May 12th, 2014: The Fort Wayne Black and Blue made short trip up 24 to do battle with the Celtics of Toledo, and both teams were looking for something different. The Black and Blue were anxious to get back on the pitch after an injury cut the game with The Westside Outcasts short; and they we looking to prove that the victory over Toledo in Youngstown was no fluke. The Celtics on the other hand were looking to show that they were the dominant 15’s team.
Fort Wayne traveled well for the short trip; the team was made up of many young players looking to make some noise and veterans that were ready to go hard. Rookies present for The Black and Blue included Taylor Serres, Kyle “Baby” Booher, Nathan Strack, Andrew Stephenson, Felipe Martinez, and Conor Bonfil ; for Nathan and Andrew it was there first ever rugby game. Veterans present included: Bryan Werling, Jeremy Dunfee, Matt “Juice” Mangan, Chuck Geyer, Josh Boyanoski, and Austin Fain.
It became clear, early into the game, that rucks were going to very contested and that it was going to be tough to gain ground against the Toledo defense. The Celtics were running hard and straight into gaps early in the game and before The Black and Blue could fix the problem, Fort Wayne was down three tries in 20 minutes. Reeling, Fort Wayne needed something to happen. Kicks by Toledo were turned into scoring situations for Fort Wayne; Ben Browden did an excellent job fielding kicks and making Toledo pay by hard running. Josh Boyanoski was the first to score and that was followed by scores from Austin Frain and Juice.
After halftime, rucks were just as contested and running lanes were still few and far between for The Black and Blue. With neither team willing to back down, the game was surprisingly clean but still contested. The efforts of Austin Fain and Shane Trigg help suck in Toledo’s defense and open running lanes for the back line, but seemed like penalties were slowing us down.
Toledo scored two more tries but missed all of the kicks, with the presumed death blow dealt The Black and Blue kept clawing back. Great plays by individuals who put forth great effort kept the the team alive as time was winding down. The Juice had a good kick that should have been a try but a penalty stopped us. The next kick would end in points for Fort Wayne; as ball landed Nathan Strack gave chance and scored his first ever try in his first ever game.
Josh Boyanoski also scored a try on a great effort by the whole team to put us into the lead with about two minutes left in the game. With time winding down, The Black and Blue lost possession and there was a scrum for Toledo on the five meter line. The Scrum was lost and so was the game, Toledo picked the ball and scored ending the heavily contested game 26-30.
The outcome of the game was not what any Black and Blue player wanted, but we played our asses off all game; there was no reason to hang heads or fight amongst ourselves at the end. I will say that I was one to hang my head, and I’ve done it in the past as well; because you don’t play to lose the game and I hate losing period; especially when it is something that I am passionate about. That will be the last time I leave the field with my head down; it’s time to take pride in what we have and stop taking three steps forward and one back every week.
Failure always precedes success but it also tells us about our character as a team; we have been practicing well, Austin Fain has stepped up and done a lot as a young player, and we have fun being around each other; our friendship is contagious and it shows in our rookies being around. That game was one of the best I think that we have played prolly all spring and fall. I wasn't around in 2008-2009, but I’ve heard a lot about those years and the success that they enjoyed; I look forward to learning how they did it and working hard, now, to create our own path forward.
Bleed Black and Blue