Easter weekend means holiday lacrosse tournaments, but the best of the lot (10 in the metro area) will be right here in the county at Broadneck High School.
Four of the metro area's top stick teams -- two public and two private schools, all from Anne Arundel -- will battle at Broadneck tomorrow and Saturday in the second annual Al Laramore Memorial Lacrosse Tourney.
The tournament began last year at Annapolis High, where Laramore coached teams to state championships in football, basketball and lacrosse (three times). Laramore died Jan. 10, 1989.
"At one time manyyears ago, we had a lacrosse tournament, but it disbanded," said Annapolis athletic director Fred Stauffer.
"So, when (Annapolis coach) Dan (Hart) asked about starting one, I told him it was super, because we're a tournament school. We have tournaments in basketball and wrestling, and invitationals in cross country and track."
After getting approval from principal Ken Nichols, who now has an administrative position with the Board of Education, Stauffer got the ball rolling, and putting Laramore's name on it was a natural.
"Once we got approval, we all said, let's name it after Big Al," said Stauffer. "Mr. Nichols suggested we rotate the site and that's why it will be played at Broadneck this year."
Host Broadneck will meet Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference power St. Mary's (2-0) at 7 p.m. tomorrow while Annapolis (1-0) plays another MSA A conference power in Severn School (2-0) at 5 p.m.
On Saturday, St. Mary's will play Annapolis at 5 p.m. and Severn-Broadneck will meet at 7 p.m.
The public-school teams only play the private-school teams and not each other.Annapolis and Broadneck will meet in their regular Class 4A Region IV schedule while Severn and St. Mary's tangle in the MSA, so it makesa lot of sense to match the teams this way.
Because of their stadium facilities, only Annapolis and Broadneck will rotate the site each year. St. Mary's and Severn don't have facilities to properly handle large crowds.
"We're excited that private and public schools in the Annapolis-metropolitan area can compete against each other in this type of tournament," said Broadneck athletic director Tim McMullen.
There is no question the four are among the best with St. Mary's and Severn perennial MSA contenders, and Annapolis and Broadneck annual playoff contenders in Class 4A. Although it must be said that as good as the public-school league is, it is a step down from the MSA A Conference, which is the best high school lacrosse league in the East.
"We've got all quality teams in this tournament, and it's a pleasure to be on the field with St. Mary's and Severn in games where it's just a W (win) or L (loss) and has nothing to do with the state high school playoff system," said Hart.
Does that mean Hart is conceding both games?
"No, not really," laughed Hart. "What I mean is that we will be ready, but if we lose it won't hurt as far as the playoffs are concerned. We're not going in with the attitude that we expect to lose, believe me."
St. Mary's coach Jim Moorhead and Severn'sPeter Trau, who is filling in as head coach while Rob White serves in the National Guard, are equally excited about playing their public-school neighbors. Moorhead and Trau may have the upper hand, but theyaren't saying anything to give their opponents any added incentive.
After outscoring its first two foes, 34-8, Moorhead was asked if that was a true indication of the Saints' firepower and what we might see in the Laramore Tournament.
"We have scored a lot, but the first two opponents (Tabor Academy and John Carroll) haven't been up to the level of play we're used to," said Moorhead. "I think this weekend will be a great test for us.
All the coaches really like the tournament format even though no official champ comes out of this round-robin event.
"It's great to get to play the public schools," said Moorhead. "The publicity is great for the kids, and it creates a lot of community spirit.
"There is no true champion in this tournament, but that doesn't make any difference."
It really doesn't becauseit's a showcase for the kids involved, especially the athletes of Annapolis and Broadneck. Major college coaches and scouts see more of the MSA A Conference than the public-school league, because that'swhere the blue-chippers are.
There aren't as many Division I blue-chippers among the public schools, but there are more than people realize. They only need to be seen doing well against the caliber of clubs such as Severn and St. Mary's, and that's the kind of exposure they will get in this tournament.
Annapolis and Broadneck kids stand to profit from the experience of this quality tournament. It's their chance to shine under the right conditions -- going against high-level competition.
Some kids may sparkle on a regular basis in the public-school league, but the question is, would the same kids sparkle against MSA foes? They get a chance to do that Thursday and Saturday, and that's how scholarships are earned.
Regardless of scholarships, who wins and who loses, it's going to be a fun two days for the playerson the four teams.
"I think it's going to be an outstanding tournament and Tim McMullen has done a fantastic job in getting things going, such as a pizza party for the kids on Saturday night followed by an awards ceremony," said White.
"We will give out 14 plaques to players named to the All-Tournament Team. It's going to be a nice Easter gift for everyone."