Coach: Josh Smith, second season.
Last season: 5-10.
Key returners: MF Josh Allen, Jr.; MF Wes Bacastow, Sr.; LSM Damian Clapp, Jr.; GK Cohen Holton; MF Christian Neubert, Soph.
Key newcomers: GK Jason Mamrick; LSM Parker Wilson, Soph.
Outlook: Second-year head coach Josh Smith says he can feel the “club sport” atmosphere that he saw in the program when he was hired beginning to diminish. “They want to compete at a higher level and not just ‘play’ lacrosse,” Smith said, and he sees the improvements most notably in the team’s lacrosse IQ. With 22 new players to the program, depth is better, particularly at goalie with Holton and Mamrick. Smith expects the team’s defense, led by Clapp, to improve too. There’s still plenty of work to be done with a new faceoff specialist and experience to gain for an overall young team, but Smith expects the Bulldogs to push for their first winning record in program history. “I don’t like losing,” Smith said. “I think my guys are on that path as well.”
Coach: Rich Wehman, seventh season.
Last season: 16-3, lost in Class AAAAAA first round.
Key returners: FOGO Trey Arnold, Sr.; Hayden Barnes, Sr.; D Brady Berman, Sr.; MF Johnny DiVirgilio, Soph.; D Justyn Jean-Felix, Sr.; Jaryd Jean-Felix, Jr.; A Conrad McEvoy, Sr.; MF Matt O’Rourk, Sr.; MF Eric Overbay, Jr.; D Chris Price, Sr.; GK Ben Stump, Sr.
Key newcomers: MF Jake Alesia, Jr.; MF Ryan Overbay, Fr.
Outlook: This Longhorns team is being billed as potentially the best in school history, what with eight seniors signed to play for Division I schools. Arnold, a Robert Morris signee, gives Lambert an all-state player at faceoff. O’Rourk, an Air Force signee, gives Lambert an all-American scorer (33G) to go along with Barnes, Overbay and DiVirgilio. Jean-Felix brothers Justyn (Mercer) and Jaryd (Rutgers) combine with Berman (Mercer) and Price (High Point) for a formidable defense. Stump is a first-year starter at goalie but obviously has the talent; he signed with VMI. No surprise then that Lambert is ranked No. 3 in the entire Southeast by TopLaxRecruits.com. So the biggest concern is the players’ focus: do they buy into their own hype or do they concentrate on becoming the team people seem to think they can become?
Coach: Don Hilton, third season.
Last season: 8-9.
Key returners: A Tucker Brady, Jr.; MF Chase Chapman, Jr.; MF Tucker Davis, Jr.; GK Jacob Day, Jr.; FOGO/MF Shaun Herock, Jr.; MF Mason Jolley, Soph.
Key newcomers: D Reece Crook, Soph.; A Sam Grogan, Soph.; D Quinn Lewis, Soph.; D Colin O’Connor, Sr.; A Colton Rudd, Fr.; A Evan Smith, Soph.; D Rob Tuttle, Jr.
Outlook: North third-year coach Don Hilton has an experienced team overall, and so he likes the cohesiveness it has exhibited early on in practices, particularly on offense, led by Jacksonville commit and junior Chase Chapman who was a first-team all-county selection last season with 35 goals and 39 assists. Jacob Day also gives the Raiders an experienced goalie after starting last season as a sophomore. But North is counting on a host of new contributors on defense including several underclassmen.
Coach: Pat Aiello, second season.
Last season: 3-11.
Key returners: A Jack Binkley, Jr.; MF Wills Brown, Jr.; MF Carson Holler, Jr.; D Stephen Morrissey, Jr.; GK Garrison Winter, Jr.
Key newcomers: LSM Stone Brown, Fr.; MF David Stubbs, Fr.
Outlook: Last season, the Paladins’ first as a varsity program, was naturally one for the building blocks. A team of mostly freshmen and sophomores are now a year older, so experience shouldn’t be as much of an issue this season. Stephen Morrissey, a second-team all-county selection, anchors the defense, while Garrison Winter (also second-team all-county) is a capable of goalie. The Paladins need more on offense if they want to get more competitive, but Aiello is optimistic with that unit too. “All around we have a great group of hard workers,” Aiello said, “and our first practices have shown a lot of promise and potential.”
Coach: John Garrish, fourth season.
Last season: 6-12.
Key returners: GK Ike Forrester, Sr.; A Kyle Frederiksen, Sr.; D Brennan McCrum, Sr.; MF Drew Thomson, Sr.
Key newcomers: MF Reed Farnen, Jr.; MF Kyle Guenter, Jr.; A Andrew Lempner, Jr.; D Cole Wheeler, Jr.
Outlook: Fourth-year head coach John Garrish brands this team as still on the younger side but still talented. Goalie Ike Forrester and midfielder Drew Thomson were second-team all-county selections last season. Attack Kyle Frederiksen is a three-year starter, defender Brennan McCrum is a two-year starter. So Garrish will be looking to see how this team handles pressure situations, something it didn’t thrive in last season. “We’re looking forward to seeing some of that youth come into their own and see what they can do,” Garrish said.
Coach: John Laden, fourth season
Last season: 6-10.
Key returners: MF Reed Bagwell, Sr.; D Erik Hipe, Sr.; A Justin Kabo, Sr.; GK Carson Smith, Soph.
Key newcomers: MF Josh Bell, Fr.
Outlook: Fourth-year head coach John Laden has one of the more experienced offenses in the county. Middie Reed Bagwell, a Jacksonville signee, and attack Justin Kabo (Young Harris) were first team all-county selections last season. Bagwell had 37 goals and 22 assists, while Kabo had 24 and 28, respectively. Outside of those two, though, the Wolverines are looking for others to step up, particularly to help senior defender Erik Hipe and sophomore goalie Carson Smith on defense.