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2018 Grand Island Vikings RC preview

After a five-year absence from the New York State Rugby playoffs, the Grand Island Vikings RC is looking for their experience to lead the way in 2018. Led by an impactful senior class, the game experience of the juniors and even sophomores give the Vikings a lot of options on both sides of the ball.

Club President Ryan Frost enters his fourth year in the front for the GI pack and will lead a senior trio which consists of three-year prop Kevin Sander and first-time prop Josh Harper. Sophomore Caleb Messing and senior Jaquan Johnson will set the tone on the defensive and offensive sides of the ball respectively at the lock positions with a slew of new players manning the loose forwards.

The Vikings will benefit the most from experience and overall athleticism in the backline with six senior starters looking to manipulate opposing defenses. Senior flyhalf Jason Messing and senior outside center Zane Johnson enter the year with four-years of experience. Johnson is the club’s all-time leading scorer and leading try-scorer. Johnson is looking to put a stamp on the greatest career the program has experienced with a playoff berth.

Messing will serve as club captain at the 10 spot due to his dedication to the club and his individual skills throughout his career. He has aimed to improve the academic and athletic reputation of the club in the league and at Grand Island High School.  As a result, Messing quarterbacked a 2017 backline which set the club record for points scored in a season, his first year at flyhalf. Messing and Johnson were named inaugural members of the Buffalo Cup First XV. Messing was also named a 2017 Rugby NY Scholar Athlete along with junior Ben Szabo.

After a year relegate to Rugby NY Div. II, the Vikings are proud to be back in Division I where they are working towards breaking their current playoff drought. With a strong group of seniors leading a hard-working bunch of underclassman, the Vikings are excited to see what 2018 has in store.

-Head coach Dan Hager

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