - Repeats and New Threats

Anna Scipione photo

The Champion for the Southern California Red Division takes home the Titan Shield, signifying the best high school rugby team in Southern California.

Last year Torrey Pines beat La Costa Canyon 38-27 in the final, avenging their league matchup, which saw LCC prevail on a last minute converted try. Torrey Pines defeated Mira Costa in overtime in the hard fought semi-final, and those three schools look to be near the top again.

Torrey Pines returns a host of starters, particularly in the back line. Scrumhalf Beau Morgans returns, as does always exciting Center Matt Goena, who had two tries in last year's final. Perhaps even more valuable to the Falcons' effort is the return of last year's freshman phenom Oren Cargill, who looks to assume flyhalf duties.

"Our returning backs are skilled and athletic" according to Falcons coach Matty Sandoval. "We have work to do in the pack, but hope to build around HSAA prop Mike Perrone."

Mira Costa also lost some valuable forwards to graduation, but return Jonah Tavai, who most consider the best high school player in the region. The Mustangs use him creatively, lining him up at prop, No. 8, center, and even scrumhalf. He is a load wherever they put him.

LCC was hit hard by graduation, particularly their superb back line. New head coach Mike Maister welcomes former Torrey Pines backs coach Brian Murray to his staff. They have their work cut out for them, but look to returning starters Nik Lundquist and Aiden Reyes to lead the way.

Additional big news in the division is that Fallbrook has worked through its difficulties on campus and is back as a varsity team. This is big news for the former division champions, and important in terms of the growth of the Varsity Red, which is a step toward rugby being a California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) sanctioned sport. Also joining the Red Division is San Clemente.

In the Los Angeles region, St. John Bosco, last year's fourth semifinalist, is always a tough out with their contingent of footballers.

Others with a shot at the Shield are St. Augustine and Cathedral. St. Augustine looks particularly strong, led by four year starting scrumhalf Ethan McVeigh. Andy Alves, their powerful Center, will surely get a college football offer, and may need to get permission to complete his final high school rugby season. Alves is comparable to Mira Costa's Tavai in both size and athleticism. Cathedral returns line out master Brandon Chung at second row, and starting  fullback Brady Connelly, who will probably move to flyhalf.

So who will take home the Shield? Last year's top three Torrey Pines, LCC, and Mira Costa should all contend. St. Augustine could well raise its hand this year.