It's not an added burden, but something Severna Park's Jimmy Traylor has been preparing for in three varsity seasons.
It's his turn to lead, and Traylor, an All-County back and stopper as a junior on last year's state semifinalist team, is ready.
The three-year varsity starter, who coach Don Gregg says "is right up there with the best we've ever had," is co-captain on a very young team. He is one of just six seniors among six juniors, seven sophomores and one freshman.
Ranked 11th in the metro area, the Falcons are off to a 2-1 start, and Traylor's steady influence has been vital.
He was a likely choice to become a team leader and fill some big shoes. Last year's county Player of the Year, Scott Vane, now at Navy Prep school, was clearly that squad's leader, with help from All-Metro back Eric Lenfest.
"Jimmy was one of our leaders on the field last year," as well, said Gregg, "but we asked him before this year to pick it up as a leader off the field. So far, he and Kenny Macko [fellow senior co-captain] have done a great job, and it's been important to the younger players."
Vane made an impression on Traylor.
"I realize I have to get the other players to look up to me, make plays and make things happen," said Traylor. "Scott [Vane] was a real good captain and told me that I would have to stand up this year and show the team [I'm] the one to lead them."
Traylor backs up his role as a leader with his skills. Last season, playing stopper and defender most of the time, he still scored three goals and had five assists.
This season, Gregg has moved Traylor to midfield, where he can be the team's centerpiece.
"Coach Gregg is trying to get me to roam the field more, and I like it," said Traylor, a versatile, quick 6-foot-1, 145-pound senior.
The coach compares Traylor to one of the school and county's all-time greats, Henry Wagner, the 1981 county Player of the vTC Year, the first of eight Falcons to have the same honor. When Wagner was named to The Sun's All-Metro team in the same year, Gregg said of him: "He gave us leadership and always controlled the midfield."
Traylor has been charged with the same responsibilities and has responded favorably.
Traylor, said the coach, is "like Henry, who was a creator and outstanding dribbler. Henry is the best player to ever come out of here. I think Jimmy is the best player in the county -- he's improved every year since his freshman year.
"Jimmy's creating opportunities, and if I move him all the way up [to forward], I'm sure he could score more," said Gregg. "But he's too important where he is."
Gregg's only worry is Traylor talking to Tiger Woods, the phenom golfer.
"I told him not to go talking to Tiger Woods until after the season, because Jimmy is a very good golfer -- plays at Chartwell," said Gregg. "But he's been concentrating on soccer, and I think he can play Division I. He can definitely play Division II."
Traylor says he will visit a couple North Carolina schools in December and decide on his future.
Gregg's future is also bright with such a young and gifted team and another Traylor on the way, brother John, a freshman on the Falcons JV that is blowing opponents out.
Pub Date: 9/19/96