D1A PLAYOFF PREVIEW: WILDCATS REMATCH WITH WEST CHAMPS

 

#14 Arizona vs #18 Air Force

Saturday April 15

Colorado Springs, CO

1:00 PM

 

 

 

 

Steven Branham and the Arizona Forwards hope to help the Wildcats to a win this weekend.

April 14- Arizona gets their postseason underway on Saturday, traveling to Colorado to take on Air Force in a D1A First Round playoff match. Captain Kyle Rogers leads the side from Flyhalf that will try to defeat the West Conference champions for the second time this season. 

The usual front row trio of Steven Branham, Jake Hedge, and Kurt Vecchio are named to the side, with Vice Captain Sean Coleman joined at Lock by Bronson Teles. In the back row, Zach Heisterkamp, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tyler Hansen round out a group of Forwards that is young but has continued to grow each week. "This is a young but dynamic forwards group" said Head Coach Sean Duffy "Sean has emerged as the leader of this group but even he's still a junior, so the future prospects for this group, both the starters and reserves, is pretty exciting."

 

In the backline, Rogers pairs with his brother Matt in the halfbacks while Luke Thayer pairs with Ben Joseph at center. On the outside, the dynamic duo of Dante Weeks and Ryan Hudson are joined by Jack San Pietro, with the Fullback from New York's play a key aspect of the Wildcats strong second half. "This backline has definitely evolved, and the play of young guys like Matt Rogers and Jack San Pietro has really helped push that forward. With leadership from guys like Kyle, Ben Joseph, and Shane Dempsey, it gives us some great experienced players that will help keep things moving.

 

In the reserves, Zach Biggs, Karl Steffany, and Cody Hunt provide cover in the front row while Sam Peri and Ben Scoular are reserves at Lock and Flanker. In the backs, Garrett Walker, Shane Dempsey, and Kalanie Aholelei give the Wildcats a versatile trio of athletes ready if called upon. "Since Utah, we've had two great opportunities to play matches and for the next tier of players to put their hands up through their play, and every one of these eight has impressed to the point where I have full confidence in them and they are pushing the starters for time. That competition is exactly what we want" said Duffy.

Arizona and Air Force are one of a number of high-profile matches set for this weekend as the playoffs get underway. Last year, the Wildcats defeated LSU 30-10 in the first round before falling to Utah 36-14 in the quarterfinals. A win over Air Force would send the Wildcats to Baylor next week and put them one step closer to a national championship and a national television audience.

 

 

Air Force Lineup (click for bio)

1. Steven Branham

2. Jake Hedge

3. Kurt Vecchio

4. Sean Coleman

5. Bronson Teles

6. Zach Heisterkamp

7. Ryan Fitzpatrick

8. Tyler Hansen

9. Matt Rogers

10. Kyle Rogers (C)

11. Dante Weeks

12. Luke Thayer

13. Ben Joseph

14. Ryan Hudson

15. Jack San Pietro

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16. Zach Biggs

17. Karl Steffany

18. Cody Hunt

19. Sam Peri

20. Ben Scoular

21. Garrett Walker

22. Shane Dempsey

23. Kalanie Aholelei

 

 

 

 

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