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Grizzlies Lead with Defense

Saturday Aug 29, 2009 in Sevens All-Stars

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(Jone Naqica helping the Grizzlies keep the pressure on. Dobson Images.)

New York City - The Pacific Coast Grizzlies men’s 7s team were virtually untouchable Saturday in the first day of the National All-Star Championships, winning all three games and outscoring opponents 93-7.

“I don’t think we missed a tackle,” said head coach John Tyler. “I don’t have the stats in front of me but we made close to 100 percent of our tackles.”

The one try they did give up wasn’t from a missed tackle, but a smart kick wide by the Mid-Atlantic that PJ Komongnan gathered up for the try.

But that was in a game where the Grizzlies won 24-7.

“Our defense was solid,” said Tyler. “We really worked on playing good defense and forcing turnovers and turning those into tries. Mose Timote did a great job organizing and communicating. Jone [Naqica] was great.”

Tyler said he was concerned the team would start slowly – perhaps a holdover from San Francisco Golden Gate’s season, since they contributed several players to the Grizzly cause – but two quick tries against an inexperienced Southern California team got them the start the coach wanted.

“Our experienced players played well and played like experienced players, but our less experienced players really stepped up,” said Tyler.

The coach singled out Mike Nelson and Suli Holani for their defensive effort, and also longtime Arizona-based standout Rick Darrow, who energized the team with his big tackles.

“It was a good start,” said Tyler. “We’ve got to keep up that pressure.”

- Alex Goff

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