Head coach: Joshua Hixson, second season
Last season: 6-12
Key returners: GK Jason Mamrick (Jr.), MF Christian Neubert (Sr.), D Harland Stokes (Sr.), LSM Jacob Walters (Sr.)
Key newcomers: MF Evan Gray (Soph.), MF Noah Norrie (Soph.), D George Torres (Sr.), MF Mitch Weber (Soph.)
What to know: The Bulldogs perhaps understandably made a bumpy transition into Area 5-6/7A play last season, finishing last among nine teams, but second-year head coach Joshua Hixson brings back a more experienced roster with a strong group of senior leaders. That leadership will be paramount, as Central will be young at some positions. “I think this team has a lot of potential to be very good as we continue to progress throughout the year,” Hixson said.
Head coach: Rich Wehman, ninth season
Last season: 20-2, lost in Class 6-7A state championship
Key returners: MF Jonny DiVirgilio (Sr.), A Gerard Kane (Jr.), A Kyle Lewis (Sr.), D Donovan Lilly (Sr.), A Peyton Miller (Sr.), MF Benny O’Rourk (Jr.), MF Ryan Overbay (Jr.), GK Logan Steele (Sr.), GK Andrew Tippett (Jr.), MF Bradley Wehman (Sr.), GK Brendan Wehman (Jr.), FOGO Phil White (Sr.), D Zach Zeman (Sr.)
Key newcomers: LSM/D Patrick Deans (Soph.), MF Christian Rhoads (Jr.), D/MF Bryce Segat (Sr.)
What to know: The Longhorns must replace some elite talent off last season’s Class 6-7A state runner-up team, particularly defender Jaryd Jean-Felix, the 2017 Forsyth County News Boys Lacrosse Player of the Year, but they still return the majority that team, led by All-American and Naval Academy signee Jonny DiVirgilio.
Defense has been the team’s calling card the past two seasons, and the Longhorns have three experienced goalies it has confidence in, led by all-county selection Andrew Tippett. But the offense could be special this season with Kyle Lewis, Peyton Miller, Benny O’Rourk, Gerard Kane and Ryan Overbay all committed or signed to play in college.
Head coach: John Garrish, first season
Last season: 5-12
Key returners: D Reece Crook (Sr.), MF Mason Jolley (Sr.)
Key newcomers: A Anthony Herock (Soph.), A Jaiden Prosser (Soph.), MF Chris Smith (Soph.)
What to know: Former South Forsyth boys head coach John Garrish takes the helm at North. Garrish led South where his teams went 25-45 in four seasons from 2013-16. He has two college signees to look for leadership in middie Mason Jolley (Montevallo), who was second-team all-county last season, and defenseman Reece Crook (Furman). Garrish likes the group's team chemistry and confidence but is looking for more consistency and fewer unforced errors.
Head coach: Jamie Davidson, first season
Last season: 10-8
Key returners: D Stone Brown (Jr.), A Ryan DiFazio (Jr.), GK Drew Hendren (Jr.), D Nick Kelhofer (Jr.), MF Hogan Palmer (Jr.), MF David Stubbs (Jr.)
Key newcomers: MF Henry Borgerding (Fr.), MF Tony Novo (Fr.), MF Charlie Soukup (Fr.)
What to know: The Paladins were in position to make their first state playoff appearance last season but finished the season with six straight losses. Still it was the first winning season in program history. Head coach Pat Aiello then left for an assistant position at Buford, and Pinecrest hired former Lambert assistant Jamie Davidson. The bulk of his first team is made up of freshmen; the Paladins have just one senior, but there is an experienced junior class that’s especially strong on defense, led by goalie Drew Hendren. Those contrasting elements mean Pinecrest could be a team that makes marked improvements as the season progresses. “We have a group of boys that want to get better and are excited to improve and compete on the field,” Davidson said.
Head coach: Bob Hamley, second season
Last season: 13-5, lost in the Class 6-7A first round
Key returners: MF Max Kane (Jr.), A Colton Rudd (Jr.), GK Sean Snarey (Soph.)
Key newcomers: MF Zach Layne (Fr.), MF Michael McKenzie (Soph.)
What to know: The War Eagles followed their near-by rival, Lambert, and re-structured their program with a director of lacrosse last year, bringing in veteran professional coach Bob Hamley. The move worked, with South reaching the state playoffs for the first time in program history. Hamley built last season’s offense around Max Kane and Colton Rudd, both of whom return, and several freshmen could make an immediate impact. The War Eagles are confident in their chances of making a return to the state playoffs, but they’d feel better if they can improve their performance against the state’s elite programs.
Head coach: John Laden, sixth season
Last season: 17-4, lost in Class 6-7A state quarterfinals
Key returners: MF Josh Bell (Jr.), MF JR Brockman (Sr.), D James Grohovac (Sr.), GK Carson Smith (Sr.)
Key newcomers: MF Tiernan Pepple (Fr.)
What to know: The Wolverines are coming off their best season in program history, reaching the Class 6-7A state quarterfinals where they lost to eventual state champion Lassiter.
One of the top offensive teams in the state last season, West’s experience and leadership comes from the defense this season, led by all-county second team selection goalie Carson Smith. How well they replace leading scorer James Martelli, now at Young Harris, could decide how far this season’s team goes.