SHELTON — Thanks to rugby, Shelton High School linebacker Brian Nault has found a way to work on his tackling skills year-round.
In March, months after the Highclimbers finished 7-3 for their best season since 2007, Nault earned a spot on USA Rugby’s High School All-America squad. The honor also involved a two-week trip to London to face international competition.
“The greatest experience of my life,” said Nault, a member of the Shelton Rugby Club.
Nault also was one of 50 high school athletes selected from around the nation to play in the Stars vs. Stripes All-America game in July in Greeley, Colo. He was named a co-captain.
The position he plays in 8-man rugby is similar to playing linebacker in football. He said those skills transfer to both sports.
“You have to take control and have good field awareness and be good at tackling,” said Nault, a three-year rugby player and an all-3A Narrows League football second-team pick as an offensive guard in 2012. “I take both skills from both sports and use them to my advantage.”
Nault, a junior, is one of three players who have started on the varsity since their freshman year for longtime Shelton coach Matt Hinkle. Nault started at linebacker as a freshman and played guard and linebacker last season.
“He isn’t bashful about contact,” Hinkle said.
While Nault will stay at middle linebacker on defense, he is switching positions on offense. Hinkle praised Nault’s athleticism at guard, which is why he’s moving him to tight end, a spot previously held by David Ajamu, whose breakout senior season led to a scholarship from the University of Washington.
“We have no doubt he can do the job (at tight end),” Hinkle said. “He’s the best pulling guard we’ve had in a long time, but if you can’t secure the strong side, then pulling the guard is a moot point.”
Predictably, Nault is ready to tackle the new challenge.
“When the time comes,” Nault said, “I’ll be ready.”
ABOUT THE HIGHCLIMBERS
Coach: Matt Hinkle, 20th year
2012: 7-3, third in 3A Narrows; advanced to Week 10 district crossover game
Offense: Coordinator (set) — Cary Nagel (multiple); returning starters — 4
Top players: WR Michael Sobotka, 5-11, 185, sr.; WR Jesse Danford, 5-11, 180, sr.; OL Hunter Ostenson, 5-11, 255, sr.; OL Brandon Blakley, 6-1, 280, jr.; RB Jake Henry, 5-11, 185, jr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) — Hinkle (4-2); returning starters — 6
Top players: LB Brian Nault, 6-1, 210, jr.; DB Thomas Lanphear, 5-11, 180, sr.; DB Colton Hubble, 6-0, 175, sr.; LB Gordon Henry, 5-11, 190, sr.; LB Rudy Mackiewicz, 6-0, 185, sr.
Outlook: Defense is the Highclimbers’ strong point, as they look to keep their winning rhythm going. ... Hubble had a team-best five interceptions in 2012, when the Highclimbers had their first winning record since ’07. ... It’s tough to replace a running back (Ralph Kinne) who set school records for most yards rushing in a game (359) and season (2,389), but Hinkle will turn to Henry.
All games at 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 6 – at Tumwater
Friday, Sept. 13 – NORTH MASON
Friday, Sept. 20 – at Wilson *
Friday, Sept. 27 – YELM
Friday, Oct. 4 – at Foss *
Friday, Oct. 11 – LINCOLN *
Thursday, Oct. 17 – at North Thurston *
Friday, Oct. 25 – MOUNT TAHOMA *
Friday, Nov. 1 – TIMBERLINE *Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 firstname.lastname@example.org theolympian.com/southsoundsports @MegWochnick * 3A Narrows League game; home games in CAPS email@example.com