Brussard and Meister Look To Pick Up Where They Left Off Last Year
At some point when an All-Time St. Bonaventure team is named, recent graduates Nick Maurer, Nick Sylor, Ben Atkinson and Chris Schott will be up for selection, but going into Fall 2012 they will need to be replaced if the Bonnies expect to repeat their 15-2 campaign of 2011-12. Coupled with the loss of long-time contributors Sam Giordano, Mike George and Taye Daniel, a lot of fresh faces will pull on the Brown and White in Empire Conference play. Much like last season, a small-but-experienced group of seniors will be expected to lead an explosive group of underclassmen.
Coming off an All-Empire Rugby Conference season at loose head prop, senior Alex Brussard
will take over Maurer’s role as Bonnies captain. The former Boston College High School, New England U19 and USA U17 skipper previously captained St. Bonaventure in wins over Binghamton and Bowling Green.
Brussard will be supported by rising sophomore Evan Meister
at openside flanker. The Orchard Park product was the only freshman named to the All-Empire Rugby Conference team, and was previously MVP of Orchard Park, the NYS U17 and NYS U19 sides. This will be Meister’s first full season in the forward pack, after primarily playing center in Fall 2011.
Seniors Jon Garbin
, the 2010-11 team MVP, and Tim Hanna
bring physicality and toughness to the pack. High school rivals at Kenmore West and McQuaid Jesuit respectively, Garbin and Hanna now pair to keep the St. Bonaventure attack and defense on the right side of the gain line. Front row Steve Kuzara
, also from Kenmore West, will looking to finish his career on a high note.
Joining Brussard is a prop-hooker pairing that has played together for five years now. Juniors Justin Walker
and Tom Tyler
, who helped lead Canandaigua Academy to the 2010 New York Class B title, continued their partnership on the SBU second side in 2010-11, and started several matches together in 2011-12. They are now expected to rise to a more consistent level as upperclassmen.
Pushing for immediate front row playing time will be a sophomore and a freshmen. Sophomore A.J. Vitanza
is a brute from Binghamton, and probably the strongest player on the team. Zach Haller
is a freshmen out of McQuaid Jesuit, and a two-time New York State age-grade All-Star. The 210-pounder was named Forward MVP in helping lead McQuaid to the New York Championship as a senior. Hooker Brian Theiss
out of Harvey School – coached by Phil Lazzaro `94 – brings valuable experience to the team and will look to push for an A side roster spot as the season progresses.
While the front row is an unquestioned strength, the second row could be vulnerable if injuries mount up. Starting next to Hanna will be junior Tallon Moritz
. A junior national runner-up in kick boxing, The Big Chief brings competitiveness and toughness to the Bonnies’ pack. Some consider Moritz on track for a breakout season. Behind Hanna and Moritz there is some potential but not much experience to rely upon. Tim Callahan
out of McQuaid Jesuit is in his third year with the team, and the junior earned an A side roster spot coming out of camp after finding a higher fitness level this summer.
Freshman Tom McCarthy
captained Canisius High School to the Buffalo Class B championship and the team’s first playoff berth as a senior. A lanky 6-3 frame could make McCarthy a valuable addition to the lineout in the future. Nick Lacolla
, a freshman out of Long Island, is the son of SBU rugger Steve Lacolla ’84. Nick has a MMA background and will hopefully mimic Moritz’s ascent as a player with martial arts experience. The starting loose forwards could be called upon to provide A-side cover until a fourth option emerges. Greg Johnson
helps complete the loose trio with Garbin and Meister. The 6-5 sophomore hailing from Fairport is a force in lineouts as well as open play. Johnson saw limited time as a freshman behind stars Maurer and Schott, but a move to 8-man should allow Johnson to emerge. Johnson’s interception and run against Bowling Green last spring – leading to a Daniel try – changed the momentum in one of the Bonnies most historic wins. Fellow sophomore Hayden Bell
is currently the top backup at flanker. However, Walker and Moritz can provide cover at the position until more young players emerge. Two of those young players could be Patrick Hargrove
out of St. Anthony’s and Elliott Figueroa, a 185 pound wrestler from Downstate NY.
The backline is a young unit that will essentially remain unchanged for the next four semesters. The group is led by senior Kevin McCorry
at scrum half. The McQuaid Jesuit graduate led the Bonnies with 88 points last season and earned selection as the backup fly half on the All-Empire Rugby Conference team. Also the club president, McCorry will return to his natural scrum half position to make room for freshman and fellow McQuaid alum Charles Meagher
. The freshman playmaker led his alma mater to a 6th place finish at the national tournament as a junior and a state championship as a senior, never losing a league match as a starter.
Competing with Meagher at fly half is “Big” Shea Raff
, a product of Orchard Park Rugby. Raff, who slotted all six of his kicks at goal as a freshman, stepped up on the big stage in the ERC finals against Stony Brook. Raff could also see time at center and will contribute to the A side whether as a starter or reserve. Backing up McCorry will be speedster Brendan Allman
. Another Orchard Park product, Allman’s rugby experience is limited to Sevens but he has vast experience on the soccer pitch as well as running the 100, 200 and 400 meter races in track. The freshman flyer is the fastest player on the team. Adrian Urbaez
, a junior out of New York City is a developing player at scrum half and is making strides in the second half of his career.
The center position has been one causing the coaching staff great angst since the graduation of Greg George, Charlie Specht and Conor Walsh with the class of 2010. Taye Daniel covered the position ably last season scoring five tries, but wasn’t a natural center and never had a consistent midfield partner. All of that could change in 2012. Stepping into the #12 jersey will be John Sullivan
, a 6-1 210 pound bruiser from Orchard Park. The sophomore was a three-time NYS age-grade All-Star as a forward in high school and scored six tries in the #8 jersey as a freshman. However, with sprinter’s speed and the ability to slide through gaps, Sullivan seems primed to flourish in his new position.
The outside center position is less settled, but there are multiple quality options. Third-year starter Ryan Brennan
, a Hamburg-product, spent his first two seasons as a fullback but with size, power and good timing on the 2-on-1 pass, Brennan could be the man that finally opens up the SBU attack outside. The 190 pound junior scored five tries last season, good for fourth on the team. Also competing for the position is Justice Koonce
, a transfer-sophomore from Harvey School by way of University of Massachusetts. The big back has soft hands and a smooth pass, but also knows how to lower his shoulder in contact. If Koonce solidifies the position, Brennan could move out to left wing, the former position of 2012 All-Empire selection Nick Sylor.
Along with Raff, the primary depth in the centers will be provided by Joseph Parker
out of New York City. A junior, the 6-0 200 pound Parker earned his first start in the spring and also saw considerable time in the playoffs. Known as “Underwater” for his smooth running style, the former boxer will look to pack a defensive punch when the opportunity arises. Josh Pfau
, a junior out of Mt. St. Joseph in Baltimore, can cover both center spots as well as wing.
With the loss of Sylor and Brennan’s possible move to center, the deep three will be a new-look unit in 2012. Kevin Corley
, a player with more than a dozen starts under his belt as a junior, has seen time at center, wing and scrum half. If he is not starting on the outside, Corley will surely provide cover at numerous positions again this season. Returning along with Corley is Andrew “Tex” Metoyer
, the long-striding junior out of Dallas. Emerging onto the scene during the team’s 2012 Mid-Atlantic Tour, Tex scored three tries in 80 minutes of play – one against West Virginia and two long-range touch downs against Shippensburg. Adding 10-pounds of muscle to his 6-4 frame this summer, Metoyer has the athleticism to be a finishing threat for the Bonnies.
A pair of freshmen will also look to contribute right away at the outside back unit. Pat Hogan
– like Allman – only has Sevens Rugby experience, but is no stranger to championship competition. The son of SBU rugger Bill Hogan `82, Pat co-captained Orchard Park to the state championship in football (WR) as well as the Section VI championship in lacrosse (Defense). Hogan’s tackling ability and vision make him a rare inexperienced freshmen vying for starting time. Newcomer Dan Dillon
, a Canisius High School grad, looks to have secured the #15 jersey at the close of training camp. A two-time NYS age-grade All-Star out of the Southside Rugby program, Dillon brings quickness, ball skills and finishing pace to the team.
Along with Tim Callahan and Hayden Bell, Gunnar Brooks
showed as much improvement as anyone during camp. The lightweight wrestler out of Chittenango, NY will look to gain experience during sophomore campaign so he can play a larger role in the future. Junior Anthony Shoff
is also working himself into the Developmental side rotation and brings size to the outside. They are joined by a handful of freshmen who can all run with the ball.
St. Bonaventure rugby legacy Jordan Farrant
follows his cousins Greg `10 and Mike George `12 to the Banks of the Allegheny River. Farrant is already pushing for a starting spot on the Developmental side, and his speed will be difficult to keep off the A side. Colin Burke
, a Syracuse Silverbacks product, is also working himself into the fullback rotation. New Jersey-native Ryan Frick
(back) and Rochester-native Paul Schulick
(forward) are the most recent additions to the team.