Wilkes-Barre Breakers Rugby Football Club est. 1973
2017 Recap 2018 Outlook by KC Wellard
In what started as a rebuilding year, the 2017 fall season was very kind to the Wilkes Barre Breakers RFC. After losing several star players and veteran teammates to injuries and the natural changing of faces, the Breakers rallied to put together a successful team season. Led by a strong forward pack and a cohesive back line, supplemented with a few versatile impact subs, the Breakers used Coach Jack's teachings to finish the season with six wins and one loss. Wilkes Barre opened with a pair of solid wins against Blackthorn and Media, followed by a nail biter against the Northeast Irish, won by a Deric Grohowski try with no time to spare. After a forty point win against Media, the Breakers faced rival Reading, coming up short at their field before avenging the loss in front of the home crowd at Kirby Park in back-to-back slug fests. Ending the season with a win at Blackthorn, Wilkes Barre now has the playoffs in mind.
The Breakers unit received many contributions from its veteran players. 8-man/hook/prop JB Mullholand led the team with five tries, while lock Dom Disabitino, flyhalf Shawn Sabalesky, prop Nathan Myers, flanker/wing Stephen "Man Child" Turner, and fullback Ryan "Yellowshirt" Gajdowski each racked up three. Yellowshirt also tallied seventeen conversions and seven successful penalty kicks with his legendary boot, totaling a team leading sixty points. In addition, other veterans continued to make their presence felt. Prop "Big Jim" Andruskiewicz and lock Broc Wenrich joined with Disabitino and Myers to power a dominant scrum that has become a signature for the Breakers led by captain and hook Ty Freas. Freas was also able to constantly find Sabalesky in the line outs. Captain Ian Bukowski maintained his role as field general and game manager from the scrum-half spot, swinging the ball to center Steve Grizzle and wing Jamel Sealey who kept racking up carries and meters gained with Yellowshirt lurking at fullback. Turner and flanker Jeremy Mitkowski continually harassed ball carriers to lead a Breakers defense that was tough on ball-carriers and stout on the goal line.
In the spirit of the "next man up" cliche, Wilkes Barre also profited from having several players who contributed from new positions, as well as rookies and subs who saw extended playing time. Veteran Tony VanScoy moved from his fly-half spot to start two games in the second row and one at center, while Sabalesky came out of the pack to take over at the fly. Another second row, college student Nick Levandowski, performed well as the third horse in the stable and a spot starter after moving in from the back line, while new forward Zack Ellis rotated around the pack playing lock, flanker, or 8-man as needed. Rookie Kris Opeil also emerged as a solid impact sub and starter at the 8-man, and utility sub K.C. Wellard found a niche as a second-half flank. Along with Sabalesky the back line saw the addition of Grohowski, who went from a wing-by-default to a depth forward to starting all but one game at outside center, and rookie Tom "Ferg" Ferguson who earned time and starts on the wing. The team saw its fair share of Zulu warriors, or first time try scorers for the Breakers. The Zulu warriors included Grohowski (for his game winner) and Levandowski, as well as rookie scorers including Ferguson, prop Nick Levy, and center John "Badger" Prezzia.
The Breakers of Wilkes Barre look forward to the upcoming season and the playoff tournaments. With the aforementioned talent being molded and directed by the finest rugby mind in team history, the Breakers are excited, confident, and always looking for hungry rookies to join the cause. Wilkes Barre kicks off its spring season at Lehigh Valley on March 17th and will return home to Kirby Park on April 7th to face the Irish in a league rematch before the playoffs begin. Want to try something new and test your metal, or just take in an exhibition of the finest sport on Earth? The spring is coming and the Breakers are waiting.