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Rocky Gorge makes its semifinal debut Saturday against Santa Rosa. The Columbia/Laurel, Md. area club was ousted in the Sweet 16 last season, but has never previously made the final four.

Propelling them to new heights is a pipeline to one of the best DII college programs in the country – Salisbury. Rocky Gorge coach Chuck Moore estimates he has upwards 10 former Sharks in his starting lineup and maybe another half dozen on the bench.

Salisbury is known for its tenacity and physicality. Does that carry over to Rocky Gorge?

“Very much so, and I feel we’ve been able to adapt them to our style and our game plan,” said Moore. “And we’ve got a lot of guys from a lot of generations from Salisbury. We’ve gotten some of the cream of the crop from each year, so it’s actually worked out well for us.”

One of those former Salisbury starters is fullback Andrew Kendall, who played No. 10 as a Shark.

“He’s great with ball in hand. He’s great with the boot. He can tackle, he can run, he’s just got all the skills you want in a fullback,” said Moore of Kendall. “He can step in at flyhalf, as well. A lot of times if the flyhalf makes a play on one side he can go to the other side and play flyhalf over there.”

Rocky Gorge has a lot of interchangeable parts, says Moore.

“Our overall fitness is very high and our depth is very deep. One through 23 could literally be starters, and we’ve been using that as such all season long. We’ve been doing a constant rotation through the playoffs, try and keep everybody healthy, keep everybody fresh and it seems to be working.

“It helps us in the second half when we can bring in some guys in that are usually starters and can go 80 minutes, and they only need to go 40, so they know what they need to do.”

Salisbury’s season crashed to an end in the DII National Championship game a couple of weeks ago in Utah, but if Rocky Gorge returns from Glendale, Colo. with a title, chances are it will soften the blow a bit for Shark Nation.