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It was a big weekend for Schuylkill River Rugby with Troop traveling to Blackthorn and earning a 21-17 victory and the Exiles getting a 34-10 win in a home match against the Washington Irish.
In the match against Blackthorn some early penalties gave easy field position to Blackthorn which helped the hosts take a 7-0 lead. Our guys fought back and evened things up off of a Dave Hilley intercept try. Towards the end of the first half we took a 14-7 lead thanks to a try from James Brunson which was assisted by John Hines Jr.
In the second half Blackthorn stuck to their strategy of relying heavily on the pick and go which starved us of possession. A try off of a messy lineout and a penalty kick gave them a 17-14 and it looked like time might run out on us. Thankfully Hines Jr. was able to break the line and carry the ball from inside our half into the opposing 22 and Ed Carter was able to finish off a sequence of picks to score on the last play of the match and give us a 21-17 win. Ryan Tower was steady with the boot all day to hit his 3 conversions.
After the match Coach Grasso said "we really had to weather the storm for the first 15 minutes as Blackthorn had a relentless attack. Our backs were hampered by a narrow, wet, field but took advantage of their opportunities. The forwards did a good job of stepping up to the challenge of repeated pick and goes and crash balls from the opposition. It was a great team win and the guys gave it everything until the final play.
Dave Hilley was named Man of the Match for his performance and Coach Grasso also mentioned Dave Gross, Hines, and Brunson as strong performers.
Tries: James Brunson, Ed Carter, Dave Hilley
Cons: Ryan Tower (3)
In the match against the Washington Irish we got off to a slow start on a muddy field and faced a 10-5 halftime deficit. The team battled back and had a great second half scoring 29 unanswered points to earn a 34-10 victory. Coach Pierce stated that “both sides struggled with the ground and wet ball. We battled through the first half, with some sloppy play putting us in trouble, but scrambling got us out of it. In the second half we took control with our attack coming together, on top of our territory management and defense suffocating our opponents.”
According to Director of Rugby Pat Boyle one of the things that set us apart was our bench. The subs we used came into the match ready to play and that gave us a big advantage. Boyle pointed specifically to the play of backs Matt Henderson and Jabari Johnson who brought a ton of speed into the match and let us pull away.
Austin Lucas was named Man of the Match by Coach Pierce for his work in the pack and other performers who earned recognition included Geoff Matthes, Dan Deal, Henderson and Johnson.
Tries: Sean Barnes (2), Jeff Hall, Dante Jacquet, Joe Midwig
Cons: Brian Keown (3)
Season Scoring Totals:
Tries: Jabari Johnson (3), Michael Bacon (1), James Brunson (1) Cody Bukowski (1), Ed Carter (1) Dave Hilley (1) Matt Hughes (1)
Cons: Ryan Tower (7)
Pens: Ryan Tower (1)
Tries: Sean Barnes (3), Randy Helsman (3) Joe Midwig (2), Dan Deal (2), Pat Boyle (1), Jeff Hall (1), Dante Jacquet (1) Brian Keown (1), Brad Volm (1)
Cons: Keown (3)
Pens: Keown (2)
There’s a youth movement in Schuylkill River’s on-field leadership with Brian Keown taking the reigns as Captain of the Exiles. Brian played locally for St. Joe’s Prep from 2008-2012 where he was the captain from 2011-2012 and the MVP in 2012. From there he went to the University of South Carolina where he played from 2012-2016 and was named MVP in 2015-2016 and SEC Player of the Year in 2016. At South Carolina he also played in the Collegiate Rugby Championship (CRC) in 2014 and 2016 and the USA Rugby 7s Collegiate Nationals from 2014-2016 as well as the USA Rugby 15s Collegiate Nationals in 2015 and 2016. Brian’s 7s skills have also seen him named to Atlantis sides that traveled to Barbados in 2017 and Las Vegas in 2018. Since joining Schuylkill River in 2016 Brian has established himself as a key player in both 7s and 15s and his efforts have earned him a D1 Backline MVP award at our 2018 awards banquet.
Helping Brian out with the Exiles is Vice-Captain Joe Midwig. Joe got his start playing rugby with the famed Calvert Hall program based out of Baltimore that also produced Schuylkill stalwart Matt Chiaramonte. After graduating in 2009 Joe matriculated to Drexel University where he played under current Schuylkill Coach Mike Burch until 2014 when he joined Schuylkill River. Joe’s natural leadership has led to him being named captain of his high school, college, and men’s club teams and his strong play on the field resulted in him being named an All-Conference performer in high school. While at Drexel, Joe also had the opportunity participate in the Collegiate Rugby Championship.
Leading the way for Troop is Ryan Tower who learned the game of rugby on the mainline with Conestoga High School from 2005-2008 where he was the Vice-Captain in 2008 and a member of the EPRU U19 All-Star team. Ryan went on to play at Millersville University from 2008-2012 where he was the Vice-Captain in 2011 and a member of the EPRU West All-Star team. After graduating, Ryan played for Philadelphia-Whitemarsh from 2012-2015 before coming to Schuylkill where he was named D3 Captain beginning in 2017.
Providing additional veteran leadership for Troop is Vice-Captain Dave Hilley. Hilley played a season of rugby for Marple Newtown High School in 1999 before graduating and playing for Drexel from 1999-2004. Hilley has been a member of Schuylkill River Rugby from 2004 to the present and in his time here he has been part of Schuylkill River teams that have played in National Sweet 16s and Elite 8s and he was Captain of the Schuylkill B-Side that won the MARFU B-side division. Hilley’s leadership qualities are apparent to everyone who takes the field with him which is what made him Coach Burch’s first choice for an Assistant Coach when he started coaching at Drexel, a position that Hilley has held since 2011.
The Exiles (D1) got themselves into the win column with a 36-22 bonus point victory over Baltimore-Chesapeake over the weekend. Baltimore showed up ready to play which led to them holding an 11-3 lead at halftime. According to Coach Burch “down 11-3 at half we stuck with our system and capitalized on a couple of Baltimore mistakes. Our bench stepped onto the pitch and proved to be the difference. We will enjoy the first win but understand that we have a long season ahead of us. Building on the win will be the focus.”
Tries were scored by Dan Deal (2), Pat Boyle, Joe Midwig, and Brad Volm with Brian Keown adding 4 conversions and a penalty kick. Deal was named man of the match by Coach Burch for his performance and other standout players included Keown, Volm, and Austin Lucas.
The Troop (D3) came close but weren’t able to make it two wins on the day losing 28-27 to a physical Brandywine side. After controlling possession in the early going we gave up tries on two breakaway runs to find ourselves down 14-0. The guys fought back to take a 15-14 lead before trading tries with Brandywine to find ourselves down 21-20. A late Brandywine try sealed the match but we did score on the last play of the match to salvage two bonus points.
After the match Coach Mastromatto stated that “there are a lot of positive points to take from today. To start, our veteran players James Brunson, Ryan Tower, the ageless Michael Bacon, Jeff Hall, Dave Hilley, and Eric Suchecki not only played extremely well, but also led the team on the front lines. They helped our younger players adjust quickly to the pace and physicality of Schuylkill River Rugby. Ultimately Brandywine made less mistakes and in the final 20 minutes capitalized on our turnovers which is what good teams do. Thankfully our mistakes are correctable with time and practice, and the team knows their potential to beat anybody.”
Tries were scored by the elusive Michael Bacon, Matt Hughes, Cody Bukowski, and Jabari Johnson with Ryan Tower adding 2 conversions and a penalty kick. In addition to the guys mentioned above, Coach Mastromatto singled out Aaron “Reno” Jolcover for man of the match honors for his work creating scoring opportunities out wide.
Season Scoring Totals:
Tries: Jabari Johnson (3), Michael Bacon (1), Cody Bukowski (1), Matt Hughes (1)
Cons: Ryan Tower (4)
Pens: Ryan Tower (1)
Tries: Dan Deal (2), Sean Barnes (1), Pat Boyle (1), Brian Keown (1), Joe Midwig (1), Brad Volm (1)
Cons: Keown (5)
Pens: Keown (1)
The fall 15s season started over the weekend and D3 (Troop) got things off to a winning start by beating Delmarva 14-12 in a road game played in the wind and mud. Delmarva found some gaps early in the match to take a 12-0 lead as the Troop exhibited some suspect ball handling in the early going. Thankfully our OC Bari Johnson was able to catch the defense slipping from behind to score a try and make the deficit 12-7 at the half following a conversion from FH Ryan Tower. During the halftime break Coach Ricky Schneider did a good job of explaining to the team that regardless of who might be more talented our opponents did a better job of adjusting to the conditions. Early in the second half, following a kick clearance, OC Bari Johnson ran it back like Marshall Faulk to score his second try of the match and give Troop a 14-12 lead following Tower’s second conversion which they would hold for the rest of the match.
Following the match Coach Schneider said this was a “solid first step for the D3 side. We came together in the second half to overcome a tough Delmarva side and the weather was a constant challenge. We will look to clean up the offensive structure and set piece moving forward.” Jabari Johnson earned man of the match honors for his efforts and Coach Schneider also praised the play of Jeff Hall who had a great defense effort and earned five turnovers, Ross McMonigle who was a workhorse in the tackles, Lake Paul who ran strong with ball in hand, and Matt Hugh who had a stellar debut at center after playing prop at Villanova.
Tries: Jabari Johnson (2)
Conversions: Ryan Tower (2)
The D1 (Exiles) match didn’t go as well for us as the boys lost 53-12 on the road to a very strong Rocky Gorge side. The tries were scored by the South Carolina kids Brian Keown and Sean Barnes with Keown hitting a conversion. Coach Burch said afterwards that "the scoreline does not reflect how competitive the match was. With the weather, handling errors seemed to be the difference. Some standout players included Brad Volm, Brian Keown, Sean Barnes, and Tyler Kelley. We now turn our attention to Baltimore next Saturday.
Tries: Sean Barnes (1), Brian Keown (1)
Cons: Keown (1)
Season Scoring Totals:
Tries: Jabari Johnson (2)
Cons: Ryan Tower (2)
Tries: Sean Barnes (1), Brian Keown (1)
Cons: Keown (1)
The first kickoff of the 2018-19 MAC 15s season is less than a week away. Schuylkill River has a lot of new, young, faces on the Board ready to lead us into the future. Let’s learn a bit more about our Board of Directors!
Board of Directors:
President – David Codell
Dave began his playing career with Second City Troop Youth before suiting up for Drew University where he did a little bit of everything as a 4 year officer (including 3 as Club President), 3 year Captain, and 2 year player coach. After graduating with a degree in economics and enrolling at the Villanova University School of Law, Dave joined the Second City Troop Men’s side. He served in various Board positions for Troop before becoming Club President from 2011 onwards, and also earned an MVP award for his on-field performance in 2013. Dave became a high school rugby coach in 2007 and continues to coach to this day, currently as a member of the Narberth Otters.
With the merger between Troop and Schuylkill in 2015 Dave became a Board Member at large for Schuylkill before stepping into the shoes of Schuylkill’s legendary founder and Club President Chris Bailey in 2016. Dave prides himself on giving back to the local rugby community and has been instrumental in helping to set up Schuylkill’s program at the Northeast Frankford Boys and Girls Club alongside Philadelphia Women’s Rugby and the North Philadelphia Nomads U-19 team. In addition to the positions mentioned above Dave has also coached at Haverford College, Schuylkill’s U-19 7s program, and Narberth’s summer flag rugby program.
When Dave isn’t on the rugby field, he’s working in Insurance and Risk Management Services for a large Hospital System.
Vice President – Ricky Schneider
A native of Texas, Ricky got his start playing for Texas State University before joining the Austin Blacks and then the San Marcos Greys. As a prop, Ricky gained valuable experience with the Blacks playing alongside USA Eagle, a current professional rugby player, Chris Baumann. After earning a Masters in International Relations from Texas State Ricky enrolled at the Villanova University School of Law to study international law and joined Schuylkill River Rugby’s front row. In addition to his domestic playing experience, Ricky also has international rugby experience having played in Cambodia and South Africa.
Despite being relatively new to the team, and the Philadelphia rugby community, Ricky has already stepped in and made an immediate impact by helping with rugby clinics for several local youth teams and by becoming a member of the East Penn Rugby Referees Society. Furthermore, Ricky has taken an active role in Schuylkill’s player development process by overseeing our strength and conditioning program and setting up off-season workouts specifically targeted for the front row players.
Treasurer – Hunter Valentine
Hunter began his rugby career under the tutelage of current Schuylkill River Head Coach Mike “Beaver” Burch at Drexel University where he was immediately successful on the field as a player, and off of the field as a club admin. In Hunter’s first year as a rugby player he earned Drexel’s Rookie of the Year award and then went in to serve as Vice President and the President of Drexel’s Club. An extremely cerebral player, Hunter graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2014 and currently works as a Product Development Engineer at Intact Vascular, a start-up medical device company.
Hunter’s organizational skills have been incredibly valuable to Schuylkill River in his role of 7s tournament coordinator in addition to his role as treasurer. Schuylkill has hosted a national 7s championship qualifying tournament each of the past two seasons and both of the tournaments have been hugely successful, and have provided a tremendous boost to our club’s overall visibility and profile, thanks to the work that Hunter has done behind the scenes.
Match Secretary – Ryan McHugh
Ryan grew up in the Northeast Frankford section of Philadelphia and graduated from Roman Catholic High School before attending St. Joseph’s University and picking up the game of rugby along the way. In his professional life Ryan is small business owner who runs a painting company.
As a rugby player/admin Ryan has done it all. His past and present coaching positions include Schuylkill River’s 7s open side and U-19 side, Roman Catholic, Neumann University, Temple University and Princeton University. Ryan has also volunteered with the Northeast Frankford Boys and Girls Club, the Wissahickon Braves, and the Narberth Otters flag rugby program. Ryan has also earned MVP honors 5 times in his men’s club rugby career and has served on various Boards in all positions.
Ryan has been a key component in Schuylkill’s commitment to giving back to the local community and connecting with the Philadelphia youth through rugby through his tireless involvement in our numerous youth initiatives. As he enters the twilight years of his playing career it is admirable to see his commitment to passing along the game of rugby to the next generation.
Recording Secretary – Dan Callahan
Born and raised in Northeast Philadelphia, Dan got his start playing rugby with the Northeast Raiders U-19 program where he played under current Schuylkill River teammate Greg “Loopy” Mininger. Dan went on to play for Kutztown University as a scrumhalf where he played alongside future USA Eagle and Pro Rugby player Niku Kruger. Dan graduated in 2013 with a degree in Cinema, Television and Media Production and is currently employed as a Videographer for QVC Inc. in West Chester PA, and does freelance video work in the greater Philadelphia area.
Dan has stepped away from the field as a player in order to focus on his professional life but he remains active with the Club in his new role and has taken the lead in greatly improving Schuylkill River’s social media presence with his graphic design skills and attention to detail. As a side note, since taking a Board position Dan has identified his life goal as striving to get a photo of Joel Embiid wearing Schuylkill River gear.
Director of Rugby – Pat Boyle
The pride of Tamaqua Pennsylvania, Pat has enjoyed an incredibly successful career in rugby to go along with a professional career that has seen him become the Budget Director for a New Jersey State Agency. At Villanova University Pat earned an invite to the USA 7s All American Camp and played summer 7s with the men’s team Lehigh Valley where he earned two trips to USA Rugby’s 7s national championship. As the founder of Schuylkill River’s 7s program Pat has gone to Nationals 8 times, won the MAC 5 times, and captained the side for 6 years. He has also served as the MAC 7s Coordinator from 2013 to the present. Pat’s other 7s playing accolades include making the MAC 7s All-Star Team 3 times and captaining it twice, taking tours to Paraguay and Trinidad & Tobago with the Atlantis 7s side, and playing with Cradle of Liberty in the City Selects tournament in 2015. Pat has also coached Temple in 2013 and Villanova in 2014 at the Collegiate Rugby Championship tournament in Chester.
As a 15s player Pat has played Division 1 men’s club rugby with Baltimore-Chesapeake, Potomac Athletic Club and Schuylkill River. While playing for Potomac, Pat competed in the Rugby Super League which can be looked at as a predecessor to today’s current Major League Rugby professional league. As a member of Schuylkill River’s 15s program Pat has served as Captain for 6 seasons and he helped guide Schuylkill River to a MAC championship and 5th place finish nationally in 2013.
Pat’s off-field contributions include serving as Schuylkill’s Match Secretary from 2008-2009, and Potomac’s Treasurer from 2010-2011. Pat took on Schuylkill’s Director of Rugby position in 2016 and deserves credit for immediately forming Schuylkill’s extremely successful U-23 Academy 7s team.