Junior Gents power into state rugby final
The Aspen Times
The Junior Gents are going back to the state championship rugby game.
The team of high school rugby players from the Roaring Fork Valley scored a hard-fought 31-12 victory over a bigger Fort Collins team last weekend in Denver.
The Junior Gents, who won the Colorado Division II state title last year, will return to defend their state championship.
They will take on PAC at Infinity Rugby Stadium in Glendale at 12:40 p.m. Saturday.
Early on in the state semifinal, Fort Collins bulled into the Junior Gents, forcing the local ruggers to defend again and again.
“Skipper for the day, Jake Gentry, marshalled the defense well,” said head coach Gary Williams, who added that Matt Williams was targeted for special attention by the Fort Collins squad.
Matt Williams, an All-American prep rugby player, drew a foul and kicked the Junior Gents into position deep in the Fort Collins end.
“A lineout catch and powerful drive for 20 yards into the heart of the Fort Collins defense saw (Matt) Williams feed a rampaging Luke Prosence, and the rookie scored a spectacular try to exact revenge for the previous foul,” coach Gary Williams said.
Prosence is one of 10 brand new players in the starting 15 who have only played six games of rugby, including this semifinal, Williams said.
Fort Collins took the lead at 7-5 with a converted try.
Matt Williams answered with a dash for a try.
But the lead for the Junior Gents faded as Fort Collins took a 12-10 lead into halftime.
“We showed excellent discipline under pressure and gradually started to get control of the game by stepping up the pace,” coach Gary Williams said, “moving the bigger opposition around and maintaining our focus.”
He said Olmer Marquez and Felipe Martinez drove into the defense to set up attacks for the Junior Gents. Robert Hiles added the conversions and a penalty goal to propel the Junior Gents into a comeback 24-12 lead with 10 minutes to play.
A key recovery led to another Matt Williams try.
“Gentry continually probed the defense and set up a barnstorming run by Oswaldo Olmedo,” Gary Williams said. The attack led to Matt Williams’ fourth try of the game.
Hiles converted for a final 31-12 margin for the Junior Gents, a division of the Gentlemen of Aspen rugby club.
“The team’s dedication to training and their desire to learn is the reason that they have achieved such astounding success,” said coach Gary Williams, who coached the senior Gentlemen of Aspen to their first national rugby titles in the mid 1990s.
The Junior Gents will train again at 4:30 p.m. today at Willits Rugby Field. Members of the senior Gentlemen of Aspen and the Aspen Old Boys are invited to help the prep players prepare for the state championship match.
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