Loyola's Steele Stanwick knows a little something about excelling in varsity sports.
The senior was a starting forward on the soccer team, helping it reach the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference semifinals. And he was the point guard for the basketball team that qualified for the A Conference playoffs this season.
Stanwick stands out the most, however, when he has a lacrosse stick in his hands. The Virginia-bound attackman is perhaps the best player in the metro area and one of the top players in the country.
So where do all of these athletic gifts come from? Hours in the weight room? Training year-round?
"Honestly, I think I got real lucky," Stanwick said of his athletic prowess. "My mom's dad was pretty athletic; he played basketball and tennis at Georgetown. Maybe I got some of those genes."
Indeed, Steele is part of a long line of Stanwicks who have made their marks in lacrosse.
Stanwick is one of eight children. His three older sisters -- Sheehan, Wick and Coco -- starred at Notre Dame Prep and played at Georgetown University. His older brother, Tad, played at Boys' Latin before moving on to Rutgers. His younger brother, Wells, is penciled in to start for the Lakers this year.
All of the Stanwicks are attackmen and attackers. Steele has been starting for Loyola since he was a freshman, and last season, he recorded 37 goals and 35 assists, led Loyola to the MIAA A Conference championship and was named All-Metro Player of the Year. He has 86 goals and 74 assists in his high school career.
"He does everything well. Everything," Calvert Hall coach Bryan Kelly said. "He's the equivalent of a five-tool player in baseball. He's got incredible vision, he can score, he can feed. He just has a cool, calming presence, and he's the quarterback of their offense."
He showed his knack for stepping up in the biggest moments last season during the A Conference championship game. He had four goals and four assists in a 10-6 victory over Boys' Latin, giving Loyola its first conference crown since 2001.
"Anytime the ball is in Steele's hands, they can do something," Boys' Latin coach Bob Shriver said. "He is just an outstanding player."
With an MIAA crown under his belt and a full ride to one of the best collegiate lacrosse schools in the nation waiting, what exactly does Stanwick have left to prove?
A lot, actually.
"One more championship would be a huge exclamation point for me and everyone on this team," Stanwick said. "I'm not exactly sure when the last team to repeat was, but I think it's like 13 years or something. I think it would be cool to be the first team to repeat in a while. It's a long-term goal, but it's my senior year and I want to leave a good mark."
The last team to repeat as conference champion was Gilman in 1995.
Stanwick will leave his mark on the Loyola program even if he's not able to lead the Dons to another title. In addition to being one of the best players every time he steps on the field, it's his demeanor during games that helps calm his teammates and allows the team to play at a high level.
"I think one of the things that people don't realize and don't see is he's a very good leader," Loyola coach Jack Crawford said. "His physical attributes are obvious, but he understands the game and is good at communicating to guys what to do in specific situations. He's a very calming influence to younger guys."
The Dons will certainly need that influence in a league that is one of the toughest in the country. Add in the fact that Loyola is ranked No. 1 in The Sun and was picked as the No. 1 high school boys lacrosse team in the country on insidelacrosse.com's preseason poll, and it's clear that there will be no shortage of pressure on the Dons.
"It kind of goes both ways," Stanwick said. "It's awesome to receive that recognition around the nation, but at the same time, it's almost a burden because you do have that big target on your back. You do the best you can and just try to put it in the back of your mind."
With so much on his plate -- from multiple sports, a chance to help his team repeat and a collegiate lacrosse career on the horizon -- Stanwick still has time to cherish his career playing for the royal blue and gold.
"There have been a lot of great players that have went through Loyola Blakefield, and it would definitely be nice to be remembered," Stanwick said. "But ultimately, it's not about that. I realize how lucky I've been to go to a school like Loyola and have the opportunity to play three sports.
"But there's still a lot more work to do, and we're going to do whatever it takes to get back to the championship game."
Last season -- 13-2, ranked No. 1
Outlook -- The Dons have the best player in the metro area in Steele Stanwick and a top attackman in Joe Cummings in their quest to be the first repeat Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference champions in 13 years.
Last season -- 7-9, No. 5
Outlook -- Gilman had a young team last year that got better as the season went on, advancing to the MIAA A Conference semifinals. A talented junior class should put the Greyhounds in the hunt for their first league crown since 2000.
3. Calvert Hall
Last season -- 5-7, No. 7
Outlook -- The Cavaliers were young last season, but they now have a lot of talented players with MIAA experience. Chris Lightner will lead the defense .
4. St. Mary's
Last season -- 9-8, No. 6
Outlook -- Six returning starters and 19 seniors give the Saints plenty of experience to make a deep MIAA A Conference run.
5. Boys' Latin
Last season -- 18-2, No. 2
Outlook -- The Lakers were hit hard by graduation, including three All-Metro players, but Boys' Latin always reloads.
6. St. Paul's
Last season -- 16-4, No. 3
Outlook -- St. Paul's experience is on defense, where last year's starting defenders - Scott Matthews, Jake Fradkin and Peter Windsor - all return.
Last season -- 19-5, No. 4
Outlook -- Having perhaps the best goalie in the country in Tyler Fiorito will give McDonogh a legitimate shot at the MIAA A Conference crown. K.C. Woods is a skilled defender.
8. Severna Park
Last season -- 18-2, No. 10
Outlook -- The Falcons are loaded with young talent with about 21 juniors on varsity, while bringing up players from a junior varsity team that went undefeated last season. Juniors Sean Price and Sam Jones lead on attack.
Last season -- 15-3, No. 12
Outlook -- The Gladiators have an outstanding goalie in Jon Selfridge returning to a team that won the Class 3A-2A state title last season. Glenelg returns seven starters.
Last season -- 14-5, No. 15
Outlook -- Midfielder Eric Keppeler returns to a Dulaney team that has become accustomed to success late in the season, having won five of the past eight Class 4A-3A state titles.
Last season -- 9-8, No. 9
Outlook -- New Admirals coach Brian Wood said the team will be "starting from scratch. We have a new coach and a new offense." Luckily, Wood has plenty of talent to be competitive in the MIAA A Conference.
Last season -- 18-2, No. 13
Outlook -- First-year coach Ryan Arist will look to continue the winning tradition for the Cougars, who last year lost in the Class 3A-2A state title game. Fallston graduated its entire starting defense from last season.
Last season -- 13-4, unranked
Outlook -- Experience may be the difference for the Comets this season, as they return eight starters from last year's team that lost in the Class 3A-2A regional final. Catonsville moves up to 4A-3A this year.
Last season -- 14-3, unranked
Outlook -- The Knights return key starters in junior attackmen Cameren Warrell (45 goals, three assists last season) and Tyler Cockey (41 goals, 23 assists) and a talented long pole defenseman in Cody Anderlik.
Last season -- 13-3, unranked
Outlook -- The Eagles' strength is at defense, with Kyle Virtue being an impact player The addition of Mount Hebron transfer Harrison Chaires should help at attack. Others considered -- Broadneck (12-4, unranked), Curley (18-1, No. 14), Hereford (12-3, unranked), North Carroll (7-9, unranked), Winters Mill (19-0, No. 11)
PLAYERS TO WATCH
St. Mary's, defense -- An All-Metro selection last year, Bonanni will be responsible for covering the best opposing offensive player in every game. The senior will attend Ohio State next season.
Catonsville, attack -- . The senior was nearly impossible to contain last season, as he netted 32 goals and handed out 49 assists. Teams will find it difficult to match up with Cohee and fellow dynamic forward Matt Reymann.
Loyola, attack -- Not to be overshadowed by teammate Steele Stanwick, Cummings proved that he can be just as dangerous. Lauded by coach Jack Crawford for his work ethic, the senior had 33 goals and 12 assists last year. He will attend Maryland in the fall.
McDonogh, goal -- Rival coaches call Fiorito the best goalie in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association, and for good reason. Last season the senior helped to lead the Eagles to the MIAA A Conference semifinals. Fiorito, who will attend Princeton in the fall, is one of four seniors on the under-19 national team.
Broadneck, attack-midfield -- Holt, a senior, will have to be a leader on a team with more than half the roster being underclassmen. Holt netted 24 goals and passed out 19 assists last season.
Dulaney, midfield -- A 2007 All-America selection, the Notre Dame-bound Keppeler may be the best player on the best team in Baltimore County. The senior had 27 goals and 23 assists last season and will try to help Dulaney win its first state title since 2005.
Winters Mill, attack -- The junior will have to score early and often for a team that returns just two of its starters from last season's undefeated squad. Love had 44 goals and 15 assists last year - including the game-winner in a 7-6 victory over Parkside in the Class 2A-1A state championship.
Fallston, attack -- The senior was crucial to the Cougars' run to the Class 3A-2A title game last season, and he'll look to lead the team to another deep run. Last season he scored 34 goals and had 17 assists.
Glenelg, goal -- Selfridge is a big-time goalie who steps up at key moments. The senior made 10 of his 15 saves in the fourth quarter of the Class 3A-2A title game last season - a Glenelg 6-3 victory - and is regarded as the best goalie in Howard County.
Loyola, attack -- The senior is regarded as the best player in the area. Headed to the University of Virginia next fall, Stanwick has 161 points over his Loyola career. He's also on the under-19 national team.
Other notables -- Cory Anderlik, Century; Zack Angel, St. Mary's; Brett Baer, Westminster; David Borcik, Franklin; Brian Botti, Hereford; Brandon Capaletti, Curley; Harrison Chaires, Centennial; Tyler Cockey, Century; J.P. Dalton, St. Mary's; Ryan Dougherty ,Glenelg; Jack Doyle, Gilman; Mark Feild, Boys Latin; Kyle Fendlay, Winters Mill; Graham Franke, Towson; Brian Gehrdes, Annapolis; Chris Gotschall, Glenelg; Dane Grudzien, Joppatowne; Chris Hardy, Mervo; Marcus Holman, Gilman; Steve Kirkup, Severn; Cliff Larkin, St. Pauls; Chris Lightner, Calvert Hall; Sean Maguire, Calvert Hall; Charlie McComas, Boys Latin; Brad Motley, Fallston Pat Mull, Fallston Jamar Peete, Walbrook Billy Reybold, Reservoir; Matt Reymann, Catonsville; Mark Saxton, Mount Hebron; Jake Serfas, North Carroll; Mark Staines, Severn; Andrew Wascavage, St. Mary's; Kyle Williams Mar. Ridge;K.C. Woods, McDonogh; Brett Zebeck, John Carroll.