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BOYS LACROSSE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jaryd Jean-Felix, Lambert
Lambert senior led new-look defensive unit to another stellar season
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Lambert senior defender Jaryd Jean-Felix is the 2017 Forsyth County News Boys Lacrosse Player of the Year. - photo by Brian Paglia

Jaryd Jean-Felix is trying to move on.

He’s succeeding, generally, but he hasn’t quite forgotten the unfortunate end to his otherwise fantastically successful career at Lambert – a 10-5 loss to Lassiter in this year’s boys lacrosse state championship game, which denied the Longhorns a second straight state title.

“That’s kind of what comes up in my mind when I think about this season,” Jean-Felix said. “Kind of sucks, but we did have a lot of success over four years.”

And apart from its conclusion, 2017 was another stellar entry in Jean-Felix’s high school career. He shifted from long-stick midfielder to defense, and that unit scarcely missed a beat, despite losing all three starters from 2016. The Longhorns gave up double-digit goal totals just three times: Against national power Calvert Hall, against Class 1A-5A runner-up Lovett and in their title game loss.

Jean-Felix, the third of his siblings to star at Lambert and play Division I athletics, gave the Longhorns an uncommon presence with his combination of agility and strength. He would stick on an opposing team’s best offensive player, allowing the Longhorns to focus less on rotating and helping and freeing up the rest of the players in the defensive half.

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Lambert senior Jaryd Jean-Felix defends a Centennial player during the 2017 season. - photo by Micah Green

“If my guy dodges me one-on-one, he doesn’t beat me very often,” Jean-Felix said.

Sometimes, the best thing for a defender to be is invisible – if you never get beat, they might not notice that you’re on the field. Jean-Felix didn’t play like that, though: He was well-known for the crunching hits he’d dish out.

Jean-Felix did so enthusiastic ally: In the third quarter of the state championship game, he ran over a Lassiter midfielder and was penalized for an illegal hit, which led to lusty boos from the Trojans’ student section and likely contributed to a benches-clearing brawl between the two teams in the fourth quarter.

“I hit him pretty hard, but they overreacted,” Jean-Felix said. “So yeah, I don’t regret it at all.”

Jean-Felix is set to play lacrosse at Rutgers, a program that was ranked No. 1 in the country at one point in 2017 and finished the season at 10-4. He was recruited as a long-stick midfielder, but he isn’t sure whether he’ll play that position or defense in college.

He also isn’t sure whether lacrosse is the only sport he’ll play. Jean-Felix, who suited up as a safety for Lambert’s football team, received some interest from Division I football programs after a strong senior season. He’s talked with Rutgers’ coaches about playing that position, though he might have to walk on.

As of now, Jean-Felix hasn’t decided if he’ll play football, but focusing on college has been his primary strategy to avoid thinking about how his last lacrosse season ended.

“I think (that) slowly, I’m starting to cope with it pretty well,” Jean-Felix said. “It’s kind of fine now.”