Storer Classic Brings Cal University System Teams To UCLA

Storer Classic Brings Cal University System Teams To UCLA

The Storer Classic is a long-standing season-opener, and Cal, UCLA, and UC Davis top the bill.

Jan 11, 2018 by Alex Goff
Storer Classic Brings Cal University System Teams To UCLA

UCLA hosts the Storer Classic this weekend, and it's a tournament that gives fans a first look at the 15s lineups for the host Bruins and their great rivals, Cal.

Started in 2005 as a Pac-12 universities event, the Storer Classic — named for former UCLA and USA head coach Dennis Storer, who died in 2007— is now a tournament for teams from the University of California system.

On Saturday and Sunday, six teams from that system — Cal, UCLA, UC Davis, UC San Diego, UC Santa Cruz, and UC Irvine — will duke it out on the grounds of UCLA. For UC Davis, this is not its first 15s outing of the year. 


The Aggies beat Central Washington 33-14 last Friday. And while the CWU lineup may not have been the Wildcats' most experienced, the victory was still an impressive one for Davis.

Davis is expected to welcome Ari Wargon back for this weekend — he was unable to play against CWU — and that will only bolster a talented, hard-hitting but somewhat un-deep UCD team.


Cal has won the Storer Classic every year that it has been held, and the Bears often use the tournament to blood some younger players before meeting up with UCLA in the final game.

"It's the same old story, with some really fine players and team leaders graduating, leaving us to rebuild the team," Cal head coach Jack Clark said. "We have some talented underclassmen that might be called upon early, and our most experienced returners will undoubtedly need to show the way."

Those returners include a solid front row of All-American Kevin Sullivan, fellow prop Damon Wiley, and hooker Wade Ogburn. The tight five is pretty stacked at Cal, and with associate head coach Tom Billups (44 caps for the USA at hooker) and assistant coach Mike MacDonald (67 caps at prop) working with those players, you know the Bears will be strong. 

Seniors Henry Baylor and Brian Joyce, and junior Jack Iscaro are part of a very talented group of front-rowers that also includes three freshmen to watch: Jack Manzo (Xavier High School, NY), Daniyal Magomedov (Harrow Schoo, England), and Isaia Taotua (Danville Oaks, CA).

The depth isn't as strong in other positions. At lock, Cal graduated All-American Connor Sweet and Robert Paylor suffered a catastrophic injury. So there are several players vying for a No. 4 or No. 5 jersey, including former High School All-American Chase Bixby and several sophomores and freshmen.

At back row Thomas Spradling and Nic Mirhashem combine with Thomas Robles for one of the more skilful and savvy back rows in the college game,

Among a strong freshman group is High School All-American Garrett Kay (Jesuit), and Blake Richards-Smith (Torrey Pines).

New faces are everywhere in the backs. Look for sophomore Keanue Andrade to lead the scrumhalf group - he's now more like a veteran despite being only a second-year player. Youngsters such as Christian Dyer, Desi Streater, Kevin Saunders, and more, will get playing time. Aidan Flynn and Elliot Webb provide veteran leadership. Out wide it's a senior, Jake Goena, and a sophomore try-scoring sensation, Sam Cusano (like Bixby and Streater, from the Granite Bay program). Cal has all sorts of options at fullback but will likely lean on Flynn.


For UCLA, last year was a season of injuries and below-standard performances. Injury still haunts the Bruins, as Niall Barry remains sidelined. The experienced All-American has been helping head coach Scott Stewart with the coaching.

That's been a boost to UCLA, and another has been the emergence of Cian Barry, Niall's brother, who's stepped up as a leader with his superb play. It was Cian who captained the UCLA sevens team and did an outstanding job. Also, James Francis has stretched himself into a leadership role.

"We're excited about playing this weekend and this year this group is very athletic, enthusiastic, and they're good players," Stewart said. "We'll see where we stand when we get out there, but we've definitely improve."

Patrick Regan has shown well in the early going, and High School All-American freshman Eric Naposki could have a chance to break out. 

Storer Classic Schedule

All Times Pacific

Saturday, Jan. 13 (all games shortened)

9 AM — UCLA vs. UC San Diego

9:50 AM — UC Davis vs. UC Irvine

10:40 AM — Cal vs. UC Santa Cruz

11:30 AM — UCLA vs. UC Irvine

12:20 PM — Cal vs. UC Davis

1:10 PM — UC Santa Cruz vs. UC San Diego

2 PM — UCLA vs. UC Davis

2:50 PM — Cal vs. UC San Diego

3:40 PM — UC Santa Cruz vs. UC Irvine

Sunday, Jan 14

10 AM — UC Santa Cruz vs. UC Davis

1:30 PM — Cal vs. UCLA