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Sophomore Worthing helps Kiski Area rugby to state playoffs

| Saturday, May 10, 2014, 11:25 p.m.

From the time he first stepped on the field for a Kiski Valley practice, Tyler Worthing knew rugby was for him. Even though things got a little messy.

Worthing emerged from a jagged pile of flying elbows and skinned knees with a smile on his face.

“I had a big bloody nose,” he said. “I had a gash in my forehead. They threw me in there to see how I would react. I loved it. Blood is a good thing.”

Worthing, a sophomore at Kiski Area, knows all about blood as a standout wrestler. But rugby gives him a different kind of adrenaline rush.

The 5-foot-9, 200-pounder seems like a natural fit for his new sport. Playing the prop position, he leads the Titans' Division II club team with 75 total points and 15 tries.

He's led the second-year Kiski Valley team (7-2) to its first trip to the state playoffs. The Titans face the Warwick Swarm at 1 p.m. Sunday at Founders Field in Harmar.

Worthing was intrigued by the sport after his friends and classmates kept asking him to play. He attended a friendly match against Burrell and was hooked instantly.

“I just saw it was high intensity, and that's what I'm all about,” he said. “I had to get out there. “I'm hoping to be a part of the first state championship team after the next couple of weeks.”

When he began playing, it took some time to get used to the rules — rules like not being able to lift a player up when making a tackle and not being able to stiff arm or use his elbows when running the ball.

“I just do it the barbaric way and tackle some people and run the ball.”

Kiski Valley coach Seth Erwin didn't know what to expect from Worthing but quickly was convinced.

“At first, when he got there, I was like, ‘Who is this is this big muscle kid?' ” Erwin said. “You could tell by the first practice he was going to be a good player. He has the things you can't coach like aggression and giving contact or taking contact.”

D.J. Vasil is a freelance writer.

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