Men's Club Updates
The stage was set for a climactic finish to the 2013 Spring season for the Canton Maddogs as they traveled to Youngstown to play Steel Valley in the 2nd Annual Micheal Hartzell Rugby Classic. The rivalry between these two teams has been back and forth for the past 20 years. But with both teams on the upswing, Saturday's game was anticipated to be the toughest match of the season. The weather was not typical of a normal spring game, with temps in the low 50's and kickoff not slated til 730. But once the lights came on and the action started, things got heated up pretty quickly. Youngstown took advantage of a few missteps by Canton and scored their first try within 10 minutes, and converted the kick, putting them up 7-0. The Maddogs came right back on the ensuing kickoff, pressuring Steel Valley back towards the try line with pack pounding and efficient passes. Doug Higgins was able to put down the first try for Canton, and John McMullen converted the kick to tie it up at 7 at the 16 minute mark. In what seemed just a matter of minutes, Canton was back on the scoreboard, this time Kris Carroll touching down at 22 minutes. McMullen converted, 14-7 Canton. Not wasting any time and knowing that their opponent could score as quickly as them, the Maddogs put in another try just before halftime. Scott Hills took a Matt Carmany inside pass and dove over the try line. McMullen converted to put Canton up 21-7 for the half.
The Second half started with Canton kicking to Youngstown, and Steel Valley was poised to launch their offensive attack. Canton's Chad Menegay had something else in mind. Chad was able to step in between their back line, intercept a pass and head to the try zone for Canton's 26th point. McMullen was unsuccessful on the kick after. Steel Valley started their comeback on the ensuing kickoff, though, and was in the try zone within 5 minutes, putting the score at 26-14 at the 58 minute mark. Rolling subs and their big back line helped Youngstown secure two more try's at the 67 and 72 minute mark, but they did not convert either kick. 26-24. Youngstown was able to take the ball right back at Canton, and had them pinned down within their own 5 meter line for 3 of the final 4 minutes of the match. Canton's defense did not bend, and McMullen was able to kick to touch to secure the win for Canton, 26-24.
Captain Doug Higgins said "This was a classic match-up, reminding me of the days when I started playing in Canton 20 years ago. Our physicality against Youngstown's athletic ability. It was back and forth all night, and I am so proud of my team for standing up at the end, not backing down, not breaking. That's the definition of Maddog rugby right there."
Head Coach Dan Sturtz added "All season long, I have used one term for the team 'Be there'. I coached the guys to be there for one another when one makes a break. Be there when your teammate needs you to ruck over him. Be there when the defense needs you to make the tackle. It was clearly evident tonight that the team took that to the field, as they have all season. They played their hearts out for 80 minutes, and I couldn't be more proud of this group of ruggers. Our team finished with a record of 6-1, one of the best that I have witnessed. These players are a part of rejuvenating the Canton Rugby Club back to prominence in the Midwest Division."
Canton will wrap up the spring season with middle school rugby action Saturday at Weis Park at 11:00am, with Oakwood hosting Dover. The annual Old Dogs vs. Young Pups match will follow at 2:00pm.