PAC finally gets over the hump

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Third time a charm as area high school rugby team captures Division II state title

By Michael Hicks

GLENDALE — As the seconds winded down May 9 at Infinity Park it was all the PAC Rugby sideline could do to contain its exuberant enthusiasm. After all this had been three years in the making.
A bridesmaid two years running in the Division II high school state championship game, PAC Rugby, with players from Conifer, Platte Canyon and Evergreen high schools, didn’t want to experience that feeling again. This time it didn’t have to.
Behind two scores from Brian Grieve and one each for Trent Tosetti and AJ Eleniewski, PAC got the proverbial monkey off its back with a 27-7 victory over the Grand Gents. It’s the team’s second Division II title and first since 2003.
“This was our goal the whole year. ... We said third time a charm,” PAC head coach Hugh Miller said. “The guys played like they wanted to be here. The whole year was focused on this moment.”
In spite of a fourth-place finish during the regular season, PAC (8-3) capped the 2012 season with a six-game winning streak, including three straight in the postseason.
“We just have a ton of athletic kids this year. We have a fast team, a strong team. We’re not the biggest, but we have the most heart,” Grieve, a first-year player, said. “They brought it all year. We’ve been waiting for this.”
Victories over Castle Rock (31-6) and Highlands Ranch (27-14) qualified PAC for the Division II finals. And in Grand Gents, PAC met a familiar foe. The Platte Canyon-Conifer-Evergreen squad scored a 21-8 regular-season win over the Gents three-and-half weeks earlier at Conifer High School.
Even though PAC led 10-0 at halftime it knew that it needed to score early in the second half to hold Grand Gents at bay. It did so twice.
First, Eleniewski scored just 52 seconds after halftime. Then Grieve punched in the first of his two scores seven minutes later to build PAC’s lead to 22-0.
More than just the previous experience of being in the finals, PAC may have benefitted mostly this season from its sheer numbers. With a handful of first-year players, including Tosetti, PAC rolled out a roster of 45 players. That came in handy not only in games, but in practices as well.
“Other teams struggled to get guys out on the field. We always had people to practice against, which is what really made us a strong team especially when we had kids coming out here the last couple of playoff weeks. That helped us win the playoffs and state,” Tosetti said.