By Joe Hadachek
Football numbers may be down in the high school ranks across the USA but the number of young athletes playing rugby continues to rise. The game is now played by 35,000 high school athletes in the United States, a ten-fold increase in the last decade.
As the Wolf Creek Rugby Club enters its fourth year of competition, the team comprised of students from Union High School has some major questions that will need to be answered.
Following the 2017 season, Wolf Creek lost a number of key seniors to graduation. Two-time Most Vaulable Player Isaiah Vaughan is gone. So too are Jordan Schmitz, Sam Johnson, John Boisen and Eli Kinsel. Derek Holschag now wrestles for the University of Northern Iowa and Dylan Stech is a member of the Simpson College football team.
Other key contributors lost from last year’s team include Koby Alpers and Kaleb Roach, who have opted to participate in track this spring.
Wolf Creek also has a new head coach this season. Following a job transfer to Des Moines, Deandre Moore has handed the job to former assistant coach, Isaac Benton. UNI rugby club member, Aaron Demory, will assist Benton.
Despite the major changes in personnel, Wolf Creek’s roster numbers nearly 20 with a mix of returning veterans and players new to the sport.
Coach Benton will look to Kyle Gross, Jon Millard, Seth Wirtz, Mason Scott, John Adelmund, Richie Arteaga, and Rashawn Williams to lead the team. With a number of players with proven junior varsity experience filling in the gaps, Wolf Creek expects to be a team that will improve throughout the season.
Rugby sevens is a fast-moving, physical game. Its name is derived from the number of players each team has on the field and the two seven minutes halves of play that are separated by a two minute intermission.
The Wolf Creek Rugby Club plays all of their home games on the Union Middle School football field in Dysart. The team opens the season in Waverly on March 30 at 7:20 PM against Waverly-Shell Rock, the team that defeated Wolf Creek for the small school state championship in 2017. Their second match of the evening will be against Denver 8:20 PM.
For additional information, logon to the Iowa Youth Rugby Association’s website at http://www.iayra.org/.