September 25, 2014: By Chris Baker: Two games into The Black and Blues season leaves the club with one hard fought win and one loss that shows where improvement is needed. The Columbus Rhinos came to Fort Wayne for the season opener at McMillan park with a club that was prepared and ready to win. Fort Wayne also showed up in force with team full of veterans, new players to the team, and rookies looking to avenge a lopsided loss the season before. Both teams were trying players at new position and Fort Wayne players were looking to earn a spot.

Veterans present for The Black and Blue were: Jim Burns, Jeremy Dunfee, Clint Wall, Jeff Salamone, James Sendo, Wes Steele, Josh Boyanowski, Cody Casagrande, Ryan Day, Kevin Hastings, and Austin Fain. Newer players and rookies present were: Ben Bowden, Felipe Martinez, Taylor Serres, Nathan Strack, Ben Fuchs, Chris Ballard, Andrew Stevenson, Shane Trigg, and Dan Duffy.

The game was too fast in the beginning for The Black and Blue, and we quickly fell behind. Fort Wayne started dominating scrums and moving the ball out to playmakers, while keeping possession of the ball. Lineouts were a problem that plagued The Black and Blue in both games. After half time, substitutions were made and people changed positions to find a way to win the close game.

A red card, for a dangerous tackle, early in the second half gave Fort Wayne an  advantage that couldn’t be wasted. Scrums continued to be dominated and  saw The Black and Blue score 3 unanswered tries. The game ended with a Fort Wayne victory 29-24. Ben Fuchs had 3 tries, Kevin Hastings and Chris Ballard each had one; while Clint Wall kicked two conversions.

This last weekend, The Black and Blue traveled to Carmel, Indiana to take on White River in a growing rivalry. Both teams were expecting something the worst from the other, but this was a surprising clean game played by both sides and it deserves to be mentioned!

Veterans present for The Black and Blue were: Jim Burns, Jeremy Dunfee, James Sendo, Wes Steele, Josh Boyanowski, Cody Casagrande, Ryan Day, Kevin Hastings, Austin Fain, and Matt Brown. Newer players and rookies present were: Felipe Martinez, Taylor Serres, Nathan Strack, Ben Fuchs, Chris Ballard, Andrew Stevenson, Shane Trigg, and Dan Duffy.

For the second week in a row Fort Wayne started slow, but this time it would end differently. White River came out and kept the tempo high and nothing went right for Fort Wayne for the first 15 minutes of the game. After a quick first half, Fort Wayne was down 4 tries.

The second half saw a more competitive game take place and it also saw an injury to a White River player. I speak for Fort Wayne when I say that we wish him well on his recovery. The game was played a little more in Black and Blues style, but the White River scored twice near the end to put the game away and out of reach for Fort Wayne. The final score was 15-34.

Truth be told, I think that lack of focus is a big issue and it has put us in bad positions twice this year. Just because we have worked hard all off season doesn’t mean people are going to roll over for us. We also have to be confident in each others skills and work as a team. We have great individuals, but I don’t five tries if we lose. We can’t overlook anyone in this league, ever. I was here last year when we went 0-7 after we won our first game of the year. I am asking you guys not to forget that 1-7 season because if we do, we will repeat it.

On the brighter side, we did lots of things well in both games. We didn’t fight amongst ourselves, but I think that this lead to us being too afraid to say anything or pick each other up against White River. The team as whole is learning to lay with each other still, and we look good in moments for sure. Failure precedes success always and we are not afraid to try things that might fail; and that is complement to our camaraderie, which I think is better than any team we will face this year! We love each other, we need to start playing selfless rugby. Team means Together Everyone Achieves More, and I don’t like to lose! Lets work together, we will see both teams again, one is looking for revenge like we were; and the other thinks they are better than us. Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.

Bleed Black and Blue