The High School All Americans left the field against Cordoba Academy frustrated, because they felt they could, perhaps should, have won.
“We had a lot of possession and territory in the first half, and we were stopped just short several times,” said Head Coach Salty Thompson. “And we’re disappointed. We gave up ten points while we had Malcolm May in the sin bin, and that was tough.”
The big play perhaps was that try they gave up just before the halftime whistle. Fullback Zach Webber booted a long kick into Cordoba territory, but the chase was desultory, and some smooth running and nifty ball-movement set up a long-range try for the hosts.
That was a bit of a momentum-killer, but the Americans did come back. They executed well in the lineout – big 6-10 lock Justin Allen and 6-7 sophomore Sisi Mahoni were a force in the air and hooker Steven Branham was on-song with his throwing. That lineout will continue to be a weapon. So will be prop Titi Lamositele. The powerful front-rower wowed the crowd with his earth-shaking hits and aggressive running. there were other good performances. Vili Helu impressed at No. 8 and Seth Halliman, a flyhalf/flanker put in at outside center, will only get better.
All of this and more were reasons for good feelings about the game.
“They had just started getting to know each other,” said Thompson. “We had five sessions, and to be honest, we didn’t look all that good. They did come together more in the game, and Michael Engelbrecht has done a great job setting up their defense. So we were really encouraged.”
“In our five practices we focused a lot on defense and making sure we got aggressive an launch up as a team,” said inside center Calvin Whiting. “And we worked on folding around the right as well and just getting more work in on different tackle situations.”
In addition, added Lamositele, “we’ve been really focusing on our scrimmaging because the Argentina scrums are very good.”
The scrum did well, although Cordoba got better as the game went on, but in addition, said the Chuckanut prop, “we were able to play off of lineouts, which was something.”
So going into the game they wanted to match Corboda for physicality, and they did, and they wanted to create scoring opportunities off set piece, which they did, and they needed to finish, which, for the most part, they didn’t.
“We competed,” said Whiting. “We had a team that gelled quite well after those five practice sessions. We came up with the loss but we accomplished quite a lot and showed improvement.”
“We can always improve on defense, but now we have more of an idea of what we’re going up against, and more about how they play,” he said. “We will have a lot better shot the next time around.”