The Stanford Invitational will see eight of California’s top 7s teams compete on Saturday. Six of those eight played in San Luis Obispo last weekend, with St. Mary’s winning it all, Cal Poly finishing second and Cal reaching the semifinals.
The top two teams from each pool will advance to the semifinals Saturday, and the bottom two move to the consolation semis.
Getting their first 7s run of the season in Stanford are Sacramento State and the hosts. Stanford is at a distinct disadvantage being on the quarter system, as class started just a few weeks ago.
“We’ll literally have just three 7s sessions under our belt before the tournament, which is tough, but it’s going to be fun,” said Stanford coach Matt Sherman.
“We’ll learn while we go, and I’m sure we’ll get better through the day, and we’re going to get to play a lot of guys. Some guys pretty darn new to the sport we’ll play, so it’ll be a good experience.”
Stanford’s best athlete from the 7s squad that played in the CRC Qualifier in Las Vegas in February, Marcus Henderson, is gone, as is Alex Menke, the former football player who attended the All American camp but didn’t make the team. And the Cardinal has eight seniors and juniors studying abroad this quarter, taking away a few more experienced 7s guys.
“We’re pretty new, we’re pretty young, but we’re decently athletic and the guys are enthusiastic and I think we’ll learn a lot and get a lot better through the weekend, so I’m looking forward to that,” Sherman said.
Saturday will be Cal's third tournament of the fall, and the Bears’ (12-2) roster will be different for the third time. They'll be led by captain Seamus Kelly, the Bears' all-time leader in 7s appearances (22) and tries (19).
Freshman Russell Webb has fast jelled into a starter, with five already in 2012. Webb has contributed 31 points on a try and 13 conversions.
Senior Josh Tucker is coming off the best performance of his Cal career last Saturday at the West Coast 7s, where he scored a team-high three tries. The senior now stands tied for third all-time in Cal 7s with nine tries scored.
The Bears' selections for Saturday continue with Anthony Lombardo, Paul Bosco, Jake Anderson, and sophomores Eakalafi Okusi and Andrew Battaglia, all of whom bring experience to the table.
Cal's freshman class continues to position itself for playing time, with Anthony Salaber, Patrick Barrientes, Cameron Todd and Charles Guiraud selected for the travel squad. They will be joined by second-year players Nicklas Boyer, Michael Bush and James Poindexter.
In total, the Bears will arrive on The Farm for the Stanford 7s with five seniors, three juniors, five sophomores and five freshmen on the team. While balanced by class year, the group selected for Saturday is also notable for its absences.
"Some changes are forced on us with injury while others are elected," said head coach Jack Clark. "We want to provide opportunities to players displaying potential."
Two of the forced changes were due to injury. Brendan Daly is still dinged up and out of commission and Brad Harrington is confirmed out for the season. Additionally, Danny Barrett has been suspended indefinitely for an athletic department code of conduct violation.
Santa Rosa JC