Jesuit of Sacramento defeated Xavier to take the 2011 High School Championships, winning 50-27 in a game that was far, far more competitive than the final score suggests.
Jesuit showcased an exciting, speedy offense and determined defense when it counted, and got some outstanding performances from lock and captain Chris Fry, wing and game MVP Matt Chipman, and scrumhalf Nick Boyer.
Xavier took an early lead after some concerted pressure, and in fact looked the better team in the opening minutes. Ed Sullivan slotted a difficult penalty to put the New York side up 3-0. But Jesuit replied a few minutes later, with wing Ryan Shuler cutting back against the grain for a well-taken try.
Xavier re-took the lead with a try from center Joseph Wolfer and added another on a quick tap from fullback Ed Sullivan. It was almost all Xavier at this point, as they recycled effectively and showcased some smooth ballhandling.
Xavier led 15-7 and were threatening again when a turnover fell into Jesuit hands. Fullback Frank Ramos and Shuler linked well together and kept the ball alive long enough for openside flanker Clancy Smith to cap it all with a delightful team try. Jesuit then pressure off the restart and No. 8 Michael Bush scored to give his team the lead at 17-15.
Then came a key turning point. Xavier was back in the Jesuit 22 and pushing for the go-ahead score as the first half ended. But another turnover saw Shuler, Bush and Boyer work their magic for a Boyer try and a 24-15 lead into the break.
Early in the first half, Jesuit flyhalf Poindexter was forced off the field, unable to continue with a calf injury. Inside center Pat Barrientes stepped in at flyhalf, but it was lock and captain Fry who often could be seen taking the first pass in open play. Fry was everywhere leading his team.
Meanwhile Xavier had a few wrinkles of their own, including a short lineout that negated Jesuit’s dominance in the air.
Still, Jesuit started the scoring in the second half. Xavier had a ruck in their own half, and the ball lay tantalizingly at the back of the pileup. Fry decided to risk being called offside and went for the ball. No penalty, as the ball certainly appeared out, and he started a movement that ended with Chipman in at the corner for a 31-15 Jesuit lead.
Xavier replied with a smartly-taken try from wing Jim Wolfer, but after that it was virtually all Jesuit. A brilliant dummy from Boyer put the scrumhalf in. Then Chipman went coast to coast for a backbreaker, and while Adam Duignan went over for Xavier, the game was gone by then. Barrientes got his deserved try to finish it off.
“We were telling the boys not to get caught up in whether Xavier was playing the best rugby or not; they’re the defending national champions and they’ve got the national team coach, in defense. They’re going to throw something at us,” said Jesuit Head Coach John Shorey. “We kind of figured it out at halftime. A little quicker recycle, try to attack the wings a little bit more, get a decoy in. Stand ‘em up, and I thought our speed on the end could get ‘em.”
Shorey said the loss of Poindexter was expected because he had been hurt against Gonzaga. Shorey told Poindexter to just distribute and not run, but “when you’re a stallion you’ve got to run. We went through a lot of doomsday scenarios, what if, what if, what if.”
Chipman was outstanding on the wing, but Boyer, Fry, Shuler, Bush and Smith were also very good for Jesuit.
“It was the whole team game,” said Chipman. “We all executed the game plan. I was just the guy who got the lucky breaks on the outside.”
Despite falling behind early, Jesuit kept their composure, and Chipman said that despite the fact that Jesuit has won most of their games easily this season, the Marauders have handled scares before.
“We just kept our heads high, kept our composure, and you saw the results right there,” Chipman said.
Tries: Boyer 2, Bush, Barrientes, Chipman 2, Shuler, Smith
Convs: Boyer 3 Poindexter
Tries: Jo Wilfer, Duignan, Jim Wilfer, Sullivan
Convs: Sullivan 2