High-school Rugby: Dexter Devils Victorious in Flint, now Face Local Rivals Brighton and then Troy

Centre Derek Wittenberg Moves the Ball against Genesee Elite
Orlowski  Tackles
Flanker Nathaniel Orlowski Slows down a Genesee Prop
Prop Nick Hubbard Carries the ball away from a Ruck
Prop Nick Hubbard Carries the ball away from a Ruck

Dexter Rugby Football Club’s high-school team, the Dexter Devils went to Flint last Wednesday and secured a hard-won victory over a strong Genesee Elite side with a combination of determined defense and great individual plays.  Captain Jake Rayer contributed three fine penalty goals, half-back Tristin Staebler intercepted a Genesee pass and ran two thirds of the length of the pitch to score a superb try, and the entire team defended resolutely to secure a hard-fought 14-12 victory.  A full match report can be found here.

Winger Torin Bates and Centre Derek Wittenberg Strong in the Tackle
Winger Torin Bates and Centre Derek Wittenberg Strong in the Tackle

 

On Tuesday, 5 May, at Scranton Middle School, the Devils will face Brighton in their annual local derby (6 p.m. kick-off — NOTE TIME CHANGE).  While the Devils have dominated the Bulldogs in recent years, no high-school Rugby fan in Brighton is likely to forget that the Dogs are the only side from Michigan Youth Rugby Association’s eastern half to have won the state championship since MYRA was formed in 1997.  The Bulldogs were champions in 2002, when Devils coach Doug Karaska (as of last Tuesday, happy but, no doubt, exhausted father to twins) was one of the locks, and again in 2006.  The Devils came close to breaking the subsequent western stranglehold on the state title in 2013 and 2014, but finished as runners-up both years.  Brighton, currently playing in Division II, will be certain to provide a warm welcome to their neighbors, and a tough match is expected.

Wednesday’s divisional victory in Flint means that the Devils now have nine points in MYRA Division I East, level with Dearborn, whom they beat in their first league match of the season.  While the Devils were winning a tough match in Flint, the Dearborn Silverbacks were overcoming Birmingham (who beat Dexter by two points in the Devils’ second league match) 21-7.  Like Dexter, the Silverbacks have just one league match left, away to Genesee, who themselves, with one win and one loss, have two to play – against Dearborn and Birmingham. Birmingham also have two fixtures left – in addition to Genesee, they must play Dearborn.  In other words, the Divisional Title is still very much up for grabs, with no team unbeaten.  In the West, Rockford, with three wins, and Grandville, with two wins and a draw, look the top teams, and their match on 13 May looks likely to decide the western title.

Thus Dexter’s final regular-season match, at home to Troy United, on Wednesday, 13 May at Manly Bennett Field, Merrill Rd, Hamburg, kick-off at 6 p.m., is of huge importance, if the Devils are to secure a good playoff berth.  The Devils, who have scored only one try on offense in three league matches, will be under especial pressure, with points and tries scored likely to determine the outcome of the eastern championship.  Meanwhile the Troy side, already defeated by both Genesee and Dearborn, will be hoping to come to Manly Bennett with a victory over Birmingham on 6 May behind them, to give themselves a good chance of a place in the playoffs they are hosting at Larson Middle School on Saturday, 16 May.  United will certainly not have forgotten that last year they became the first away side to win at Manly Bennett in three years, thereby sealing top spot in the East.  Meanwhile, the Devils will remember that, 19-0 down at home to newly-promoted Troy, they had come back to make it 24-24 only for handling errors to give the ball away inside the home 22-metre line and for poor tackling to let Troy in for a late, match-winning try.  The re-match is eagerly awaited.

Dexter’s squad list, with further details of the Dexter Rugby program, may be accessed here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/lsw6yjvxtvhit0h/DRFC%20Team%20Sheet%202015.pdf?dl=0.  For further information on Dexter Rugby, go to the Facebook page for “Dexter Rugby” or to the club web site: www.dexterrugby.com.  Follow DRFC on Twitter @DexterRugby.  Photo credits: Gina Bryson.

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