Defense and second-half shutouts helped St. Joe to the single-school title. /// Photo: Andrea Rolf
THE high school events occurred last weekend: single-school and club national championships. While the 15s season won’t end until mid-June, the results that came out of St. Charles, Mo., and Ellensburg, Wash., will account for the biggest moves in the high school ranking.
When sorting out the Top 25, complete performances – not, solely, individual results – were considered. Multi-game weekends create a fuller picture of the depth, strength and fortitude of a team, especially when facing some of the best competition in the country. There are some caveats, of course – for example, club nationals contested everywhere from 15-minute play-in games to 70-minute matches, and teams played between 3-5 games – and they’re all taken in stride.
Sacramento dethroned five-time reigning national champion Fallbrook with a 24-15 victory in the club final. This victory was “bittersweet,” according to coach David Tausinga, because there were graduating seniors playing who had helped the Amazons to their first national championship back in 2010 (remember that middle schoolers could receive waivers for high school nationals). Fallbrook was missing All American (and soon to be 7s Eagle) Lilly Durbin, but the Amazons put in a complete performance that one player couldn’t overturn.
Aside from Sacramento’s achievement, nationals debutante United impressed in its third-place finish. The Utah champion gave Fallbrook its second-toughest game of the year, going up 5-0 in the teams’ semifinal before falling 17-5.
The club portion of the rankings gets tricky from that point out. Pleasanton finished fourth, but Danville had an overall better showing – dropping a three-point game to United in the opener and then finishing out the tournament with three wins. And South Bay, their results were just a little bit better than Pleasanton, and the Spartans rallied to within two points of Danville during the last game of the weekend.
The big drop was host Kent. The Cavaliers exacted revenge from last year’s quarterfinal and beat the Crusaders 13-10 in the opening round. Kent rebounded with a 24-12 win against Morris, but then dropped games to South Bay and Danville. In the Morris rematch in the 7th place game, it was the New Jersey team that rallied for a 19-17 victory.
The single-school side contested a traditional eight-team DI, and so it was less complicated to evaluate a team’s body of work. St. Joseph Academy didn’t enter the tournament as favorite, making its title run even more spectacular. The Ohio side had to overcome three tough opponents, rallying from deficits and producing second-half shutouts.
If Kahuku played quarterfinal opponent St. Joe in a one-off game, then perhaps the Hawaii state champion would have ranked higher after its 17-15 loss. But the nationals newcomer flagged a bit in its semifinal against Warsaw. The teams ended regulation tied before Kahuku won on kicks (just like its state semifinal). Kahuku then finished fifth after defeating Pennsylvania state champion State College 28-10.
The big triumph came in the form of a 19-17 semifinal win over Divine Savior Holy Angels. The Midwest champion has always been the highest-finishing single-school when nationals was combined, and the Dashers had recently beat St. Joe’s in the Midwest championship. The Wisconsin side took a 17-7 lead at half before the Ohio team rallied for the win. St. Joe’s had to rally again in the final, but a yellow card against Summit provided the space for two tries and 29-14 win (article on Summit forthcoming).
Finally, we swapped out Penn for Warsaw. Penn won the DII single-school competition, defeating Kansas City, Sebastian River and Hudson. The Indiana leader put in a solid performance, but Warsaw takes the ranking spot for challenging itself in DI. The team lost to DSHA 24-5 in the quarterfinals, tied Kahuku through regulation before losing on kicks in overtime, and then finished 7th in defeating Tennessee champion McMinn.
Teams that competed at either single-school or club nationals get the nod. It’s a tremendous effort to attend these events and to take on like-minded teams from around the country. No disrespect to those teams that culminate at the state championship, but nationals is the next level of competition – not to mention, a valuable opportunity to compare regions’ relative strength.
West End, which has competed at nationals when it’s been on the East Coast, won the Virginia state championship against each other and also contributed to Morris’ fundraising campaign to nationals. In Oregon, Valley Panthers won the varsity title (article forthcoming) and Grant overcame the Lady Barbarians in the club. The Cup Championship between Valley Panthers and Grant is still pending. West Carroll blanked North Bay 43-0 in the Maryland state championship.
Play Rugby dropped a few spots – not because of a result but due to inactivity. The Academy side has been idle since its game against Union and won’t play a game before its state semifinal in two weekends. During this action-packed part of the season, there’s little room on the rankings to idle. Morris might have found itself in the same position, as all of its in-state opponents forewent the opportunity to play in the final, and thus Morris was named champ by default. Fortunately for Morris, the New Jersey team has sought out competition, most recently, club nationals.
Defending New York state champion Orchard Park, on the other hand, won its fifth match and got an honest look at its progress after a 41-15 win over City Honors, the team’s closest rival competition wise. Its division, Western New York, will receive two of four seeds to state semifinals, along with Metropolitan’s Play Rugby and a Capital rep.
The Minnesota quarterfinals begin tomorrow (May 25), but leaders Hopkins and North Suburban get the bye until the semifinals on June 4.
GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL RANKING – MAY 24, 2016
New Rank (Old Rank) Team / State (League Record). Results.
1 (2) Sacramento / CA (9-0). QF: 24-7 W South Bay, SF: 34-12 W Pleasanton, 1st: 24-15 W Fallbrook
2 (1) Fallbrook / CA (7-1). QF: 41-0 W Capital, SF: 17-5 W United, 1st: 24-15 L Sacramento
3 (4) United / UT (9-1). QF: 15-12 W Danville, SF: 17-5 L Fallbrook, 3rd: 29-10 W Pleasanton
4 (10) St. Joseph / OH (9-1). QF: 17-15 W Kahuku, SF: 19-17 W DSHA, 1st: 29-14 W Summit
5 (5) Danville / CA (7-2). QF: 15-12 L United, 19-0 W Capital, 24-7 W Kent, 5th: 22-20 W South Bay
6 (11) Summit / CO (9-1). QF: 26-14 W State College, SF: 17-0 W Catholic Memorial, 1st: 29-14 L St. Joseph
7 (7) South Bay / CA (4-4). 10-7 W Morris, QF: 24-7 L Sacramento, 12-5 W Kent, 5th: 22-20 L Danville
8 (6) DSHA / WI (11-2). QF: 24-5 W Warsaw, SF: 19-17 L St. Joe, 3rd: 25-0 W Catholic Memorial
9 (9) Pleasanton / CA (4-5). QF: 13-10 W Kent, SF: 34-12 L Sacramento, 3rd: 29-10 L United
10 (12) Kahuku / HI (11-1). QF: 17-15 L St. Joseph, SF: W Warsaw (OT kicks), 5th: 28-10 W State College
11 (14) Morris / NJ (4-4). 10-7 L South Bay, 24-12 L Kent, 26-7 W Land Park, 15-12 L South Bay, 7th: 19-17 W Kent
12 (3) Kent / WA (7-4-1). QF: 13-10 L Pleasanton, 24-12 W Morris, 12-5 L South Bay, 4-1 OT kicks W Capital, 24-7 L Danville, 7th: 19-17 L Morris
13 (13) West End / VA (6-0). West End defeated West End 44-41 in state final
14 (18) Grant / OR (8-1). Defeated Lady Barbarians 41-30 in Oregon club final
15 (22) Valley Panthers / OR (8-0). Defeated Reynolds 37-10 in Oregon varsity final
16 (8) Catholic Memorial / WI (10-3). QF: 22-7 W McMinn, SF: 17-0 L Summit, 3rd: 25-0 L DSHA
17 (17) West Carroll / MD (5-0). Defeated North Bay 43-0 for Maryland state title
18 (15) Lady Barbarians / OR (7-2). Lost 41-30 to Grant in Oregon club final
19 (16) Play Rugby / NY (5-0). Idle
20 (21) State College / PA (8-2). QF: 26-14 L Summit, SF: 34-10 W McMinn, 5th: 28-10 L Kahuku
21 (20) Hopkins / MN (5-0). Defeated Minnetonka 49-0
22 (24) Orchard Park / NY (5-0). Defeated City Honors 41-15
23 (23) North Suburban / MN (4-1). Defeated Eagan/South River 124-0
24 (19). Herriman / UT (4-1). Idle
25 (unr) Warsaw / IN (6-5). Finished 4th in Midwest, 7th in single-school nationals