In 2019, when the Comets lost to Howard, 4-3, in the regional semifinals, Azbill played multiple defensive positions.
“He came in right away and made a difference for us as a freshman at Catonsville,” Schultz said. “We were able to play him in a bunch of different roles.”
The 2019 Comets boasted a pair of All-County first team players in junior close defender Gunnar Cheuvront (Loyola University Maryland) and senior goalie Ian Callanan (York, Pa.).
“The long poles were really good, we had John Sanick, Wyatt Gentner and Evan Rogers,” said Schultz, citing the juniors, who were all deprived of their senior season because Covid-19 forced the cancellation of the 2020 season. Azbill had no problem getting playing time with all the veterans.
“Azbill was able to plug and play anywhere, long-stick middie, short stick defensive middie and close defense,” Schultz said.
The coach knows the chemistry will be good between Azbill and Ruppel.
“Him and Ruppel have been together for a long time,” Schultz said. “Their families are close. I have a picture of them when they were young bucks at the Prime Time Lacrosse Camp.”
Azbill, Ruppel and Comet classmate Chris Huppman also played for the Maryland Roughriders 2022 club lacrosse team over the summer and they participated in five or six tournaments.
In addition, Azbill made the all-star team in the Mainstage Lacrosse Showcase for 2022 and for the past two years he has made the Under Armour All-America Lacrosse teams.
He was on the team for rising freshman and sophomores in 2019 and as a rising junior on the 2020 team.
Schultz knew speed was one of his assets, but he has seen him grow in other ways.
“James is very, very fast and his sophomore year, he decided to play football in the fall and coach (Jaren) Maybin and that staff really helped him to continue to build his physicality and he fell in love with the weight room,” Schultz said. “He’s made himself a really physical defender and he’s really tough.”
Even after Azbill broke his thumb playing football, he continued to hit the weight room.
“He is just a really tough kid and he doesn’t shy away from contact, he will just keep going,” Schultz said.
The strength and speed also makes him impressive in the clearing game. "
“It’s cool to get them both commit early and have them get so much attention from college coaches,” Schultz said. “Now, the fun starts, you get the commitment out of the way and now we can focus on getting as good as possible.”