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Morton rugby finds success despite team makeover

Published: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 2:30 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, July 25, 2014 4:36 a.m. CDT

BERWYN – Morton rugby has been so successful over the last several years that when the team loses two regular season games, it’s surprising.

The Mustangs are 3-2 heading into Wednesday’s regular season finale against Waubonsie, but have posted that record with an entirely new starting lineup.

“We lost just about everybody from last year,” coach Aaron Sweeney said. “We didn’t have a single starter returning from last year’s team. If you told me we’d be 3-2 heading into the last game of the season I think I probably would have taken that.”

Morton is still in line to make the postseason, which takes the top two teams from each of the three divisions and two wildcards from the 15 Division I teams. The Mustangs’ two losses were close defeats to Arlington (25-22) and Palatine (9-7) so there’s hope for a turnaround in the postseason.

The rugby team has finished top three in the state every year but one since 2006. Sweeney is hoping to continue that trend.

“I think a reasonable goal would be to make it to the second round [of the playoffs] and [place] third,” Sweeney said.

Most of the current players moved up from the junior varsity team last year, but some talented athletes went straight into varsity without any previous experience in the sport.

Plenty of juniors and sophomores are contributing to make the future appear bright, but some seniors are still in key roles.

Seniors Czargon Reyes, Enrique Yanez and John Broderick have been big for the team. Reyes is on with the varsity after spending two years on junior varsity and has played multiple positions. Yanez has been invited to tour with the all-state team in the United Kingdom. There will be a fundraiser for the trip at Wednesday’s match.

Juniors Josh Montanez and Noel Ibarra, who was also a standout wrestler in the winter and is the only player on the team with any varsity experience, have also been regulars in the lineup.

“We’ve had years where we’ve lost a lot of guys and we’ve had some years where we were junior dominated, but this is the first time we’ve had a completely new deck,” Sweeney said. “We got a chance to make all those losses go away.”

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