UTEP PREVIEW: RIO GRANDE GETS UNDERWAY FOR WILDCATS

 

Arizona Developmental vs UTEP

Saturday, September 10th

Sun Bowl- University of Texas El-Paso

2:00 PM

 

 

Flyhalf John Chang hopes to help the Wildcats off to a good start this weekend in El Paso.

Sept 9- Arizona Rugby will kick off their preseason this weekend, as their Developmental side takes on University of Texas-El Paso in the Sun Bowl on Saturday. The Wildcats have named their side and their coaching staff, with Varsity Backs Coach Patrick Coco taking the helm as Head Coach.

 

Many players from the team's 2016 recruiting class make up this lineup, with a number of walk ons slotting into the team as well. They are led by Hooker Zach Biggs, who will captain the side in the front row. Joining Biggs in the front row are Props Karl Steffany and Reed Hirshman. At Lock, Charlie Harden pairs with Zachary Knobbe-Hewitt while the back row will be comprised of Gabe Coray-Dozier, Christofaro Napoli, and Patrick Evans. "This is an exciting group of Forwards, and they've really started to gel together in the last week" said Head Coach Sean Duffy "Harden is one to keep an eye one with his athleticism and pace, and Biggs will do a great job in the front row and as captain having done that for a national powerhouse in Penn HS the past year."

 

In the backline, Scrumhalf Calvin Brannon pairs with John Chang in the halfbacks while hard running centers  Marek Easton and Lucas Bartzis make up the centers. Easton and Bartzis, both walk ons to the team this year, have made their mark early. "When they get here, recruited or not, we give them a fair look and Marek and Lucas have been absolutely lights out in a group of talented centers the past month" said Duffy. On the outside, Nathan Chen and Mikey Joseph are the Wings while Nick Fadelli slots in at Fullback. Fadelli, who last year played Defensive Back for Arizona Football, brings great athleticism to the backline along with experience, having played his Rugby for Lamorinda RFC in Northern California in high school.

 

A number of quality players make up the bench, with Hooker/Prop Chris McBride and Prop Sanjar Gybyrov providing depth in the front row. Lock/Number Eight Jake Griffiths covers the back row. Scrumhalf Thomas Villalobos and Flyhalf Kristian Sanchez line up in the reserves ready to go, while Brandon Strong and Jack Mortensen are ready in the centers. On the outside, Max Lyle and Alec Packer are ready if called upon.

 

Head Coach Sean Duffy was excited for the weekend, and pointed to the unique opportunity afforded by the Rio Grande Rugby Union. "This is going to be a great experience win or lose for these players and coaches, as it allows the players to get quality minutes against a quality opponent, and it allows our coaching staff to take the wheel and put their own creative spin on things, which I know they will enjoy. Games are invaluable when it comes to player development so we're making a concerted effort to secure more of them and this is the next but not final step in that." said Duffy. Arizona is the newest addition to the Division II league, and will take on teams across Texas and New Mexico in both Fall and Spring with their Developmental side. While they will not puruse the Division II Nationals berth should they qualify, they will compete in the conference playing both home and away matches. 

 

For scoring updates, follow the Wildcats on Twitter as the game will be live tweeted on @azwildcatrugby. 

 

 

 

UTEP Lineup

1. Karl Steffany

2. Zach Biggs (C)

3. Reed Hirshman

4. Charlie Harden

5. Zachary Knobbe-Hewitt

6. Gabe Coray-Dozier

7. Christofaro Napoli

8. Patrick Evans

9. Calvin Brannon

10. John Chang

11. Nathan Chen

12. Marek Easton

13. Lucas Bartzis

14. Mikey Joseph

15. Nick Fadelli

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16. Chris McBride

17. Sanjar Gybyrov

18. Jake Griffiths

19. Kristian Sanchez

20. Thomas Villalobos

21. Brandon Strong

22. Jack Mortensen

23. Max Lyle

24. Alec Packer

 

 

 

 

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