Kiski Valley rugby team finally breaks through against rival
With his Kiski Valley rugby teammates gathered around him before Wednesday’s match with Burrell, Dom Rivera let out a yell that could’ve been heard in the parking lot at Burrell.
He yelled from inside the huddle, “We’re not leaving here tonight without that trophy.”
Kiski Valley didn’t leave empty-handed. The Titans pulled away from the Buckheads in the second half to win the third Battle of the Valley, 43-22, at Buccaneer Stadium.
It was their first victory in the rivalry.
“It doesn’t count for (our section record), but Burrell is still our biggest rival,” Rivera said. “They beat us the last two years, and they would talk to us about it.
“So tonight we wanted to come out and smash them in the mouth.”
For Kiski Valley coach Seth Erwin, the win was a moment three years in the making.
He was a former Buckheads assistant before starting the Kiski Valley program.
“(Burrell) is a perennial state playoff team, and to see how far we’ve come against them is amazing,” Erwin said.
Burrell beat Kiski Valley, 54-0, last season.
Kiski Valley (3-1) led 19-15 at halftime but outscored the Buckheads (2-1), 24-7, in the second half.
Tyler Worthing had two tries in the second half, and Alyk Harris and Ty Travaglia had one each. Worthing had three tries and made several big hits.
While the Titans were successful offensively in the second half, Erwin was even more impressed with their defensive.
“At the end of the first half and pretty much the whole second half, we were able to come up and smother their offense,” Erwin said. “They couldn’t keep possession, and that’s exactly what we wanted.”
Burrell coach Mike Klems felt the Titans’ experience was a factor.
“They had 11 returners from last year, and we had a lot of turnover,” Klems said. “There a good side, and I knew it would be a tough battle.”
The Titans were able to get a try early, when John Bazella crossed the goal line. Travaglia added a conversion kick to give the Titans a 7-0 lead. Travaglia hit three conversions.
The Buckheads’Al Beattie added a try, but a failed conversion made it 7-5. Beattie had a pair of tries. Travis Matter and Jordan Schwartz also had tries for Burrell.
The match went back and forth for the majority of the first half and saw the Buckheads take a brief 15-14 lead. JP Larko got a try late in the first half to give the Titans the lead for good.
Tonight was a big step for the Titans, but Rivera, who Erwin calls “the team spark plug,” wants more.
“I want to bring home a state championship,” Rivera said. “This is my last year playing high school rugby, and I don’t want to leave without one.”
Jerin Steele is a freelance writer.