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Southern California finished the opening day of the 7s All Star Championships 3-0 and is the only team who will enter Saturday undefeated.
But the day started off with a 14-10 scare against the South, which boasts a lineup of guys few outside of the South have probably even heard of.
“We came out of the gate in the first few minutes and we scored two beautifully worked tries (scored by Peters Sio and Tiberio),” said SoCal coach James Walker.
“It was really, really slippery conditions, and I told the guys to slow the tempo down and keep possession, because the South was a super, super fit team, and we didn’t. We left the door open, and that’s what happened. They had some shifty little guys and scored some tries. It was a little bit of a wakeup call for us.”
But the Griffins rebounded and won their next game in a walk, beating the Mid-Atlantic 38-0. Peter Tiberio and Jack Tracy chipped in two tries each that game.
“I’m very, very impressed that Tiberio is coming off of injury (a broken arm suffered in the CRC) and he’s getting better every single game,” Walker added.
After scoring in the third-straight game, a 38-24 win over the Pacific Coast, Tiberio leads the tournament in tries with four.
Zach Pangelinan also had a terrific day one, scoring three tries of his own and slotting 10 conversions for a tournament-leading 35 points.
“I personally think Zach is one of the most talented footballers in the country. I think he’s outstanding,” said Walker. “He is just a fantastic player. He sometimes gets down on himself, but I think the last couple of weeks where he’s been kind of with all star teams have really kind of helped build his confidence.”
All eight teams will advance to the quarterfinals on day two, and SoCal will meet the All Americans, who finished 0-1-2 in pool play and last in the other pool, in one of the match ups.
The Northeast won the All Americans’ pool, drawing the college guys and beating the Midwest and West by a combined seven points. The Northeast is led in points by NYAC’s Chris Chapman (15) and in tries by Vini Daly, John Kokinda and Derek Lipscomb (two each). They draw the Mid-Atlantic in the quarterfinals.
The other quarterfinals pit the West against the South and the Pacific Coast against the Midwest.