St. Thomas hosting St. Pius
St. Thomas vs. St. Pius is a big deal in any sport, but the rivalry is growing in importance in rugby.
The Eagles have long been a rugby powerhouse, advancing to nationals four times and claiming three Texas High School Rugby Conference state titles. Ranked in the top 20 nationally, they are considered the premier program in Houston.
Meanwhile, the Panthers are relatively new to the scene, although they claimed the THSRC's Division II state crown a year ago.
On Friday, April 8, St. Thomas will host St. Pius in the Pink Ribbons Lady Hager Cup, a fund-raiser for breast cancer research. It's also "Senior Night" at St. Thomas. However, St. Thomas head coach Jim Wolfinger said his squad is focused more on solidifying the top seed at the THSRC State Tournament the following weekend at Strake Jesuit.
"I feel like we have the No. 1 seed locked up, but we want to go to the state with some momentum," said Wolfinger, noting that the Eagles finished third at state and failed to qualify for nationals a year ago. "Our goal is to win state and do well at Western Regionals and nationals. We have big plans."
ABOUT THE GAME
• Matchup: St. Pius Panthers at St. Thomas Eagles
• When: 7 p.m., Friday, April 8
• Where: Granger Stadium, St. Thomas
• What's at stake: This game is for more than bragging rights. St. Thomas is trying to complete a perfect 6-0 run through the THSRC's South District. St. Pius wants to improve its seeding for the upcoming state tourney.
• St. Pius players to watch: Hunter Auth, Jordan Critchlow, Grant Nippler, Matthew Schick, Tim Vachon and Joseph Wolfe.
• St. Thomas players to watch: Danny Amsler, Roderick Blouin, Grayson Dowlearn, Dickson Garnett, Sebastian Gracia, Josh Ibarra, Rob Mabry, Keegan Mills, Parker White.
• St. Pius: The Panthers (5-3) have been idle since a 22-21 loss to Allen on March 26. St. Pius head coach Lowell Locke feels the lay-off was well-timed, allowing his squad to rest after a spring break road trip and several nagging injuries. The Panthers' best player is Schick at the No. 8 position.
• St. Thomas: The Eagles crushed defending state champion Austin Westlake 43-31, remaining unbeaten (8-0) against Texas teams this season. Blouin, a winger, had two tries for St. Thomas, while Dowlearn and White each had a try. Gracia's accuracy as a kicker is big reason why the Eagles, now 9-2, are averaging 45 points per game.
Local Advertising by PaperG