Clayton Sawler of the CK Gators gets the advantage over a Middleton opponent on a lineout during their VHSRL semifinal May 27 in Cambridge. Trailing 12-7 at halftime, the Gators erupted for 28 second-half points to score a 35-19 victory. CK moves on to play for the D-1 boys' regional banner Thursday at King's-Edgehill.
The Central Kings boys' rugby team will play for their school's first-ever D-1 boys' regional rugby banner Thursday at King's-Edgehill following a come-from-behind 35-19 win over Middleton Tuesday, May 27 in Cambridge.
The Gators, second-place finishers in the VHSRL regular season with an 8-2 record, trailed third-place Middleton 12-7 at halftime, but erupted for 28 second half points to seal the victory.
Sam Jennings had the first and last CK tries before leaving the game due to injury late in the second half. The Gators lost another of their top players, Ben Best, to a first-half injury.
First-half tries by Connor McCabe and Ben Miller and a convert from Jose Ruiz staked Middleton to its halftime lead.
Isaiah Crossland-Belle got the second half off to a positive start for CK, scoring a try on the first possession of the half.
A try by Sean LaChance and a successful convert by Ruiz gave Middleton back the lead, 19-14, but the Gators responded, taking the lead for good on a penalty try credited to Mason Rice.
With the score 21-19 for CK, Middleton's Ruiz attempted a field kick, but came up short. The Gators capitalized almost immediately, with Jennings romping nearly the length of the field for an uncontested try.
Lukas Kane, who finished five-for-five on converts on the afternoon, added the kick to give CK some breathing room at 28-19.
A late try by James Kendall and another successful convert by Kane rounded out the scoring with time running out.
"I'm excited to pull out a big 'W' over a tough opponent," coach Schroeder said after the game. "Middleton has been our toughest competition this season other than King's-Edgehill."
He stressed that his team had responded to his half-time 'pep talk' and "came out for the second half with great determination." Coaching, he suggested, "always works best when the players listen to what you're telling them."
Schroeder said he was looking forward to the opportunity of playing for the regional banner. "I played here four years, and I never had this opportunity," he said. "Hopefully we can make the best of it."
In the other Tier 1 boys' semifinal Tuesday, King's-Edgehill kept its hopes of an undefeated season alive with a 40-0 win over Avon View in Windsor.
In boys' Tier 2, Annapolis West defeated Digby; the score of that game was not available.
King's-Edgehill will host Central Kings in the boys' Tier 1 regional final Thursday, May 29 at 4 p.m. Horton hosts Annapolis West in the Tier 2 final Thursday at 5 p.m.
In Tier 1 girls' semifinal action on Tuesday, Avon View, which has also not lost this season, blanked Central Kings 44-0 in the one versus four semifinal. King's-Edgehill edged Horton 14-10 in the other Tier 1 semifinal.
In Tier 2 girls', West Kings topped Avon View 'B' 22-12, and Middleton shut out NKEC 40-0.
Avon View hosts King's-Edgehill in the girls' Tier 1 regional final Thursday at 4:15 p.m. Middleton hosts West Kings in the girls' Tier 2 final Thursday at 5 p.m.