Should anyone be worried that DII club Santa Rosa made the final of the Northern California Qualifier?
Probably, yes, as Santa Rosa lost just twice on Saturday, both times to eventual winners SFGG. However, the team learned a lot from losing.
“I had no idea what to expect going into this weekend,” said Santa Rosa 7s Coach Marc Vera, who was one of the sparkplugs for the Olympic Club 7s program in the mid-00s. “We have some good young players, some kids from colleges, but we weren’t getting a lot of numbers at training. Still our guys are super-coachable and fast and fit, so they had potential.”
Then, when they learned they were in a pool with SFGG, and, in fact, would play the Elite Cup champs in the opening match, they realized they weren’t playing any recreational ball now.
“They realized they were in the big leagues,” said Vera. Yes, Santa Rosa lost that game, “but we scored a try. And our guys came off realizing that if they don’t miss a couple of one-on-one tackles, and don’t make another mistake, they are right in that game. I think it was an eye-opener for them, that if they commit to the pattern and are really serious, they can compete.”
And that’s what they did. With St. Mary’s scrumhalf Holden Yungert injecting some enthusiasm and hooker Greg Hildebrand playing well, they have some guys who can turn a game around. But, said Vera, it’s all about putting all the pieces together, and having a little belief.
“We have a lot of talent and good support players,” said Vera. “Once our guys realized try were competitive, they started to play even better. We showed up on Treasure Island and no one knew anything about us. Now they know, so we will see how our team responds.”