The San Diego Old Aztecs are the only team returning to Glendale, Colo. from last year’s DII semifinals, and this time they know they belong.
“For us, to be honest, it’s unrealistic to say that we wanted to win the whole thing, but we felt last year after playing the Krewe that we deserved to be at that level,” said Old Aztec prop Sean Lindersmith.
“And all of us put our best foot forward, from the coach on down to our last supporter, that we wanted to earn the right to be in this game again and be in this position. And we’re just excited and fortunate to have this opportunity to be back and we’re excited to have a great weekend and leave it out all on the field.
“Some guys go their whole career without an opportunity to play at this level, and most of us have had two shots now and we really don’t want to walk away without putting in every effort to win a National Championship.”
The past three weeks the Old Aztecs have focused on fitness and refining their set pieces. They’ve added a chiropractor this year, and they’ve taken preventative measures to avoid injuries. Just two wins stand between them and the club’s first-ever National Title.
For a team that resides in the same metropolitan area as Old Mission Beach Athletic Club, which holds more USA Rugby titles than any other club, the Old Aztecs seem really secure without a championship, but, says Lindersmith, winning one sure wouldn’t hurt.
“I played for OMBAC for seven years, and they do have a lot and they have a storied history. It’s a competitive rivalry in town, but we don’t think of it in terms that we need to win a National Championship,” said Lindersmith.
“We feel we’re a great club and we do a lot of things well and we match up well against them. So if we get one this year it’ll just be another feather in our hat that we’re just as good a club as they are and we’re doing good things and moving up.”
Regardless of this weekend’s results, the Old Aztecs are moving to DI next season. For a team that’s gone an astounding 32 consecutive DII league games without a loss, dating back to 2009, winning a National Championship would be a nice way to finish their time in DII.
“A few guys, we have talked about it. Some of the older veteran players have said this is kind of a stepping stone up into the next level of DI,” said Lindersmith. “So to win a National Championship to cap off the run that we’ve had at this level would be amazing.”