The 1997 boys lacrosse season brings with it lots of change -- four new head coaches, two new teams and two new rules.
And it also offers a familiar challenge -- a new chance for the rest of the county to chase down perennial champion Mount Hebron.
The coaching changes are certainly the biggest story this season.
Mount Hebron's all-star caliber coach, Warren Michael, who missed most of last season because of a back operation, has been replaced by Jeff Doolan, a Vikings assistant last season.
Michael now teaches at Centennial and is not coaching high school lacrosse. During his nine seasons, Mount Hebron was 111-32, with seven regional, six county and two state (1988, 1991) titles. The Vikings lost in the state finals in 1992, 1995 and 1996.
Doolan, 23, a Westminster native, is one year out of Salisbury State, where he played lacrosse. He's a physical education teacher at Wilde Lake Middle School.
He'll have six returning starters to work with, including All-County defensemen Mike Machiran and Mike Stromberg. Mount Hebron was 14-3 last spring.
"So far, everyone likes him, and he's doing a good job," Stromberg said. "We're doing a lot more conditioning this year, because we're short of players at midfield and need to be in top shape. But our defense is solid, and our attack looks pretty good. We'll get better as the season progresses and should have a shot at winning the state tournament."
Mount Hebron's only losses last season were to St. Alban's, Broadneck and Gilman -- all top-notch teams.
Another former Mount Hebron assistant coach, Tom Minard, is the new head coach at first-year Long Reach. The Lightning social studies teacher played lacrosse for Wilde Lake in 1983 before playing football at Shepherd College. He was assistant lacrosse coach for two years at Wilde Lake and last year at Mount Hebron.
Wilde Lake's new head coach is a former Centennial player, 25-year-old Dan Forester. He was a Wildecats assistant lacrosse coach to Mike Harrison last season, and JV coach for two seasons at Wilde Lake. Forester played lacrosse at Ithaca (N.Y.) College, which went to the NCAA tournament twice during his career.
Jay Bond moves from assistant coach at Howard last season to head coach at River Hill, where that first-year team expects to make some noise with first-team All-County attackman Beau Pich.
Bond, a history teacher who played at Friends and Johns Hopkins and was assistant coach for defense at St. Paul's for nine seasons, brings an impressive resume to River Hill. And his assistant coach, John Kenworthy, was an All-American at Maryland in 1965.
Kenworthy's two sons, Scott and Chris, play for River Hill. He is one of several former All-Americans coaching in Howard County, including Atholton head coach Wendell Thomas (Towson), Centennial head coach Mike Siegert (Hopkins), Glenelg Country School head coach Kevin Boland (Hopkins) and Glenelg Country School assistant coach Tom Marechek (Syracuse).
Marechek, 27, played with the famous Paul and Gary Gait brothers at Syracuse and is now a star player for the Philadelphia Wings indoor lacrosse team. He's part of the Dragons' staff, which includes Jim Dietsch, former Maryland assistant coach during the Buddy Beardmore era that produced two national champions in the 1970s.
"He [Dietsch] was my assistant coach when I played at Maryland, and his son is in Glenelg Country Middle School," said Boland, whose own son, Kevin Jr., was a hotly recruited freshman playing for Gilman.
Kenworthy doesn't think that All-American status automatically makes you a great coach.
"But kids are more willing to listen to someone who was an All- American," he said. "It makes communication easier."
Kenworthy is most impressed by the Glenelg Country coaching staff.
"That's quite a cadre of coaches. We scrimmaged them, and our kids were all talking about how impressed they were with Marechek."
Howard, coached by Maryland State Lacrosse Coaches Association representative Glenn Lentz, also has an impressive new assistant coach in Jeff Wills, a former Hopkins attackman who now plays for the Baltimore Thunder pro team and the Green Turtle club team.
"This is my first coaching job," Wills said. "I want to see how I like it." He's hoping to help reverse Howard's winless record last season.
Two new rules involve clearing and substitution and will bring the high school game in line with college rules that are aimed at speeding up the game.
One, a 10-second clearing rule, gives teams 10 seconds to get the ball from the defensive restraining line to midfield, and another 10 seconds to take it from midfield to the offensive box. The ball can be passed back on offense.
The other new rule does not allow substitutions when the ball goes out of bounds on the end line -- only when the ball goes out of bounds on the side line.
"The old rule allowed you to get more players into the game," Centennial coach Siegert said. "The old rule allowed you to develop players. The 10-second rule will make it harder to get subs into the game because a lot of lesser skilled teams will use the old Gilman clear -- throwing it as far as they can to the other side. We'll have to sub on the fly."
Mount Hebron's Stromberg, who is being recruited by several big-time colleges, said he likes the 10-second rule. Such a rule might have meant a state title for Mount Hebron last season, instead of a double-overtime loss to Broadneck.
"Broadneck sat back last year and stalled the fourth quarter, and this rule won't let them do that," Stromberg said. "It will also get you ready for college play."
Boys lacrosse, preseason poll
1. Boys' Latin
2. St. Mary's
3. Calvert Hall
7. St. Paul's
8. Mount Hebron
11. Severna Park
13. Mount St. Joseph
Others considered: John Carroll, Arundel, Catonsville, Annapolis The boys preseason lacrosse poll was picked by The Sun staff.
Pub Date: 3/20/97