Players Subtracted: Peter Dahl , Josh Williams, Richie Deadman, Ryne Bowden
Coaching Changes (if any): Mark Kernan, former US prop as forwards coach, Grant Anderson as backs and DI coach
Team Leaders: Brice Shilling and Ed Pitts (co-captains)
Players to Watch: Brice Shilling and Joe Taufetee
Warm-up Matches: 42-0 win over Downtown, 61-10 win over Pasadena (both DI matches)
Over the first two years of the competition Belmont Shore have been knocking on the door of finishing in the top two but have fallen short each time. This year they will have a bit of a younger squad but the goal of making the final and winning the league hasn’t changed.
A big weakness from last year was depth, something head coach Ray Egan says the team has worked to fix. “We need to more consistent with every performance and we need to put teams away in the green zone with points…I know that we are strong in terms of our depth and we need that as we used 34 players last season and just came up short in the last game of the regular season. We are a year wiser this year so hopefully that gives us more confidence in our own abilities. “
One of the things the team is going to have to deal with early in the season is turnover. Leaving the team in the offseason is stalwart Peter Dahl who retired and moved to Denver, Josh Williams who moved back East to focus on law, Richie Deadman, and Ryne Bowden. However, the team has added several new faces. Max Paronelli is a center who came through the Cal State Long Beach program. Prop Mike Meaole is reportedly a strong ball carrier and defender. Nick Simmons is a scrumhalf with experience at the National League 1 level in England. Eric Deuchle also returns to the club.
With the changes the team is going to be a little more on the youthful side this year. According to Egan the team is going to have to rely on leaders like co-captains Brice Shilling and Ed Pitts, as well as Joe Taufetee to carry them through. Taufetee will be away with the Eagles for the Americas Rugby Championship for much of the season, however.
Overall, Egan sees potential. “Ian Carpenter and Eric Deuchle in the back row has the potential to be a great pairing of ball carriers and getting go forward for us. In the backs I am eager to see how Mike Te’o and Nick Simmons work together as both are very dynamic and like to push the pace of play. Obviously Mike has already proven himself with the 7’s program and we are very proud of him being selected for the 15’s Squad for the 6 Nations. Mike and Joe are both products of our excellent Belmont Shore Youth program!”
Belmont are looking to play a high tempo game this year that uses their ball carriers to generate forward momentum. They are hoping for a balance of physicality and speed. The club feels that if they can push the pace and take care of the ball they have what it takes to be in contention for the final at the end of the season.
The club begins the season with a big match against SFGG followed by Olympic Club, Santa Monica, and Denver all at home.