– Senior Night 2018 –
The St. Augustine Prep Rugby Program has experienced a steady, rapid, and resounding growth that has spelled doom for recent opponents. This ascension to state-wide prominence has been accomplished through Head Coach Brendan Towell’s leadership and the unrelenting, fearless determination of the Hermits who have graced the pitch under his watch. The Class of 2018 has fueled the program’s meteoric rise to dominance and their historic contribution to the legacy of the program was recognized in a recent pre-match ceremony. The festivities, preceding the April 27th match vs. CBA, honored the 18 graduating members of Hermit Rugby. The 18 from “#SA2018″ were each accompanied by their loved ones, all of whom joined the coaching staff for a “family” photo.
The emotion of the day would carry over to the match as the ruggers of St. Augustine defeated Christian Brothers Academy by a score of 36-14. Sean Lenzsch, a Life University Commit, would take home “Man of the Match” honors in the decisive victory. As they have done in the classroom and in the athletic arena, the leadership of the senior class has been evident, not just through the wins and state championships, but through the culture they have cemented in their four-years on the pitch. This group has raised the bar and has set the new standard that future Hermit Rugby sides will forever strive to follow.
2018 Senior Night Bios
Experience & Position(s): Since his arrival at the Prep during his Junior Year, Sean has distinguished himself as a dominant force within the Hermits Athletics world as a rare three-sport athlete. He has especially lit up the Hermit Rugby Program and NJ Rugby as a whole in his position as Eight Man. Sean arrived at the Prep with outstanding physical abilities paired with a strong Rugby IQ, inherited from a Father and older brother who are both well versed in the sport and came with previous club experience. Coach Towell openly admits “I feel much safer when Sean is on the field competing as a Hermit rather than competing against us as he did in the past. He is the real deal!”
Sean has been instrumental in the Hermits’ success and helped the Program achieve their long-awaited dream of a NJ State Title in the Spring of 2017. Soon after, Sean was named to the NJ Rugby All-State Team in his first year as a Hermit. This season Sean has stepped into his senior leadership role with ease both in NJ and overseas where he experienced substantial success. While in Ireland, Sean won “Man of the Match” against County Carlow in Wexford and won the nickname of “Terminator” in Scotland competing against the Dunfirmline RFC.
Just this month Sean signed his commitment letter to play collegiate rugby at Life University in Marietta, Georgia where he will play for the highly regarded Coach Colton Cariaga and join one of the finest D1 Single A Rugby Programs in the Nation.
Experience & Position(s): In his second year as a Hermit Rugby player, Michael has truly come into his own as a member of the Forward Pack, especially as Prop and in the Second Row. Michael brings a seriousness to practice and a toughness to match day that make him an essential piece of the Hermit Rugby puzzle. Michael was a part of our 2017 NJ State Championship Team & recently returned from a rugby tour of Ireland & Scotland.
Michael is also a legacy member of the Hermit Rugby Program with his older brother, Eddison (Class of 2016) serving as the Program’s long-time Manager.
Michael will be attending Rowan University in the Fall where he hopes to play for long-time friend of Hermits Rugby, Coach Scott Wilson.
Experience & Position(s): A first-year Tight Head Prop, Yannis brings years of Hermits Football experience to the Rugby Program making his transition seamless. Eager to learn and passionate about supporting his teammates Yannis has emerged as a bedrock foundation for the Forward Pack and his Front Row mates. Strong in the Scrum and the Lineouts, Yannis competes for every ball and never shies away from contact or support of his teammates.
In addition to his hard work on the field, Yannis bring a lightheartedness to training and can frequently be seen with his signature smile. Younger teammates should take note of Yannis’ well-balanced nature and attempt to emulate it if they wish to succeed. His self-appointed nickname of “Greek god” says it all!
Yannis will be attending Arizona State University in the Fall and is considering Rugby there under Head Coach Pieter Hugo.
James “Jimmy” Pendzik
Experience & Position(s): Another first-year addition to the Program, Jimmy arrived to the pitch with a desire to prove himself as a serious rugby player. Needless to say – he has succeeded. Almost immediately after joining the team, Jimmy made an impact on the Forward Pack, seeing starting time at both Second Row and at Flanker. Coach Conover has commented that Jimmy is “one of the most reliable players” he has in the Forwards.
Often quiet in training, Jimmy make his presence felt on match day and leads with a consistently solid example. From the kickoff to the final whistle, Jimmy’s focus is on one thing – supporting his teammates in every way. Those qualities have all the markings of a real leader.
After graduation this Spring, Jimmy has his sights set on schools like Rowan University & Widener University. He is also considering the United States Navy.
Experience & Position(s): An experienced three-year player, Jack has been one of the foundations of the Hermits recent success. As Hooker his responsibilities are many and Jack’s knowledge of both the game and the position have made him one of the top players in New Jersey at his position.
Jack has participated in two international tours of both Ireland and Scotland in 2016 and again this Spring. He was a starting member of both the A-Side 2017 NJ State Championship Team and 2017 Fall 7’s Sate Championship Team and made the prestigious CRC 7’s Team in 2017. Accolades aside, Jack is recognized most for being humble and for regularly demonstrating Augustinian servant-leadership skills. He can be relied on to assist in workouts and practices and serves as a mentor for new players.
Jack will be attending Mount St. Mary’s University (Maryland) this Fall where he has committed to play for Coach Jay Myles. We look forward to seeing Jack continue to lead in his new community.
Jared “ Bird” Hannah
Experience & Position(s): Considered the “heart of the team”, Jared been a part of the Program all four years at the Prep and has led the Hermits as the starting A-Side Scrum Half for the past two seasons. Skilled in 15’s and 7’s, Jared has seen notable success in both the Fall and Spring. Jared has won three NJ State Championships (two in 7’s Rugby in 2015 & 2017 and one in 15’s in 2017). In addition to these Program accomplishments, Jared was selected to play for the NJ 7’s All-Star Team to compete in the New York City 7’s tournament – one of the largest rugby tournaments of its kind in the United Sates. Jared has also been selected for three years to participate in the prestigious National CRC 7’s tournament both for the Prep and the Atlantis Rugby Select Team.
Jared is well known for his leadership skills and for both his physical and mental toughness. This has been clearly in display in NJ and overseas where Jared has competed in six international matches in Ireland and Scotland during two tours. Coach Towell has often commented “I wish I had a team of Jared Hannahs.”
Finally, Jared is a legacy member of the Program with his older brother, Aaron (Class of 2013), preceding him. Aaron admits the Program has come a long way since his time and acknowledges his brother is a big reason why.
Jared will be attending Bently University in the Fall and will play ruby for Coach Brian Pendergast. We are sad to see him go but know the Falcons will love their new Bird!
Experience & Position(s): Plucked out of obscurity last Spring by Coach Towell on the Turf Field one afternoon, Stephen very quickly found his home in Hermits Rugby. New to the school his Junior year, Stephen was ready for a challenge and worked hard to earn a starting position in his very first season. Essential to the Hermits’ State Championship success in 2017 both in the Spring and Fall, Stephen has distinguished himself as an excellent Flanker and Second Row – especially as a jumper in the Lineouts. Later, Stephen would go on to be selected for the prestigious CRC 7’s tournament team and the NJ RCT All-State Team.
Serious about his physical fitness, Stephen sets a good example for younger players and regularly assists them in the weight room. Looking for new ways to expand his Rugby IQ, Stephen is a true student of the game and is only scratching the surface of his abilities.
Stephen will be attending Loyola University (Maryland) this Fall where he will play for Coach Matthew Cipriano. Stephen is also one of three scholar-athletes awarded “The Society of Loyola Old Boys Scholarship.”
Zachary “Pockets” DiDonato
Experience & Position(s): A two-year player, Zach has made great improvement in his game as a member of the Forward Pack at the Flanker Position. Never one to back down from contact, Zach is known for his toughness and readiness to support his teammates – he never backs down. His positive attitude is contagious and his hard work an inspiration to younger players.
Zach has both domestic and international experience having recently traveled to train and compete in Ireland and Scotland.
Next Fall Zach will attend Drexel University and plans to plan for Coach Mike Burch.
John “JD” George
Experience & Position(s): A rare four-year rugby player, JD has been part of the backbone of the Program since he first stepped on the field. Few players lay it on the line like JD who has demonstrated time and again what it means to be a true Hermit Leader, primarily in his role as the A-Side Fly Half and more recently at Center. Reliable, consistent, and a young man of tremendous character, JD embodies what every coach looks for in a player.
JD is skilled at both 7’s Rugby and 15’s, and is a three-time NJ State Champion (two in 7’s Rugby in 2015 & 2017 and one in 15’s in 2017). He is a two-time International Tour player traveling to Ireland and Scotland in 2016 and 2018, and two-time NJ All-Star team member in 2016 and 2017. In addition to these accolades, he has been part of the prestigious CRC 7’s squad for three years.
JD is attending Liberty University in the Fall where he plans to play Ice Hockey and Rugby.
Adam “Eight Ball” Paul
Experience & Position(s): Adam came to Hermit Rugby with a toughness and grit borne from years of experience within the Hermits Ice Hockey Program and made an easy transition. Starting his career at Hooker and later transitioning to Flanker, Adam has impressed his coaches as a player who is willing to do whatever it takes to make the team better.
Most recently Adam gained invaluable International Rugby experience by traveling with the Hermits on tour in Ireland & Scotland where he went toe to toe with some of the best U-19 players in the world!
Adam will be attending Stockton University in the Fall and is considering Rugby there under Coach Martin Howe.
Experience & Position(s): Coming to the Program with years of Hermits Soccer experience, Anthony has made his presence felt in the Backline at Inside Center over the past two seaons but especially so far this year. One of the most improved players on the team, Anthony provides a spark and energy to the Backline which, in turn, helps to trigger the best in those around him.
Dedicated and hard-working, Anthony can often be found working with younger players and helping newer players make the transition to rugby, much like he did. He is a quick study of the opposition which makes him invaluable on the field as he helps direct traffic both on attack and defense.
A part of the Spring 2017 NJ State Championship Team, Anthony also saw time playing in Ireland and Scotland during the Hermits recent International Tour. At the pace Anthony is playing this season, many more awards and accolades are expected!
Anthony will be attending the University of Maryland this Fall where he is considering playing rugby for Coach Jeff Soeken.
Devon “D-Matt” Matthews
Experience & Position(s): Some players walk on the field…but Devon ran on the field! Trying out Rugby 7’s last season, Devon excelled immediately and soon fell in love with the sport. Deciding to double-down on rugby and play in the Spring, Devon took his speed and skill at Winger and added it to an already impressive Backline. Probably one of NJ Rugby’s least favorite players to defend, Devon has a killer side-step and has broken his share of ankles.
A part of both 2017 NJ State Championship Teams (in 7’s and 15’s), Devon was named a NJ Rugby All-Star player and was named the Gold Division “Outstanding Athletic Achievement Award” last June. In addition to his domestic success, Devon distinguished himself overseas where he took the field in Ireland & Scotland on the Hermits’ recent International tour. Respected by his peers Devon’s leadership has been key to the Program’s success.
Devon has committed to play collegiate rugby at St. Joseph’s University where he will play for long-time friend of the Hermits, Coach Daniel “Shags” Yarusso.
Salvatore “Sal” Carfagno
Experience & Position(s): After years of Hermits Football experience Sal made it to the rugby pitch and hit the ground running right away! Very familiar with the game from his time as the team’s Manager in 2017, Sal began to distinguish himself at Flanker very quickly. Hard-hitting and quicker than people think, Sal brings an intensity to the Forward Pack and a Rugby IQ of a more seasoned player. Coach Towell believes Sal is only beginning to scratch the surface of his rugby potential and hopes to see him continue to play in college.
Sal will be attending Loyola University (Chicago) this Fall in the Pre-Medial Studies Department.
Experience & Position(s): One of the more scrappy players on the roster, Angelo has had to work hard every step of the way. Willing to put everything on the line for the team and his teammates, Angelo has led by example – spending time as a senior on both the A and B Sides, depending on what was needed. Inquisitive and curious, Angelo is always working on ways to improve his game, on the field, in the video room, in the weight room, and with questions after practice – Angelo has become a true student of the game.
Over the past two years Angelo has been a part of two NJ State Championship Teams in 2017 (both 7’s and 15’s) where he has been a member of the Backline, spending time at both Full back and Winger.
Angelo will be attending Mount St. Mary’s University this Fall where he plans to play for Coach Jay Myles.
Experience & Position(s): A rare four-year player known for his ability to adapt to the team’s needs, Luke has acted as a utility player with key success at both Hooker and Eight Man. Coaches and players alike have commented about his progress over the years and his determination to succeed is his greatest attribute.
Over his four years, Luke has seen it all and has played both Fall 7’s and Spring 15’s and has been a key part of the Program’s successes during that time.
Luke will attend the University of Dayton in the Fall where he is considering rugby under Coach Ryan Moeller.
Experience & Position(s): Itching to play rugby for some time, Matthew arrived his senior year fired up and ready to go. Having already had an impressive Hermits Football career, Matthew wanted to add Rugby to his repertoire and has made an immediate impact. Working his way to A-Side Loose Head Prop, Matt sees every match as an opportunity to represent the school he loves and revels in the opportunity to share the field with his own brother, Jack, playing alongside him.
In a short time, Matt has seen success in NJ and overseas, taking part in three matches in Ireland and Scotland this March. In Edinburgh, Matthew was chosen “Man of the Match” by the Dunfirmline RFC coaches where no one could believe he was a new player to the sport. After meeting players like Matt, the Scottish coaches commented, “God help us if these Americans continue to figure this game out!”
Matthew is committed to play collegiate football at Fairleigh Dickinson University this Fall and hopes to stay connected to rugby as often as possible.
Experience & Position(s): Sometimes considered the “quiet Compton”, Jack has made his presence increasingly felt this season as a first-year player alongside his brother, Matt. Jack has moved through the ranks quickly and has become an essential part of the Forward Pack, especially in the Second Row where Coach Conover relies on him in the Scrums and Lineouts.
Hard-hitting and hard-working, Jack lets his play do the talking and leads others by his example both on and off the field. Coach Towell hopes that Jack will continue to play rugby at the next level since he believed Jack’s game is only beginning.
Jack will be attending Loyola University (Maryland) this fall.
Albert “AJ” Giosa
Experience & Position(s): A two-year player who has seen time in both the Forward Pack and the Backline, AJ brings a versatility often unique in High School rugby. Not shy about contact, AJ can be counted on to do all the things his coaches need from the tackle, breakdown, rucks, and more. Used from everything as a jumper in lineouts to a Winger in the Backline, AJ can and does do it all. His fearlessness and passion for the team and his teammates make him ideal as an example for others and his genuine interest in the future development of younger players makes him invaluable to the coaching staff.
AJ is a two-time NJ State Champion, participating in both the Spring 15’s and Fal 7’s seasons and often acts as one of the team leaders.
AJ will be attending Drexel University in the Fall where he plans to play rugby for Coach Mike Burch.