It had the implications of a championship game. When the San Diego Old Aztecs took on the defending champion Tampa Krewe for a spot in the championship game, neither one gave an inch. And in the end, it was a late try by winger Charles Kasper that sealed the deal for the Tampa Krewe, 34-25.
And despite the victory, Tampa didn’t play up to their full potential. “That was probably the worst game we’ve played this season,” Krewe captain Tyler Cathey said. “One of the main reasons we got the victory today was our depth and the tremendous focus they have when they come in the game.”
It was a game that seemed to have more swings than a city park. San Diego scored near intermission to gain slight momentum going into the half. However, in the second half, Tampa seemed to start gained momentum with back-to-back tries, but San Diego just never seemed to want to go away without a fight. With Tampa Bay up 29-15 and time waning, San Diego scored consecutive unconverted tries to pull within four.
“When we scored to go up by 14, that’s usually when we put teams away,” Krewe coach Dai Morgan said. “Give a lot of credit to the Aztecs for never giving up; they gave us a dog fight.”
For Tampa, it’s going to be about correcting mistakes and playing a more polished game tomorrow in the final. And for some players, it will be about proving themselves to not only their head coach, but also their team. “We have a few guys who didn’t play well at all today, and they were the first ones to admit that,” Morgan said.
Tampa will take on New Orleans, which is a team that glided into the finals with a big win over Fresno. New Orleans and Tampa met in the South final earlier this spring, with Tampa winning 38-17. As territorial rivals, bragging rights are on the table, right next to the National Title trophy. “We want to play them and they want to play us,” Cathey said. “We have history with them and they want nothing more than to beat our best.”