When judging a high school sports program, you can give a big A-plusto those schools that prepare their players on and off the field forthe next level.
That next level is, of course, college, and St. Mary's High in Annapolis rates an A-plus for its lacrosse program.
Its boys lacrosse team (12-4) did not win the Maryland ScholasticAssociation A Conference championship as it had hoped, but instead dropped the title game, 9-8, to St. Paul's of Baltimore County. It would have been great to have won it, it would have been icing on the cake for the team's seniors.
The 14 seniors on the Saints' squad don't have a championship to brag about, but more importantly they all will be going to and playing in college next year. It's the highest number of seniors ever in one season at St. Mary's to land a college opportunity.
Coach Jim Moorhead (the Anne Arundel County Sun Boys Lacrosse Coach of the Year), his assistants, Mike Codd and Don Sadler, athletic director Carmine Blades, principal Sister Phyllis and the rest of St. Mary's can be very proud. When it came to preparation academically and athletically, the Saints were 14-for-14.
Most lacrossefans know that the Saints' All-County selections -- such as attackman Rob Chomo, midfielder David Jones and defenseman Mike Murray, plus second-teamers Chris Brown (goalie) and Greg Geiger (midfielder) -- all are headed for the college scene. But they are not the only ones.
Chomo and Geiger will attend the University of Maryland while Jones will play at the University of Virginia, Brown at the University ofNorth Carolina and Murray at the University of Delaware. They are among eight of the 14 who have received either full or partial scholarships.
Back-up goalie Kevin Donnelly is headed for Division III West Chester University (Pa.), defensemen Andrew Woerner to Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Division III), and Brad Stevens to the Navy Prep School in New England.
Donnelly is a great example of the impeccable reputation the Saints have. A goalie who would have started at most other schools, he had to play behind Brown. Yet, Donnelly didn't gounnoticed, thanks to the efforts of Moorhead and his staff.
Otherattackmen moving up to bigger things are Mike McClelland and Ryan Kelly, both to the University of Delaware.
The graduating midfielders set to continue their education and stickwork are Tony Souza (Drexel University), Chris Overend (Ohio State), Paul Songy (Air Force Academy) and Charles Griffith (Dickinson College, Division III).
Moorhead and staff emphasize going on to play in college and take pride ingetting their seniors into programs best for them on and off the field.
It doesn't happen by accident either.
A lot of time on the phone and corresponding brings such brilliant results. And the efforts put forth are not just in lacrosse, although that is the sport the school is best known for.
"We have a lot of kids who come into ourschool with excellent lacrosse backgrounds, and they come here because of the reputation of our lacrosse program," Blades said. "Playing in the MSA prepares them well for college because it is such a competitive league.
"And Jim (Moorhead) does an excellent job communicating with the colleges about our players."
Moorhead, who is also vice principal at the school, is more than a coach. The man is an educator in the true sense of the word, and the results speak for themselves.
St. Mary's also serves as a vivid example of what an overall winning program can do for a school and its student-athletes. Some 18 out of 21 varsity and junior varsity teams had winning records this year, and the Saints boast three MSA championships and two girls Catholic League titles.
The three MSA titles were won by the tennis team and the football and wrestling teams coached by Brad Best. Footballwas a tri-champ with St. Paul's and Severn, while tennis was a tri-winner with Severn and John Carroll of Harford County.
On the girlsside, the soccer and junior varsity basketball (28-0) teams copped Baltimore Catholic League titles.
Jones and Laura Coakley shone as the two top athletes at the school and represent the image the schoolprojects so well.
At the Saints' recent awards night, Jones received the prestigious John C. Russell Memorial Award as the school's Male Athlete of the Year while Coakley took the Roland Case Memorial Award as the Female Athlete of the Year after becoming the school's first female athlete to receive a full scholarship to a Division I school.
Jones was a three-sport standout in soccer, basketball and lacrosse and appears headed for big things in college lacrosse at Virginia.
"David has tremendous ability and should become one of the top midfielders in the nation," said Moorhead, a former All-American at Johns Hopkins.