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Top Powers Meet in Storer HS Classic

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Top Powers Meet in Storer HS Classic

John Conor Shalloe leads Santa Monica. Elizabeth Michalak photo.

Twelve high school rugby teams will compete in the HS Boys bracket of the Storer Classic, including some national contenders.

Defending Northern California Premier and Pacific Cup champions Danville Oaks will field an A and B side, and eight other high school programs will field their A sides. In addition, two combo teams - a Utah combo team and a NorCal combo team, made up of players from those regions - will participate.

For Danville, this is the first run-out for a team that graduated some key performers last year, including the 2015-16 GRR HS Player of the year, Keanu Andrade. 

Like a lot of teams in California, Danville has found it difficult to get training time in. But Program Director Jon Straka said the players are getting into the swing of things.

“We have a strong core of 3rd-year varsity players, but also a lot of new faces and guys from last year’s JV team who have big shoes to fill,” said Straka. “It might take us a while to get going and figure out what we have, especially in the pack.”

The players who are the three-year starters include hooker Ben Hoffman, prop Isaia Taotua, lock Austin Strehlow, No. 8 Elijah Tafao-Braganza, flyhalf Chris Toetuu, center Kevin Saunders, and wing Carlos Gomez. So while Danville has to figure out what they’ve got in the pack, they also have have four experience forwards returning.

Also in action is longtime Utah power United. Head Coach Colin Puriri said that while his captain, Bailey Wilson, “is one of the best players in the country.” The loose forward is certainly a strong player, but United is in a bit of a rebuilding phase.

“We have two backs returning, and we have no returning front row,” said Puriri. “So we will see how we do. This will be a good opportunity for us to play some tough teams and get a sense of what we have.”

Santa Monica is also in action, and Head Coach James Gibb will be without Quinn Perry, Jeremy Ockomichalak, and Danny Crowley, who are all going to be in USA U20 camp. Gibb, however, has some talented players to lean on, including John Conor Shalloe, Dylan James, Lucien Meschin, and Ryan Suggs in the backs, and Avery Vignolle, Cole Schifer, Max Detamore, Chase Capiti, and Maxime Rieuf in the forwards.

“We still have a strong group, many who've been playing together for over six years and twice won SoCal in young age groups,” said Gibb. “We've only had a few practices this season so we will be rusty …. it’s going to be a wake up call for some of the new guys.”

SFGG comes with a team that has undergone some changes, as the Archbishop Riordan program has folded into the Golden Gate group. 

Snow Canyon is back for the Storer Classic, and the southern Utah team has Andy Day at flyhalf, but will also be figuring out how to fill some graduation holes.

Lamorinda is looking to rebound from a winless NorCal Premier season in 2016. The program, one of the largest in the region, should have the depth to bounce back. Same goes for Mother Lode, which ended the NorCal Premier season 1-5 last year.

The Irvine Rhinos and new Sacramento-area team Center Parkway round out the group. 

Lamorinda, SFGG, and Mother Lode will contribute players to a NorCal Combo team, and Utah and Snow Canyon will contribute players to the Utah Combo team.

 

Saturday Jan 14 Games
930 SFGG v Santa Monica
1020 Mother Lode v Snow Canyon
1110 Danville A v Irvine Rhinos
1200 Lamorinda v United
1250 Danville B v NorCal Combo
1340 Utah Combo v Center Parkway
1430 Santa Monica v Mother Lode
1520 Snow Canyon v SFGG
1610 United v Danville A
1700 Irvine Rhinos v Danville B
1750 Center Parkway v Lamorinda

 

Sunday Jan 15 Games
900 Irvine Rhinos v Lamorinda
1040 Danville B v Center Parkway
1130 SFGG v Mother Lode
1220 Santa Monica v Danville A