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|From The Morning Call
-- May 20, 2004|
Allentown Area Blues capture rugby title
Of The Morning Call
He loves to talk about the sport's values and benefits and is always promoting an upcoming event.
The Blues seem determined to put rugby on the local sports map and earned some recognition for themselves and the sport on May 9 by winning the Eastern Pennsylvania Rugby Union Division II championship.
In just their second year of existence, the Blues beat Lansdale Catholic 12-8 in the semifinals and Media United 3-0 in the title game.
''It was a bit of a surprise to win the division, but the kids have worked hard all season,'' Benedict, the team's coach and president, said.
''It has been fantastic. All of the parents are very enthusiastic about rugby and have seen the value. Not only do we 30-plus athletes who have taken on the challenge, but 60 parents have come aboard as well and have seen the value of rugby.''
The team features a large number of Parkland High students. Other players are from Southern Lehigh, Central Catholic, Liberty, Easton, Allen and Dieruff.
The Blues were 5-2-1 and reached the division semis last year. This year, they went 9-2.
''We were much-improved,'' Benedict said. ''We had 17 kids during games and at least 32 at our practices. We had a lot of returnees and played with a lot of continuity. The players developed camaraderie on and off the field.''
The Blues bonded through a long day on May 9 in Lansdale, the day the league semis and finals were held.
''We played in the morning and then had to wait 51/2 hours to play again,'' Benedict said. ''It was a long day, but the kids were good about it.''
Captain Jared Benedict, the coach's son, scored two tries in the win over Lansdale Catholic. The only points in the victory over Media came off a kick by Dave Dotterer.
''That was a real good defensive game,'' Benedict said. ''Our kids really showed that they can tackle.''
American football is a derivative of rugby and Benedict strives not to conflict with American's No. 1 passion.
''We go in the spring so it doesn't interfere with football season,'' Benedict said. ''Football coaches should like it because it gets the linemen in fantastic shape.
''Some high school coaches say playing rugby won't get kids anywhere, but I beg to differ. I have been working with guidance counselors at each of the high schools and assist kids with getting into college. Six kids from last year's team played college rugby.''
Another opportunity for the sport to gain area exposure will come at Allentown's SportsFest July 8-11 when the Can-Am Rugby Development Camp is held.
Dr. Greg Jones of Kutztown University and Mike Flanagan of the Naval Academy will be guest coaches. Stu Robinson, youth development officer from Eastern Ontario, will bring 40-plus players from Canada.
''We're very hopeful that the U.S. Under-19 coaches Salty Thompson and Don Ferrell will stop by to evaluate players,'' Benedict said.
For more information on the Allentown Area Blues club, go to the team's web site at www.gotthardt.net/blues
RUNNING TO GLORY
Albright freshman Joshua Hunter (Palmerton) received the Most Outstanding Runner award for the men's cross country team at the school's athletics banquet last week. Hunter was the first Albright runner across the line in seven of 10 races. He won the Alvernia/Albright Invitational in October and led Albright at both the MAC championship meet and the NCAA Regionals.
SOME GOOD SIGNS
Easton High baseball player Anthony Ventola, a catcher, signed a letter of intent earlier this week to accept a scholarship to continue his career at Division I Fairleigh Dickinson.
Former Salisbury football coach Frank Lane announced that five of his former Falcons will continue their careers at the next level.
Linebacker Matt Christman will attend Albright; two-way lineman Mark Feifel is going to Delaware Valley; wide receiver Justin and running back Devin Burton are both set for Lackawanna Junior College and two-way lineman Nick Seibert will attempt to walk on at Villanova.
CHANGE OF PLAN
Emmaus High volleyball standout Tiffany Orbin has changed her future plans. Orbin, an all-area selection last fall, originally was going to walk on as a player at Penn State, but now has been accepted at the highly acclaimed New York University Tisch School of Arts.
Fairleigh Dickinson at Madison sophomore Danielle Yasko (Bethlehem Catholic) was named MVP of the women's basketball team for 2003-04. Yasko averaged 10.2 points per game with 24 3-pointers, 29 steals and 55 assists.
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