Teamwork is a big reason why the Tri-Village rugby club is ranked among the top teams in the state this season.
The Bearcats, who improved to 4-2 with a 19-0 win over Avon on May 3, were seventh in the Division I state poll released April 29 by rugbyohio.com, behind top-ranked Lakewood St. Edward. There are 13 Division I teams in the state.
"We have been focused in practice and playing as a team," said Ready High School senior DeAndre Golden, who plays outside center and is one of 16 players on the Bearcats' roster. "That's been the key for us."
Also on the roster are seniors Noah Dall (Watterson), Austin Dent (Marion-Franklin), Chase Greenlee (Upper Arlington), James Hanson (Dublin Jerome), Connor Knoop (UA), Mitch Werner (Watterson), Will McKenzie (UA), Sam Smith (Hilliard Davidson) and Matt Young (UA), juniors Dan Orndorff (Davidson), Jack Ryan (Davidson) and Austin Sowers (Davidson) and sophomores Alec Dent (Marion-Franklin), Austin Leahy (Watterson) and Jack Powers (Davidson).
"We try to do everything that we can so the team can win," said Young, who has committed to playing for Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia. "There isn't a lot of 'I' players on this team. It's all very team-oriented."
Young plays the scrum-half position, which he described as being similar to a quarterback in football.
"My job is to dig the ball out of scrums and rucks to open up the play again," he said. "The person with the ball is one player against the other team's 15 players. It's you versus the other team and you have 14 other guys working for you."
Greenlee, an inside center who has committed to play football at John Carroll University, likes the non-stop action of rugby.
"In football, the play stops, but it never stops in rugby (until a team scores)," he said. "It's a lot more intense (than football)."
The team camaraderie is what drew Orndorff to the sport.
"The whole atmosphere is different than when I played baseball and softball (at Davidson)," said Orndorff, who plays a wing position. "It's really relaxed and more like a family than a team."
Tri-Village lost its season opener, falling to 10th-ranked Brunswick 22-10 on March 22, but won its next three matches.
The Bearcats knocked off the 2012 national champion, Washington, D.C., Pride, 29-27 on March 29 at Wheeling Jesuit and beat the Westerville Worms, who were ranked seventh in the state at the time, 26-17 on April 12. Pride was the national runner-up last season, losing to Tulsa (Okla.) Union 12-10 in the championship match.
"Those two victories brought us a lot of attention," coach Tom Fetters said. "We were up 29-10 (on Pride), but since we were on a road trip, I wanted to get everyone in the game or (the score) wouldn't have been that close. We scored 14 points in the first three minutes and set the tone for the game. It's nice to jump out like that."
Tri-Village then beat the Indian Springs Jets 24-22 on April 26 before losing to the Pickerington Marauders 29-7 on April 29. Indian Springs, which is based in the Cincinnati area, was ranked eighth in the state and Pickerington was ranked sixth.
"We didn't play to our potential (against Pickerington)," said Fetters, whose team plays Saturday, May 10, at Cincinnati Moeller. "(Pickerington) is one of the teams we have to go through if we want to make the (state) final four. We didn't play with the emotion that we needed."
While Tri-Village is one of four boys clubs in central Ohio, there are girls teams in the Cleveland and Dayton areas.
"Whether you are big guy or a little guy, a big girl or a little girl, rugby is a fit for every kid or any gender," said Fetters, a 2006 Davidson graduate who played for Tri-Village. "We have a diverse group of players.
"And we're all like family in rugby. You make longtime friends in rugby. I probably still talk to 85 percent of my former players and teammates. That's what makes the sport special."