The big-beef era in lacrosse at Forest Park High ended in glorious fashion yesterday at UMBC.
Huge senior defensemen Lonnie Smith (6 feet 1, 260 pounds), Eric Conaway (6-2, 340) and Raynard Bankins (5-8, 250) virtually shut down a frustrated Cardinal Gibbons team on the way to a 7-2 victory in the Maryland Scholastic Association B Conference championship game.
Smith and Conaway were especially tough on Gibbons attackman Keith Gucwa, who had trouble just getting off a shot.
Gucwa, who was the B Conference C. Markland Kelly award winner Wednesday night as the outstanding player in the conference, didn't have a goal or assist in the loss.
In contrast, sophomore Forest Park midfielder James Heath scored five goals with an array of blistering line-drive shots from approximately 15 yards.
During the Smith-Conaway-Bankins regime, the Forest Park lacrosse team racked up a 37-2 record and two straight conference titles.
The Foresters won the C Conference championship last season (14-0) and followed that up with yesterday's B Conference crown (10-1 record).
Maybe that's why Forest Park coach Obie Barnes found time to hug all three of his departing defensemen at some time following yesterday's game.
"In Lonnie Smith, we're losing probably one of the better defense
men in the area no matter what conference you're talking about," said Barnes. "For the past several years we've had big guys like Smith in lacrosse and football. But now there are no more big guys behind them. I don't know what I'm going to do in both sports."
Smith wept after the game as Barnes led a prayer for his players in the middle of the field.
An emotional Smith said: "I wanted to get respect for Forest Park lacrosse. I think we've gone unnoticed too long."
Gucwa and his Gibbons mates continuously tried to attack Smith and company from in front of the goal and it didn't work.
The Foresters will return Heath next season. He has speed and loads of potential, as does freshman goalie Jamine Dickerson, who registered 14 saves yesterday.