Boys' Latin grad Shack Stanwick watched two of his older brothers play in the summer lacrosse game that has developed into the country's premier showcase of the top high school seniors, always looking forward to the day he may get on the same field.
Brinton Valis, who just graduated from McDonogh, recalls checking out the game on television when he was younger, the teams wearing simple red and white jerseys instead of the flashy electric colors they sport these days.
What most impressed Stanwick's classmate, Tal Bruno, when he tuned in to the Under Armour All-America Lacrosse Classic a couple years ago was how all the country's finest players displayed different styles yet still meshed.
Stanwick, Valis and Bruno are key components to Johns Hopkins' incoming freshmen lacrosse class. But, first, the trio will head to Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium on Saturday and represent the South team in the Classic's ninth edition. The game, set for 5 p.m., will be shown on ESPNU.
Bruno, who broke his collarbone playing for his club team, the Baltimore Crabs, in a tournament two weekends ago in Vail, Colo., will have to support the team from the sidelines. He'll be out six to eight weeks following surgery.
Stanwick, who was named The Sun's All-Metro Player of the Year and its Male Athlete of the Year, said playing in the summer's showcase game is the perfect ending to his sensational high school career. In the spring, he led the No. 1 Lakers to an 18-0 mark and the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship, finishing his four years as the program's all-time leading scorer.
"Coming off the season we had at Boys' Latin and then to be able to go out there and play with the best players in the country for one night is definitely going to be cool," he said. "I'm just going to try to enjoy it, go out and play my hardest and try to play well."
The South squad, which beat the North, 28-24, last year in the Classic's highest scoring game, could enjoy another scoring splurge this year. The familiarity Stanwick, an attackman, and Valis, a midfielder, have with each other could play a big role.
Both players, along with Bruno, have played together for the Crabs since eighth grade. All three committed to Johns Hopkins during their sophomore years.
"I've gotten pretty close to those guys in recent years and just getting the chance to play with them at the next level is an awesome opportunity," Valis said. "I know their tendencies and we have gelled well. It's pretty cool to get to play in this game and I'm really looking forward to the next four years with those guys."
Saturday's game will be a primer for the high expectations at Hopkins' Homewood Field in the coming years. Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala sees a number of standout qualities in all three players.
"The big part about all three of them is yeah they're talented players, but I think they're all coachable and I think they're all very good young men and we hope they have wonderful careers for us," he said.
Hopkins also is adding Boys' Latin faceoff specialist Hunter Moreland and Hereford goalie Brock Turnbaugh to their team next season. Both were All-Metro first-team selections last season.
"I think we have a talented class, but, more importantly, I know we're all good guys in general," Valis said. "I really enjoy being around those guys. And it's not always talent, but how well you play together. I think we can have something special down the road."
A taste of what to come at Hopkins comes on Saturday.
"It's cool to get the chance to play in this game together and I'm glad I can spend some more time with them. It's something we'll always remember," Stanwick said.
Under Armour All-America Lacrosse Classic
Time: Boys at 5 p.m.; girls at 7:30 p.m.
Location: Johnny Unitas Stadium, Towson University
TV: Boys game on ESPNU
Tickets and more information: UnderArmourLacrosse.comCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun