Jan. 10, 2009
BERKELEY - A dozen Golden Bears scored a total of 16 tries as California won its season opener over Humboldt State, 103-0, Saturday on Witter Rugby Field.
A sparkling day greeted fans in Strawberry Canyon to see the 2009 Bears take the field, and Cal did not disappoint, playing sound rugby against a Lumberjacks team that has been a perennial participant in the Division II postseason.
Lumberjacks head coach Alex Lundberg, a Humboldt State graduate who played on teams that advanced to the national quarterfinals in 2004, final in 2005, semifinals in 2006 and quarterfinals in 2007, said, "When we play Cal, they always look the same. It's just really good, solid rugby."
Humboldt State took a crack at a three-pointer for the posts out of a scrum to get onto the scoreboard from the Cal 25-meter line in minute 11, but the attempted dropkick was blocked by Eric Fry. The senior lock exited the match with a cut above his eye seven minutes later, but after the match said, "It looks like it could the beginning of a good year."
Even as this year's roster tries to set the tone for this year's team, the Bears' starting lineup Saturday did not look markedly different that the one that played Humboldt State at this time last season, with nine of the same starters - four in new positions - and three more starters who played the second half on opening day of 2008.
Many reserves made their Cal debut, including senior flanker Tom Sproats, who joined the team this fall after three years on the rowing team. "I'm happy to get out of the boat and play with a ball," Sproats said. "We just want to get better each day."
"It was a great atmosphere and I enjoyed my debut," said fellow newcomer James Bailes, a transfer junior who came in at fullback.
Returning veterans included senior Scott Kidd, who has relocated to flanker from the wing after a year off from injury, "It's not often you can get out on Witter Rugby Field," Kidd said. "My first time at forward since freshman year and I definitely have some learning to do, but it felt great."
Senior hooker Chris Biller agreed: "It's nice to get the cobwebs out. It seems like we haven't been on Witter for a while and it's a nice homecoming."
California hits the road next weekend for the fourth annual UCLA Tournament, a gathering of Pac-10 universities also known as the Dennis Storer Classic. The Golden Bears will square off against Southern California to start off Saturday morning, followed by clashes against Washington and Oregon State. Outcomes of Saturday's action will determine the seeding for Sunday.
Last year, the Bears won the UCLA Tournament for the third straight time in as many years, shutting out Oregon, USC and Washington State before beating UCLA in the final.
The Scoring Timeline vs. Humboldt State:
03:00 Alex Leach 5
08:00 Chris Biller 5
24:00 Dustin Muhn 5
31:00 Alex Leach 5
44:00 Connor Ring 5
Halftime: California 53, Humboldt State 0
49:00 Jason Law 5
57:00 Nick Mascheroni 5
62:00 Nick Mascheroni 5
Final Score: California 103, Humboldt State 0
The Starting Lineup vs. Humboldt State:
15. Hawley, 14. Muhn, 13. Gallinger, 12. Watson, 11. Leach, 10. Engelbrecht ©, 9. Mase, 1. Wilhelmy, 2. Biller, 3. J. Barrett, 4. Snellgrove, 5. Fry, 6. Jesseman, 7. Rooke, 8. Balough