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FH Rugby: State Champs!

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Winston Churchill  on said “this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in”

This quote applies to the season and to Division II Finals.  Forest Hills prevailed over Deaborn 4-2 in penalty kicks after 19-19 tie in regulation and scoreless overtime.  Forest Hills never lead until the penalty kick phase.  If you speak with any of the Forest Hills parents who attended the game, you will hear it was a great game.  Momentum ebbed and flowed from team to team.  The sports cliche “it is a shame somebody had to lose” applies.  Both teams were 8-0,  going 6-0 in divisional play and winning quarterfinale and semifinal games.

Dearborn scored first at the 15 minute mark and made the conversion.  In rugby, the try (touchdown) is worth 5 and conversion kick is 2.   The conversion kick is made from where you touch the ball down in the end zone (hence, touchdown in American football).  So where you score is important.  Travis Sawyer (FHC) muscled over from about 2 yards out at 23 minute mark.  Chris Kemp (FHC) missed the conversion to make it 7-5 score at the half.  We play a 30 minute rolling clock with time added for injuries.  Four minutes into the 2nd half (34), Dearborn scored in the left corner and missed the kick making it 12-5 Dearborn lead.  Four minutes later (38), Mitch Larsen (FHN) slashed into the end zone from about 15 yards out and scored under the posts.  Chris Kemp  made the kick and we were tied 12-12.  At the 42 mintue mark, Dearborn scored again and made a difficult kick from the left side giving them a 19-12 lead.  With the clock running down,  Forest Hills drove the ball near the Dearborn goal line.  Finally, Danny Specker (FHE) was able to power over after repeated Forest Hills efforts to score.  Chris Kemp’s kick make it 19-19 at 56 minutes.  Neither team could get momentum and the game ended regulation at 19-19.

Rugby overtime starts out like college football, each team gets a possesion from the 22m (25 yard line).  Forest Hills went first.  We were able to move the ball forward and Dearborn was penalized.  That gave us the opportunity to go for a penalty kick (a field goal).  However, that would have been our overtime possession.  The boys opted to go for a try.  Dearborn held and we fumbled the ball over to Dearborn.

Dearborn took their turn.  Their captain had to be 6’3″ and 300.  They tried using him as a battering ram.  Determined swarm tackling stopped him and other Dearborn attacks.  They got within 5 yards of the goal, but turned the ball over on a fumble.  So still tied at 19-19.

We now go to a 5 person penalty kickoff.  Each team alternating kicks from the 22 meter line.  Each team picks 5 kickers with each kicker getting one kick.  The kicks are unopposed like a free throw.  But lots of pressure,  just you and the posts 25 yards away with your teammates and crowd watching you.  Chris Kemp went first and put the kick through.  Dearborn made theirs, so 1-1.  Next up was Chad Cleypool (FHE – he lost his mother to cancer halfway through the season, so rugby has been a real positive for him).  The kick was online, but low.  The Dearborn kicker missed his kick – 1-1 after two rounds.  Mason Butts (FHC) goes next.  Mason drop kicks, a lost art in American football, but still around in rugby.  He is automatic, after a few test bounces, he puts it right through the posts.  The Dearborn kicker does the same,  2-2 after three rounds.  Next up is Evan Berkas (FHC).  Evan opts to use a tee for a place kick. Evan was the kicker for FHC football this year.  He hits it dead center.   Dearborn misses, 3-2 after four rounds.  Next up is Drew Barron-Kraus (FHE).  Drew opts to dropkick his attempt.  After a test bounce,  he drills it.  It was dead center and would have been good another 10 yards out.  We win it in a penalty shoot out 4-2.

A great team effort, a try scored from a player from each school.  A team with amazing heart, we won games by 2, 3, 5 and in overtime over the season.  It made for a very memorable Memorial weekend

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