Well, here were go! The start of the 2019 High School Boys lacrosse season.
I focus on the Great Lakes Region which consists of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. This area is talented, and it should be an interesting year.
I'm working with 30-plus people within these four states, including High school coaches, travel coaches, local media, select parents, and area contacts I've made in my 20-plus years following lacrosse. My reporting style is straightforward -- I celebrate the teams and players on their successes, not dwell on shortcomings.
I have one stipulation/caveat to report regarding Culver Academy's prep team (I’ve had this discussion elsewhere, but I may as well explain it again). They will not be in my rankings or players to watch list for the Midwest. As a prep team, they are not your typical high school team. They cannot compete for an Indiana state title. Some teams in the Midwest are not allowed to play them ( which I think is foolish). Culver Academy Prep is loaded, and most likely every player will go on to play Division-I lacrosse. It is a top-notch program.
Culver brings a strong national media spotlight to our area, and they play teams throughout the Midwest. The attention they get spills over to the teams that play them. They attract college coaches more than any other Midwest lacrosse team. If you are lucky enough to play them, play your best. Because it just may help you get noticed. Steel sharpens steel. If you lose, you'll learn a lot about who your team is and where your deficiencies may be. If you win, well, what could be better? A story to tell forever. So my main point is I'm not anti-Culver. I'm undeniably pro-Culver. I love watching them play, and if you have an opportunity to see them, I encourage you to do so. With that out of the way, let me get started.
Lists are in alphabetical order
Defending Champion: Loyola Academy (Ill.)
Runner up: New Trier (Ill.)
Top 5: Lake Forest (Ill.), Loyola Academy, Lyons Township (Ill.), New Trier (Ill.), St. Viator (Ill.)
Next 5: Glenbard West (Ill.), Grayslake North (Ill.), Neuqua Valley (Ill.), South Elgin (Ill.), St. Rita (Ill.)
Returning All Americans
Ben Frick, 2019, M/FO, Glenbard West (Boston University)
Tim Hackett, 2019, M, Loyola Academy (Bryant)
Najee Taylor, 2019, M, Loyola Academy (Notre Dame)
Dom Urukalo, 2019, G, Loyola Academy (uncommitted)
Jack Meagher, 2019, A, Lyons Township (High Point)
Henry Scherb, 2019, A, New Trier (Tufts)
Elijah Black, 2019, A, St Viator (Ohio St.)
Players to Watch
Josh Crosby, M, Glenbard West (Marquette)
Jack Cain, D, Hinsdale Central (Dartmouth)
George Schoettle, M/FO, Lake Forest (Swarthmore)
Mick Burden, M/FO, Loyola Academy (Richmond)
Cooper Pradzwik, LSM/D, Loyola Academy (Harvard)
Nolan Chow, A, Loyola Academy (Wesleyan)
Caiden Perry, M, Neuqua Valley (RIT)
Tyler Baird, M, New Trier (High Point)
Dylan Bruno, A, New Trier (RIT)
Brooks South, D, New Trier (Furman)
Cooper Yaccino, G, New Trier (Fairfield )
Cade Newton, A, South Elgin (Uncommitted)
Jack Nolan, M, St Rita (Jacksonville)
Jacob Freeman, M, St Viator (Lafayette )
Conner Freeman, M, St Viator (Lafayette)
Loyola Academy and New Trier have dominated Illinois. There is no reason those two teams won’t meet up again this year for the title. They both play brutal schedules to get them ready for the end of the season. The days of those two dominating may be seeing an end as the rest of the state is starting to catch up, which will only make it more exciting for Illinois lacrosse fans. The team on everyone’s lips is South Elgin. They are D2, but they beat almost everyone they played last year. With scoring phenom Cade Newton back, this will be a team to keep an eye on.
Defending Champion: Hamilton Southeastern (Ind.)
Runner Up: Culver Academy (Ind.)
Top 5: Carmel (Ind.), Cathedral (Ind.), Culver Academy (Ind.), Hamilton Southeastern (Ind.), Zionsville (Ind.)
Next 5: Brebeuf Jesuit (Ind.), Crown Point (Ind.), Guerin Catholic (Ind.), South Bend St Joseph (Ind.), Westfield (Ind.)
Players to Watch
Sam Bedich, FO, Cathedral
Colin Bilbrey, LSM, Cathedral
Liam McClure, D, Cathedral
Matt Dennen, M, Cathedral
Erik Allen, M/FO, Carmel (Canisius)
Nick George, A/M, Carmel (Lindenwood)
Asher Mendel, A, Carmel (Detroit Mercy)
Tommy Spraetz, A/M, Carmel
Jordan Walker, M, Carmel
Cannon Elsbury, D, Hamilton Southeastern
Ryan Kemp, A, Hamilton Southeastern
Cam Smith, A, Hamilton Southeastern
Duncan McCourt, Zionsville
The start of this season will tell a lot. Lots of question about all of the teams.
How does Carmel come out with Coach Jack Meachum in year two? Big, fast, deep and athletic. Can they put it all together?
Cathedral should be in fine form, especially with a few additions to their team. They have a strong player at every position. Do they have the depth?
Defending Champs Hamilton Southeastern will always be game, but their big-name players will need to step up, as there may be holes from departures.
Culver Academy is a mystery. They lost their best offensive player to graduation, their faceoff man is now on the Culver Academy Prep team, and a defensive starter is now on Cathedral. But you never know what’s lurking on their roster.
Zionsville is under a new regime. Coach James Rundle takes over as the head coach. He comes from the Tom Coons coaching tree, so you know Zionsville with play tough and focused lacrosse.
Lacrosse in Indiana is where I saw it in Illinois about five years ago — just starting to emerge. But the difference is the schools here go all-in behind their athletics. It won’t be long before this state becomes a real powerhouse.
D1 Defending Champion: Detroit Catholic Central (Mich.)
D1 Runner Up: Brother Rice (Mich.)
D2 Defending Champion: East Grand Rapids (Mich.)
D2 Runner Up: Forest Hills Central (Mich.)
D1 Top 5: Brighton (Mich.), Brother Rice (Mich.), Detroit Central Catholic (Mich.), Hartland (Mich.), Rockford (Mich.)
D2 Top 5: Cranbrook (Mich.), Detroit Country Day (Mich.), East Grand Rapids (Mich.), Forest Hills Central (Mich.), Orchard Lake-St. Mary’s (Mich.)
Returning All Americans
Players to Watch
Michael Cosgrove, M, Brother Rice (Michigan)
Jack Crosby, D, Brother Rice (Rutgers)
Dylan Day, A, Tecumseh (Indianapolis)
James Donaldson, D, Brother Rice (Georgetown)
Justin Glod, A, Brother Rice (Harvard)
Lawson Brophy, M/FO, Cranbrook (Amherst)
Max Christides, G, Cranbrook (UMass-Lowell)
Connor Toomey, LSM, Cranbrook (Swarthmore)
Ryan Birney, M, Detroit Catholic Central (Detroit Mercy)
Jakob Hemme, G, Detroit Catholic Central
Jack Conroy, M, Detroit Jesuit (Utah)
Sean Richard, G, Detroit Jesuit (Marquette)
Jackson Clay, A, Forest Hills Central
Luke Majick, M, Forest Hills Central (Furman)
Logan Wedder, M/FO, Forest Hills Central (Denver)
Matt O’Connor, M, Harper Creek (Mercer)
Sam Faber, M/FO, Haslett (Ohio State)
Will Ronan, M, Rochester Adams (Bryant)
Ian Rodriguez, M, Rockford (Air Force)
The fact that Brother Rice is not the defending champion says something about this year. The last time they lost a state championship was 2002. They went on to win 14-straight state championships after that. They have won 24 of the last 26 state titles. That’s what makes Detroit Catholic Central's victory last year so amazing. Now the question is: Can DCC go from hunter to hunted this year? They have the confidence that they can, and they have the firepower to do it. But Brother Rice doesn’t rebuild, they reload. And now they have a chip on their shoulder. This is set to be a heavyweight battle. But while those two are focused on each other, does that leave an opening for a hard-charging up and comer in Hartland?
Over in D2, there was an epic battle between East Grand Rapids which beat Forest Hill Central, and Forest Hills Central is looking for payback. Between those two schools, they lost seven All-Americans. Are they weaker and vulnerable?
Cranbrook has the talent to challenge, but a severe injury may derail them. Detroit Country Day is under a new leader, Coach Chris Garland. He arrives from Gilman (Md.), which played in the vaunted MIAA A Conference in Maryland. Detroit Country Day will be ready to go.
D1 Defending Champion: St Xavier (Ohio)
D1 Runner Up: St Ignatius (Ohio)
D2 Defending Champion: St Francis DeSales (Ohio)
D2 Runner Up: Ottawa Hills (Ohio)
D1 Top 5: Archbishop Moeller (Ohio), Dublin Coffman (Ohio), St Ignatius (Ohio), St Xavier (Ohio), Upper Arlington (Ohio)
D2 Top 5: Chagrin Falls (Ohio), Indian Hill (Ohio), Mariemont (Ohio), St Francis DeSales (Ohio), University School (Ohio)
Otto Bergman, 2019, G, Chagrin Falls (Canisius)
Evan James, 2019, A, Dublin Coffman (Loyola)
Michael Boehm, 2020, A, St Ignatius (Michigan)
Players to Watch
Theo Becker, A, Archbishop Moeller (Furman)
Lane Miller, M, Archbishop Moeller
Brendan Sigurdson, A, Archbishop Moeller (Cleveland State)
Robert Gabriel, D, Centerville (Bellarmine )
Nick Harris, M, Dublin Coffman (Notre Dame)
Zach Kasun, D, Dublin Coffman (Dennison)
Ethan Tyack, A, Dublin Coffman (Dennison)
Patrick Farist, F/O, Indian Hill (Barton College)
Wyatt Fruland, A, Indian Hill (Tampa)
Adam Blind, G, Olentangy Liberty
Andrew Guagenti, D, Olentangy Liberty (Ohio St.)
Ben Starkey, M, Padua Franciscan ( Robert Morris)
Tommy Clayton, A, St Francis DeSales (Jacksonville)
Carter Hilleary, M/FO, St Francis DeSales (Ohio State)
Simon Orzell, F/O, Walsh Jesuit
Ohio is the deepest state as far as talent. They are also the most spread apart. Attempting to find consensus on teams is difficult. There is no clear top team, and it is possible that a team not listed among the Top 5 ends up winning it all.
Each area has teams that will battle it out to emerge as the favorite. Many of the teams travel throughout the Midwest, so those games will have significance in an overall Midwest poll.
In Division II, it is St. Francis DeSales’ title to lose. They have talent and experience. But Indian Hill is a team to watch. Patrick Farist is on pace to pass TD Ierlan’s faceoff win record and Wyatt Fruland, after a huge 127-point season last year, looks to reach the 300 Club this season and put his name among Ohio's all-time leading scorers.
So there you have it — my Midwest Region preseason outlook. If you want, you can reach out to me at my email email@example.com or see me on twitter @mfwchi.