The Napa Stormers closed out the regular season at home last week, with both the Varsity and JV teams winning comfortably in the end.
The Varsity team overcame a spirited Marin Highlanders team 42 - 0 while the JV team won 61 – 7. Both teams have now earned their spots into the upcoming Northern California Youth Rugby Association playoffs.
Ahead of the game the Stormers were aware that they had already made the playoffs, but there was little complacency as the forward pack was pumped from early on in the game wanting to finish the league season on a high. The week leading up to the game was focused on sending the graduating seniors out with a win.
To that end, it was outside center, Mitch Spinelli who opened the scoring with his speed and power, supporting a line break by fly-half Chad Frasier less than two minutes into the game. And so the tone was set for the day as shortly after prop Cody Smith made an immediate impact off the bench scoring the Stormers second try.
The up front grind by the engine room of the Stormers team was relentless and ultimately the Stormers control wore down the Marin defense and the back line contributed handsomely with four more tries on the day.
The first of these came as “fullback” Luke Kampton exploited a lapse in the Marin defense to score with his deceptive speed and dive for the try line.
The Stormers went into half time with a 21-0 score line, and it was during the break that coaches Jack Emerson and Trevor Terrill appealed to the boys to stay focused.
Setting the tone for the second half #2 Nolan Kelnhofer and lock Mason Banducci began dominating in the lineouts while flankers Pierce Young and Darrin Head were tireless in their foraging for the ball.
This relentless effort built a consistent platform possession and fed Frasier who scored again. It capped a great performance by Frasier who had made changes to his weekend plans to line out for the Stormers.
With 10 minutes remaining in the game Zach Gassner on the wing used his quick feet to swerve, and fend off the Marin backs in scoring his try on the day. Determined to make the most of his last appearance Spinelli was not going to be stopped from scoring his second try on the day as the game clock ran down to 70 minutes. Lock, and Varsity place-kicker Jared Reich put on a kicking clinic as he converted every try on the day contributing 12 of the Stormers 42 points.
The traditional St Helena Optometry Men of the Match for Varsity were Trevor Pappas, and Chad Fraiser for their excellent performances and great team spirit.
Along with Frasier, Spinelli, Head and Kampton the following seniors were recognized and applauded after the game for their contributions to the Napa Stormers Varsity team this 2014 season – Antonio Gallegos, Alex Damien Guzman, Patrick Hough, Trevor Pappas, Saul Romero, Anthony Pilotti, James Prager, Cody Dusky, Sam Taylor and Peter Boe.
“We asked the forwards to execute their set plays and to communicate in sticking with the basics,” said coach Terrill. “And they did just that. The result was a great way to end of the regular league schedule and we now head off to the playoff with a great season behind us.”
The JV team followed in the footsteps of the Varsity team with a convincing win again built on the back of some grinding work up front by the forward pack. From the kick off the tone was set by the Stormers with an early try for Isaac Moody and a kicked penalty from Caen Healy.
The JV team in their first season were undefeated going into this game and were determined to finish out the league schedule 6 – 0. The first half settled down as Napa took control up front and spread the ball wide regularly as they shared the workload on a warn energy sapping day.
After Napa’s second try scored by Jesus Fragoza fly half Theo Branum was caught in possession by the Marin defense who stole the ball for a try that they converted against the run of play. This was to be a wake up call for the Stormers with Branum himself making amends for this with a try scored just before the stroke of half time. The Stormers went to the break 25 – 7 ahead.
The second half started with a bang for Napa as Fragoza caught the ball from the Marin kickoff and ran half the length of the pitch evading all tackles to score an impressive try. A string of tries during the half for Evan Cook, Derrick Uhl-Parsons, Rangel Fowler and two for Felipe “Chewy” Leon made the team total for the day an impressive 10 tries. Lots of hard work of front was converted in scores to complete a rewarding day for the whole squad.
“We take a great unbeaten record into the playoffs” said coach Barend Venter “where we know tougher games against more seasoned opponents await us. It’s great that this team has won the league in their first season and they can all be mighty proud of themselves. The expansion of the club to two squads wouldn’t have been possible without our sponsors who have been incredibly generous in their support this season."
The Napa Valley Stormers Club wishes to acknowledge the assistance of the following sponsors:
Napa Sheriff’s Activities League, Ghilotti Bros. Inc., St. Helena Optometry, Blue Sky Utility, Pilates Napa Valley, Napa Barrel Care, and Silverado Farming Company.
About the Napa Stormers Rugby Club
The Napa Stormers Rugby Club founded in 2012 is the first youth rugby club in the Napa Valley. With members from multiple High Schools in the Napa Valley the Napa Stormers is committed to coaching its youth membership in skills that will assist them both on and off the field of play.