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FHS Rugby team wins ‘plate level’ state title

After an 0-2 start to the 2007 season, the Farragut High School Rugby Admirals (right) turned things around in a dramatic way under the direction of head coach Josh Holt.

To the tune of winning a state championship in the “plate division” among third-place level teams from across Tennessee last weekend in Nashville

Led by tournament most valuable player Matt Neuhart, Farragut defeated Franklin 17-12 Sunday, May 13.

“We sort of built up our confidence from the fifth game on, we just kinda never looked back from there,” Holt said. “Each week it seemed to get more and more exciting, and more and more of that feeling that we could be as successful as we were.”

Finishing with a final 11-4 record, the Admirals advanced to the final game by crushing Brighton-B (Memphis) Saturday 59-0.

As for turning things around after opening season losses to local rivals West and Maryville, Holt pointed to the return of junior open-side flanker Chris Davidson from an early-season injury.

“It made a difference when he came back from that third game on,” Holt said.

Other key Admirals, junior Joseph Jansen and senior Bryan Mann, were “exceptional kickers to keep us in some games and pull away in some games,” Holt said, adding Mann “as far as I know had no previous kicking experience.

“I think he might have missed two kicks all season,” Holt added about Mann. “He was very instrumental in our win [against Franklin].”

As a team, “We decided to play outstanding defense all year,” said Holt, adding that Sunday’s win was definitely his biggest in five seasons as FHS head coach. “They just sort of bought into the system that we put into place early in the season.”

Offensively, “overall team speed” made a huge difference according to Holt.

The Admirals heated up in April, winning five of six during one stretch that including victories against Bearden and Knoxville Catholic. That six-game scoring margin was 293-48.

Other FHS seniors ending their careers with state titles are co-captains Chris Buckley and Michael Leaver, along with Brandon Penland.


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