Defending National Champs Belmont Shore are back in the Cup Quarterfinals. They look different this time around. In the lead up to this tournament, we talked a lot about the players they’d lost, but not much about the player’s they have.
One who stood out tremendously on Saturday in pool play was Mikey Te’o, the 19-year-old U20 hooker that played wing, center and hooker for the 15s National Champs this spring. He started at scrumhalf for Belmont on Saturday and was electric, leading the team with three tries on the day.
“My big thing with Mikey earlier in the day was to do more with the ball. He wasn’t doing enough, and by the end of the day he was doing too much with the ball,” said Belmont coach James Walker, “but that’s all a part of the growth of the player. He’s got to make the mistakes to get his decision making right at critical times. But, you can see, he’s got all the tools.”
Te’o got better as pool play wore on. He scored the game-tying match and kicked the game-winning conversion to beat the Tama Laie Lions 19-17 in Belmont’s second match Saturday. Had Belmont lost, they would have dropped to 0-2 on the day and been eliminated from Cup contention.
And he was dazzling in Belmont’s final match, a 33-0 drubbing of the Kansas City Blues, scoring an impressive individual try by weaving through the Blues’ defensive midfield and notching three conversions.
Te'o played for Belmont last year but couldn't break into the top team. New to Belmont this year is a pair of big bruisers in Jack Tracy, a former U20 center, and Eric Duechle, a 2008 All American at Air Force. Both are massive and surprisingly nimble.
“They’re both very physical, both ridiculous athletes,” said Walker. “Beast (AKA Duechle), obviously, is from another planet. He’s got serious pace. He still doesn’t quite have his 7s fitness, but he’s still a handful. It was interesting, because both Jack and Beast brought such a physical aspect to the game that nobody noticed Peter Dahl.”
Dahl, Duechle, Tracy and Eddie McKenna give Belmont Shore, a team that’s traditionally thrived on fancy back play and darting players like Tai Enosa, Shalom Suniula, the Malifa brothers and Peter Sio, a formidably deep and intimidating pack.