The upcoming spring season figures to be a very busy one for Will Koras at Loyola Blakefield.
The senior from Lutherville is already regarded as one of the top golfers in the area, considering that he finished as a runner-up to Boys’ Latin freshman Jack Halleron in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association individual championship last May.
The University of Maryland golf commit is firmly established in the No. 1 singles spot for the Dons, who bowed in the A Conference team finals to St. Paul’s in 2017.
While Koras would like nothing better than to earn a coveted MIAA individual or team golf title in May, he could even glom a third piece of hardware if Loyola’s lacrosse team comes through for the first time since 2013 in the ultra competitive A Conference.
That’s because the 5-foot-11, 185-pound athlete, who also played football for the Dons, has earned a spot on the lacrosse roster as a faceoff specialist or “FOGO” (face-off, get off).
Although it will require his full athletic attention to balance the finesse of golf with the physicality required of a faceoff specialist, school officials, coaches and his parents, Will and Laura, have given him the thumbs-up to give it a try.
Hoping to play on the same team with his brother, sophomore midfielder Jack, was a prime motivator for Koras’ bid to do double duty.
Moreover, younger brother Charlie will play for Loyola’s junior varsity this spring, and could be elevated to the varsity level later in the season.
“There was no doubt that Will was going to find his way back to Hargaden Field,” his mother said. “It’s Will’s last chance to play on a team with his brothers.”
Despite not having played lacrosse for Loyola since middle school, the two-sport quest began to percolate in the future Terp golfer’s mind late last summer, which prompted him to attend weekly sessions with faceoff guru and family friend Brent Hiken.
Hiken, who plays for the Atlanta Blaze of Major League Lacrosse, coaches several MIAA athletes in the offseason, giving Koras a chance to be evaluated while competing against some of his contemporaries.
When broached with the idea, Hiken said he thought it had promise.
“My initial thought was that he had already played in so many games as a quarterback and a top golfer, so I knew he could do it mentally,” said Hiken, who was a member of Stevenson University’s 2013 Division III national championship lacrosse team. “I wasn’t sure about the physical part, but what strikes me the most about Willis that he’s as competitive as they come and is one of the smartest athletes that I coach. He’s not just doing it to do it, he wants to be great at it. There are only a select few of athletes that I coach who have a work rate like Will’s. He goes the extra mile.”
“I started facing off against MIAA guys, and it went really, really well,” Koras said about working with Hiken in the fall and winter. “At that point, I was just trying to get good enough to try out for the team at Loyola.”
Since then, success in a scrimmage against Pope Paul VI Catholic High School has buoyed his hopes of earning a spot in the faceoff rotation with junior Alex Breschi and senior classmate Alec Cerasoli, a longstick middle when he’s not taking the draw.
Loyola coach Ben Rubeor said that he was “optimistic” about Koras’ ability to contribute to the team.
“The faceoff position has become the most important position on the field,” said Rubeor, a former star attackman for Loyola and the University of Virginia. “Will has challenges ahead of him because he’ll be going against some of the top players in the country in the MIAA.”
Rubeor said that, after not playing the sport for the Dons for the first three years of high school, Koras will have “some catching up to do, lacrosse-wise.
“But his passion and desire will serve him well at this level,” he added.
Mike Keeney, Loyola’s athletic director and a middle school lacrosse coach, said that when Koras approached him about doing double duty, he told him to work it out with his coaches.
“Since he’s going to play golf in college, I have full faith that golf is a priority [between the sports],” Keeney said. “If anyone can make it work, Will can. He’s a good faceoff guy, a very good golfer and a great kid.”
Koras, who started five games at quarterback as a sophomore and every game as a junior for the Dons’ football team, said that his future golf coach with the Terps, Jason Rodenhaver, wholeheartedly supports the idea.
“I asked him about it,” Koras said. “And he was all for it. He knows that golf is most important to me. He said he thinks that I can handle it.”
A plus-three golfer who was on the course as often as he could after school in the fall, Koras’ strong suit is length off the tee, although he hopes to improve a sub-50 percent rate of hitting fairways.
He said that his irons and short game are in pretty good shape while, like most golfers, his putting can be streaky.
“We really want to win a team championship this year,” Koras said. “And I really want to win an individual title, too.”
Even though crushing a 300-yard drive off the tee as opposed to winning an individual battle man-to-man at the faceoff X are two seemingly different athletic disciplines, Koras said that some of the skills are transferable.
“Facing off is just like an individual sport,” he said. “It’s something that I want to do to help the team, and I really want to play with my brothers. Besides, it’s my senior year. I mean, why not?”