Five minutes into the game, Alejandro Ferrer lines up as a wing. He receives a pitch from teammate Anthony Lopez on the 22 meter line. As he catches it, he stumbles. Momentarily, he regains his balance and starts to sprint for the try zone. Ferrer now has two defensive players gaining on him; he runs past one defender down the sideline and stiff arms the next, giving him a little boost. The second defender comes at an angle towards Ferrer. The defender from Troy High School. jumps for his feet, but Ferrer dives into the try zone to make the first 78 meter try in the state final game. After making that first try, Ferrer felt they had already won the game.
Ferrer and his teammates Josh Smith, Anthony Lopez, Deegan Baker, and Moses young worked through the playoffs. After winning districts and regional finals WO plays Downriver high school in semifinals to advance into the into the state finals to compete against Troy high school at Macatawa bay middle school in late July.
“Troy’s rugby team was a tough team to beat. They have good players that played their best; But we still kept our heads in the game and stuck to our assignments to execute,” said Ferrer. What made it tough to beat Troy’s rugby team was that even though they were the same size as the Panthers, they had more players on their team that they could switch in and out of the game, but West Ottawa was faster and had more experience than Troy.
Moses Young, a Fly-Half, is a very reliable player for the West Ottawa rugby team. Young is always ready for the pitch so he can make one cut and sprint to the try zone. “This past season we focused a lot on tackling so during the game no one would break our tackles,” Young said. The Panthers improved on their skill in each position during practice by playing touch rugby for two hours. Also, they play with WO graduates and ask them questions on what to do when they get in bad situations. Formal rugby player Clayton Castro teaches Ferrer how to pass and kick the ball. He also tells Ferrer to watch for the small details like for weakness.
The Panthers improved on a lot of their communication on the field. Before, players just did their own thing. This season, the Panthers connected. They have a brotherhood that has gotten them to where they are now, winning the state championship this past summer. Their defense had good communication, each player works together for every opportunity they have to get to the tackle. “Our offense also played very well,” Ferrer says. The Panthers had three different people that scored during the game.
Ferrer is looking forward to playing outside centers so he can create pathways for the carriers. He is also looking forward to playing a good, hard season to make it into the playoffs and win back-to-back state championships for summer sevens during his senior year in high school.