By Tim Pickwell
The Southern California High School Youth Rugby League, with 35 teams, is still in its infancy. Recognizing a need to attract players and to teach inexperienced older players about the game, League rules permit “Junior Varsity” squads to play up to five juniors, and even inexperienced seniors.
The Torrey Pines JV, on the other hand, carries 21 freshman and sophomores — which led to its first loss in four years at San Pasqual in January, when the shorthanded Falcons played a 10 v. 10 match, and half the Eagles team was juniors. The Falcons barely lost, 22-19, but the lesson was learned.
The well-stocked Torrey Pines Varsity then sent three reinforcements to round out the JV ranks for the final two matches of the season: juniors Jaun Pawluszek, Gunnar Moseman, and Dylan Fetzer.
Would it be enough against undefeated La Costa Canyon on Feb. 2 at Torrey Pines Stadium? LCC plays five juniors, and had whacked San Pasqual by 40 points two weeks earlier.
Yes. With Torrey Pines JV’s sophomore leader Brandon Cole scoring and breaking long runs up the middle, the junior additions played key roles in shoring up the JV ranks, and helped the squad defeat LCC, 21-19, in a nail biter. Cole was named “Man-of-the-Match.” Freshman flyhalf Lucas Cruz had three conversions (point-after-attempts) — which turned out to be the difference in the tough match.
Cruz was also instrumental with a deceptive run and a “dummy” (i.e. fake) 20 minutes into the match, which allowed him to pitch to Pawluszek for the team’s first try. Moseman helped shore up the wing position on the other side, but it was the play of flanker Dylan Fetzer that impressed Head Coach William “Chief” Leversee.
“He was hard-nosed and aggressive all day. Dylan was a real defensive force for us in the middle. We’re glad to have him.”
Sophomore center Alec Packer also scored for Torrey Pines, while big (230 LB) sophomore prop Cole Maes-Valley was a big force in the rucks and scrums for the Falcons.
The Torrey Pines JV finishes No. 2 in the San Diego White Division to LCC, however. Both teams finished, 5-1, but LCC won on standings points, 26-25. Torrey Pines will Palos Verdes (the No.1 seed from Los Angeles) next week for the first round of the playoffs, while the LCC Junior Varsity will probably face undefeated Desert Sands.