If all goes well for St. Paul's this spring, the Crusaders could create a new sports term: "double-three-peat."
During the 1990-91 season St. Paul's won Maryland Scholastic Association titles in football, basketball and lacrosse. The Crusaders have repeated as champions in football and basketball in 1991-92 and the lacrosse team is favored to win the A Conference again.
It won't be easy for the Crusaders, who will have to survive in the tougher of two A Conference divisions, with stiff competition from Severn, Loyola and Gilman.
"We're going to be very good," said coach Mitch Whiteley, "but the competition is going to be very good, too."
There are several changes in the MSA this year. John Carroll and McDonogh have moved from the BB to the A Conference. Poly has moved from the B Conference to the BB Conference. Forest Park, Patterson and Lake Clifton have moved from the C Conference to the B Conference.
In Baltimore County, Dulaney is still the team to beat, though Loch Raven and Towson will be close behind. Severna Park and Annapolis should battle it out in Anne Arundel County. C. Milton Wright is the favorite in Harford County, but Fallston and North Harford should offer stiff competition. Mount Hebron could run away with the Howard County title, but Glenelg should challenge. South Carroll and Liberty are the favorites among the Carroll County schools.
Here is a look at The Baltimore Sun's preseason top 15:
1. ST. PAUL'S
Last year, the youthful Crusaders (12-4) got better as the season progressed and ended with playoff victories over Loyola and St. Mary's to capture the MSA A Conference title. With seven starters returning, including four with All-Metro recognition, St. Paul's appears ready for a strong repeat bid in a talent-rich A Conference field. What could be one of the most explosive attack units in recent years is topped by four-year starters Tim Whiteley (the leading scorer in the MSA) and Rob Bouse and three-year starter Michael Watson, a junior. A midfield which includes 11 returnees among 14 players is led by senior Joe Gelbard. The defense is anchored by senior goalie Tommy Keratzes, with juniors Mac McCulloch and Steve Karvounis back on close defense joining with transfer Patrick Doyle (Loyola).
The Dons were last year's favorite, but as coach Joe McFadden put it, "we got dinged up along the way" finishing at 7-4 and being ousted in the opening playoff round by eventual A Conference champion St. Paul's. This year McFadden is worried that a lack of proven depth could be troublesome, especially on defense where the Dons need a lot of work according to the veteran coach. Seniors Chris Ginter and Colin Brune along with sophomore Karl Zeller will start on defense, and the goaltending spot is still a battle between returning seniors Jason Johnson and Paul Speargas and junior Greg Zorella, up from the JV championship team. Three-year starter Brad Hoag leads the starting senior midfield unit that also includes Bobby Vaughn and Greg Foti, while senior Pat McGuire heads the second trio. Attack is probably the strongest area for the Dons with junior Bill Evans, four-year veteran Mike Boyle and leading point man Mike Gately all returning. "In our division one real good team isn't going to make the playoffs," said McFadden. "Right now our goal is to get one of those two playoff spots."
After spending the past 10 months in Fort Bragg, N.C., with his Special Forces unit in support of Operation Desert Storm, Severn boys lacrosse coach Rob White is back and looking to improve on last season, when his team's went 4-6 in the MSA A Conference under the direction of interim coach Peter Trau. The Admirals return 15 seniors, including their goalie, 6-1, 170-pound Court Durling. Milford Marchant (27 goals, 19 assists), Todd Muendell and Duncan Slidell return to the midfield. Jason Wade (44 goals, 28 assists) and Dudley Dixon anchor the attack. Most impressive is Severn's senior-laden close defense, which includes Ben Andrew, Graydon Ripley, Brian Kight, Andrew Webb and Doug Shafer.
4. BOYS' LATIN