Posted April 30, 2023 / Last updated May 4, 2023

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On Sunday, April 30, the Blue Jay rugby team wrote the final chapter of what has been a storybook season with a resounding victory in the state championship over longtime foe Brother Martin. The 2022-23 Blue Jays played what has been described by national rugby reporter Alex Goff as the most competitive schedule in the nation.

Goff lauded the Jays as being one of the few if only squads that accepts all challenges, noting that “Many teams avoid the powerhouses and prefer a soft schedule with easy victories.” But not the Blue Jays.

Jesuit accepted the challenges dropped by the reigning national champion, De La Salle (of California), the current number-one team and 12-time national champion, Gonzaga High School (Washington DC) and a host of other powerhouse squads from Texas, Philadelphia, Indiana, Memphis, and Tennessee. It is no exaggeration to say this season the Jays crossed swords with the upper firmament of rugby powerhouses spanning the entire nation. Not every match ended in a Blue Jay victory, but every match ended with a harder, sharper Blue Jay squad.

It was this battle-forged team that took the field against Brother Martin this past Sunday at the NOLA Gold Stadium. From the opening whistle, the Jays played at an operational tempo that was simply beyond what the Crusaders could handle. Within seconds of the kickoff, senior halfback Matt Cashio found a gap in Brother Martin’s defense, which he deftly exploited only to streak downfield for Jesuit’s first try of the match.

From there, Brother Martin’s defense settled in and for the next several minutes held the line but under withering pressure from the Jays’ attack. The smart boot of senior flyhalf Andrew Newell continually stretched with field as Newell chipped kicks over the Crusaders’ line, forcing them to retreat into their own territory to collect the ball. Brother Martin could not resist the pressure and elected to kick from their own scrum—the kick was caught by Newell, who attacked wide before squaring a Crusader defender only to find senior wing Elijah Prosper with a well weighted shoulder-ball. Prosper used his blistering speed to cover half the field in a flash, only just barely being tackled. With Brother Martin’s defense in tatters, the Jays attacked again, with Newell finding senior 8-man Quintin Amedee, who was tackled just short of the tryline. But as he was going down, Amedee offloaded back to Newell, who thanked him as he dotted down for his first try of the match.

The Crusaders again stiffened their ranks and denied the Jays further forays into their tryzone, at least for a while. The Jays’ suffocation defense, however, eventually resulted in the Jays poaching the ball from Brother Martin. Wasting no time, Cashio launched a wide pass to Newell, who in turn launched a salvo of his own to senior outside center Will Hand, who caught and squared before deliver a perfect gap-busting pass to senior fullback Otto Hirstius, who galloped through and into the tryzone for another Blue Jay score. 

Later in the match, the Blue Jay forwards asserted themselves. Sophomore second-row Frank Finicle lead the Jay’s midfield pod with a punishing run that punctured the Crusader line, which the Jays quickly exploited with more another pounding run by Hirstius, which was followed by Newell hard-stepping and mesmerizing a Brother Martin defender, which left a gap for senior lock Timmy Peterman, who accepted a silky pass from Newell, which he promptly dotted down for a try. As the first half wound down, the Jays again found themselves at the door of the Crusader tryzone. A cohort of Jesuit forwards formed a “dozer” formation to hammer at the Crusaders’ defense. Senior prop Jonathan Rouse swung the final hammer blow as he rammed through the Crimson defense for another try. 

The final score was Blue Jays 71, Brother Martin 15. Following the match, the NOLA Gold head coach Kane Thompson who was scouting noted he felt senior wing Elijah Proper, who scored three tries including an 80-meter scorcher, was Jesuit’s man-of-the-match.

Nine Jesuit players were named to the all-state team: Senior, Matt Cashio; Senior, Andrew Newell; Senior, Otto Hirstius; Senior, Joe Charif; Senior, Timmy Peterman; Senior, Jon Rouse; Senior, Quinn Amadee, Senior, Ben Musgrave, Senior, Elijah Prosper.

Next up—on Friday, May 12, at 6:00 p.m., at Marconi, the Jays face their toughest opponent—their dads— in the sixth annual “Dads v Lads” match. The Dads, who the Lads have never defeated are captained by David Cashio (father of senior Matt Cashio) who was quoted as saying: “Our motto is ‘while we may be old, we’re also slow’.” All are invited to come out and help the boys finish out the season in style.