Well the 2012 Season is almost here we are previewing all of the districts one by one. This is the third of three installments. Please go check out the Districts 1-10 Preview here and the preview of Districts 11-20 here. Today we’ll take a look at the part of the state that has seen the most changes since last season. There are a ton of brand new districts. Brand new rivalries will begin this season. So who is the team to beat in each district? Who are the guys to watch? Let’s find out.
This week we bring you the previews for Districts 21-30. Please feel free to log in and leave your own thoughts or let us know how off-base we are! You can also use the contact form at the top of the page and send us the names of players who you feel were left out. We will be happy to update the article with your thoughts.
This year the District by District preview is being brought to you by Deep South Lacrosse. Deep South Lacrosse is located in Gainesville, FL. The website address is www.deepsouthlacrosse.com. Deep South Lacrosse is owned by R.J. Fuhr and Chad Hightower. Both are extremely passionate about growing the great game of lacrosse and providing a retail store with plenty of selection in equipment and apparel. R.J. and Chad are more than store owners. They both have sons playing high school lacrosse and R.J. is the Head Coach at Trinity Catholic HS in Ocala, FL. Both men have over twenty five years of coaching experience in youth athletics and love introducing lacrosse to so many new players in the Central Florida area. Please visit the store and take a look at the website. You can also like Deep South Lacrosse on Facebook. We have learned that just in the last couple of weeks their entire inventory has started to arrive and the store is open and ready for business.
District 21 Jensen Beach, Jupiter, Jupiter Christian, Martin County, Pine School, South Fork
Jupiter finished the final season of SFIA competition ranked 4th and Jupiter Christian was ranked 6th, according to LaxPower. However, Jupiter Christian knocked off Jupiter before being defeated in a close game by eventual IA Champion, Benjamin.
These two schools should be battling hard for the district championship and the right to go play the winner of District 22. That will most likely be Benjamin, and we think that should be a pretty good game.
Jensen Beach, Martin County, Pine School, and South Fork all played together in South Florida IA district 8 last season. We think Jensen Beach and Pine School will round out this district tournament, but we don’t have much info on those schools. All of the schools in this district are new to FHSAA, so it should be interesting to see how the winner of this district does in the State Tournament.
Jupiter Christian’s senior Kevin Meyer, who last year was 2nd Team All South FL Attack, and senior Trinard Cannon (LSM) – First Team ALL South FL, should lead Jupiter Christian this year. Juniors, Ben Yetman at the midfield and Stephen Sherrod on defense, will add depth. Hofstra commit and transfer from St. Andrews, Steele Stockstill, is out of eligibility and will not play this season.
At Jupiter High School look for senior Stone Wharton between the pipes. He was 2nd Team All South Florida last season and is committed to St Josephs. On defense senior Jared Hebert, also 2nd Team All South Florida should have a solid senior season. Junior Daniel Soviero brings some firepower to the midfield for Jupiter.
District 22 Benjamin, Dwyer, Palm Beach Gardens, and Suncoast
Benjamin ran the table last year going 19-0 and winning the IA State Championship. Palm Beach Gardens had a great year at 12-4. But two of those losses came at the hands of Benjamin. WT Dwyer had a rough year last year but they are a program with solid history (16-0 in 2009) and lots of well-deserved pride. It will be interesting to see how they deal with the tough times and the introduction to FHSAA play. Suncoast is a new program coming up from JV only last season.
The reigning champions in this district are returning a couple of D-1 recruits. Defenseman Evan Wesselman (Fairfield) and midfielder Robby Dattolo (Rutgers). Some other impact players who are returning are junior midfielders Charlie Nicklaus and Colby Kempe, junior attackman Robert Jacobs and senior attackman Nick Gardner as well as junior defenseman Philip Benz. They also feature a three year starter in the goal, Ryan O’Hare.
Gardens is looking to make up for some key losses, including three first team All- South Florida players in Blaine Wise (UNC-Greensboro), John Bretton (Coker College) and Richie D’Argento. They do have an experienced core group of guys, including senior middie Chase Elliott, who is currently deciding between St. Joe’s, LeMoyne and Mars Hill. PBG will be looking for production out of junior college prospects Bobby Gaines (middie/attack) and David Straley (middie) as well as sophomore defenseman Drew Walker, the brother of Cardinal Newman 2011 All-American Brendon Walker. Drew, as a 10th grader, is already as big as his older sibling. A very young team is stacked with Storm and Swashbuckler travel team players. There is lots of optimism that this year’s team can build on the 60-22 record that Tom Dean and Justin Gilken recorded in five years of IA ball, as they make the transition to FHSAA.
District 23 Cardinal Newman, John I. Leonard, Palm Beach Central, Park Vista, Wellington
This district is another district made up entirely of previous club teams. Cardinal Newman did play in the FHSAA before moving to the SFIA. With the exception of Cardinal Newman all of these schools comprised last year’s SFIA district 5. The winner of this district will have the opportunity to knock off one of the favorites to win the State Championship. That will be either Saint Andrews or whoever beats them to win District 24.
Cardinal Newman was the highest ranked of these teams last season and has a strong history behind them, but Palm Beach Central has the past 2 district titles. This one should come down to a good championship game between those two teams.
New Cardinal Newman head coach, Jason Carlstrom will have some solid talent to work with this season. Attackman Ray Donnally, middies Chris Gary and Peyton Dowd will combine to give CN consistent scoring threats.
Park Vista isn’t just going to sit on the sidelines and watch CN and PBC battle it out, however. They have one of the fastest players in the county in middie Ian Carque and can expect solid goaltending from Austin Grant (The Citadel). Shaun Maulvis (Reinhardt) is also expected to have a solid senior outing. They are going to be taking their talents to Pennsylvania this year for the team’s first out of state trip.
Wellington will look to improve on last season’s 5-10 effort. They have added defensive coach Johnny Hernadez to improve a defense that was undisciplined at times. They do have one of the districts biggest scoring threats with Tyler Kuhlman on the attack. Most importantly, these young men will be dedicating their season to the Make a Wish Foundation raising money throughout the year to make a wish come true for a terminally ill child. Best of luck to these young men.
District 24 Boca Raton, Pope John Paul II, Spanish River, and St. Andrews
The obvious bet here is that St. Andrew’s will advance out of the district and onto the state finals as usual. It will be a little tougher to get out of the district this year, since they literally had the district to themselves last year.
The St. Andrews list of players to watch this year is long. At the attack Connor Whipple will be doing plenty of scoring this season as well as Jake Levine from Cold Harbor, NY. He is a Nike Blue Chipper and is tough to defend. Senior Max Susskind (Princeton) and junior Grant “Taco” Mailer (Cornell) will be tough to stop running the midfield and VMI commit Zach Heard will help anchor the defense. Of course, nobody gets the transfers like Saint Andrews does and a couple of kids coming in this year are sophomore Ben Kennedy and junior Andy Wheeler. They will add plenty of depth at the midfield.
Boca is going to be doing their best to stop these guys. They are returning senior All American defensemen Kyle Dingle and six of the other seven poles, so they should have good depth on the defensive end of the field. They will be protecting junior goalie Nick “Fuzzy” Martin, a U of Delaware commit who is among the best in the state between the pipes.
They lost their top three scoring midfielders but D2 commits Greg Swanson and Connor Cecil will be picking up the slack and will no doubt have tremendous senior seasons. At the attack keep an eye on 1st team All-League player Travis Giarratana.
Pope John Paul ll will be figuring into the mix in this district, returning leading scorer Sean Tucker. Mike Miranda (Limestone) and Carter Jara (Piedmont) will provide solid play at the midfield. Sam Lewend will be anchoring a strong defensive unit for Pope.
Although Spanish River may not be a threat to win this deep district, they do have a couple of players to keep an eye on this season. Evan Deacon and Adrian Franzone are both very talented players and will make their presence known this season in a very talented district.
District 25 Coral Springs Charter, Coral Springs Christian, Douglas, North Broward Prep, West Boca
We have very little information on these teams. This district is made up of three former IA teams and two FHSAA teams. Of all the schools in this district only one had a winning record last year. So we will predict Douglass (10-8 in 2011) to win this district and then fall to Pine Crest in the next round.
District 26 Calvary Christian, Cardinal Gibbons, Pine Crest, Taravella
This is a good looking district. Pine Crest should win this district. They have the talent, coaching, and history to get the job done. Cardinal Gibbons finished with a .500 record last season in the FHSAA with Calvary Christian and Taravella competing in IA.
Look for Sam Talkow to have a great season for Pine Crest with Alex Lambert leading Cardinal Gibbons.
Calvary Christian is looking to enjoy a successful first year in the FHSAA in a brand new stadium. They will be looking to Dawson Allen to help make that happen.
District 27 American Heritage, South Plantation, St. Thomas Aquinas, University, and Western
St. Thomas Aquinas is the team to beat in this district and should advance to the second round of the state tournament. STA trounced University and American Heritage last season and Western-Davie and South Plantation are both new to the FHSAA.
St Thomas has their toughest out of conference schedule ever. Playing Columbus Catholic, Lake Highland Prep, Dwyer, Baron Collier, Gulliver, Pine Crest, Boca High, Boone, Ponte Vedra, Benjamin and St Andrews.
St. Thomas is going to have to rebuild a little since graduating the “Sun Sentinel Player of the Year,” Chris Selva (Hofstra.) They are still returning some top notch starters from last year’s roster, Cole and Jake Champion, Griffin Melzer, Burke Harrington and Michael Jacobson.
They are young and will be tested in the out of district schedule, but they will be seasoned veterans by the time the play-offs come around. They should cruise through districts and, if they can stay healthy, could go deep in the state tournament.
District 28 Archbishop McCarthy, Cooper City, Cypress Bay, Pembroke Pines Charter, West Broward
We don’t have much info on District 28. If you know of players to watch or hold an opinion on this please log in and tell us. Judging from what we can find, Archbishop McCarthy is the top FHSAA school in this bunch and Cooper City is the strongest of the IA schools coming in. So we think it will be a two horse race between those two teams. Cypress Bay and West Broward both had losing records last year in the IA and Pines was winless in FHSAA competition.
District 29 Belen Jesuit, Columbus, Gulliver Prep, Immaculata-LaSalle, Miami Country Day, Ransom Everglades
This is a very exciting district. Top to bottom – any of the teams in the district can beat any other on a given night. In our opinion, Gulliver is still the team to beat as they have historically owned Miami lacrosse. However, there is lots of talk that this will come down to Columbus and Ransom. But then again, Belen Jesuit and Miami Country Day are also returning almost all their starters from last year.
With the heated rivalry between Belen Jesuit and Columbus Catholic finally coming to the lacrosse field the two meetings between these guys are going to be huge. Crowds could be as big as 4000 or more.
After falling short in a rather exciting district championship game last spring, the Raiders of Ransom Everglades enter the 2012 season with as much experience as they’ve ever had. The Raiders return at least one All-Dade player at every position, including 2x All-Dade senior Miles Brooke (committed to Oberlin College), who has started every game in the goal since his freshman year. They also return nearly every starter from last year.
One major key to Ransom’s success this year will be keeping everyone healthy. They began last season with injuries that hung over from fall and winter sports seasons, and suffered a couple injuries mid season. Junior, Jeremy Peters (2010 All-Dade) actually fell into both of those categories. It wasn’t until the district tournament that the Raiders’ full roster was dressed and on the sideline. A healthy Ransom Everglades team could be dangerous this year, but neither the players nor the coaches are willing to get ahead of themselves. Assistant coach, Chazz Woodson, notes “We still have a whole lot of work to do to get to where we want to be as a team and as a program. But we’ve got a great group of young men, that are committed to putting in the time and effort it takes to be successful.”
Keep an eye on two goalies in this district, Ransom goalie Miles Brookes and Mark Chaplin from MCD.
Nicky Rodrigo at Columbus and Robby Cosio at Belen Jesuit are a couple of solid attackmen to watch and defensively Gabe Colon at Gulliver may be the best.
District 30 Coral Reef, Coral Shores, Miami Killian, Miami Palmetto, Palmer Trinity
District 30 is split between teams from last year’s FHSAA and IA divisions so there’s no strong history. There are three teams that should be pretty evenly matched, Palmetto, Killian and Coral Shores. Coral Reef just graduated a senior heavy team, and it will be a rebuilding year for them. Palmer is coming off a tough season from last year and graduated a number of seniors, but they have a good stable of young guys that are looking to make their mark on this new district. Palmetto has a long history of being competitive and has a great JV feeder program and they are well coached. Coral Shores also has a well-established, well-coached program with recent players going on to play at the DII level.
Miami Killian could very well be the story of District 30 this year. Bill Franklin took over the helm at Killian very late last fall. Last year, they began the work of rebuilding the program after a 0-11 record in 2010. They improved to 4-7 in 2011 in a tough district. Killian has been doing their homework in the off season in the weight room, working speed and agility, playing fall ball and tournaments. They reportedly have over 70 kids involved in their preseason conditioning program. They have 5 kids on the ESPN Rise National Lacrosse Watch Lists: Seniors Ben Gross, Warren Fields and Jose Medina, plus Juniors David Felipe and Miguel Andrillon. They will be working hard during the season with a tough schedule including a trip to Virginia against Hampton Roads Academy and Norfolk Collegiate.
At Palmer Trinity they will be looking for leadership from seniors Nick Joseph (M/FO), Kevin Uzquiano (D), and Ben DaGrosa (D). A pair of junior attackmen will be doing plenty of scoring; Jed DaGrosa and Alex Altizer, and they have an exciting freshman LSM in JD Madril.
There are nine teams playing as independents this season. Most are first year programs.
American Heritage (Delray Beach)
Bishop Snyder (Jacksonville)
Flanagan (Pembroke Pines)
King’s Academy (West Palm Beach)
Sarasota Military Academy