Glenelg High School's boys lacrosse program has taken a 180-degree turn in the past three seasons, and Coach Rick Kincaid prefers to downplay his role in the turnaround.
Kincaid, a quiet, unassuming type, credits Assistant Coach Sonny Ziegler and the Glenelg players for the Gladiators' 10-4 season. It was Glenelg's best spring in six years, and it came just two years after the Gladiators went 1-12 in Kincaid's first season.
But Kincaid, the Howard County Sun's Coach of the Year, can't hide anymore. Not after the way the Gladiators responded to his touch.
Glenelg, easily the county's most surprising team, came into the season just hoping to improve on last year's 3-9 record. The Gladiatorsthen got off to a 4-0 start, and hit the county schedule strong by winning their first four league games. The fourth game was a 9-8 overtime upset of Mount Hebron.
The Gladiators eventually lost to Howard and Centennial but wound up the regular season with a 15-6 whippingof Hammond to finish in a three-way tie for second place. Glenelg just missed qualifying for the Class 1A/2A playoffs.
How did Glenelgdo it? Having All-County players like senior midfielder Jason Pett and senior attackman Nevin Hilliard certainly helped. But the Gladiators won mainly because they believed in Kincaid, who constantly preached a philosophy of patience and unselfishness.
"There's not a greedy one in the bunch," said Kincaid. "They've given up open 14-yard shots to set up an open 6-yarder. Our kids had to work for everything they got. They're good athletes, but you're not going to find many superstars on this team."
The Gladiators, who lacked speed and depth,were the models of Kincaid's creed. Their possession-conscious offense ground games to a halt. They rarely took low-percentage shots. Andhow's this for unselfish: An astonishing 80 percent of Glenelg's goals were assisted.
"That's phenomenal. And it shows just how well these kids worked together," said Kincaid. "They weren't afraid to give the ball up. They didn't have to put pressure on themselves. They had a little eye on the self, and a big eye on the team. And they carried it through."