Few coaches are as self-deprecating as Mike Siegert.
When Centennial was concluding its best regular season in a decade, Siegert, the Eagles' 15-year boys lacrosse coach, said, "I let [Assistant Coach Bill] McDermott take care of the tough stuff. All I worry about is the [team] laundry and making sure the kids get on the bus."
When he learned that the Eagles had qualified for the postseason for the first time since 1982, Siegert said, "It's been so long since we've made it that I've forgotten how it works."
Siegert's quips and affability sometimes obscure the fact that he is a studious, accomplished coach. He also was the architect of Centennial's 12-3 season, which didn't end until the Eagles reached the Class 3A/4A state semifinals against defending champ Dulaney.
"I can look back on the season with pride, knowing that we finally turned the corner," said Siegert, a math teacher at Centennial who is the Howard County Sun's Coach of the Year.
Siegert earned as many points for perseverance as he did for team preparation and smart game plans. The Eagles won state-regional championships in 1980 and 1981, made the playoffs the following year, then began a decade marked mostly by mediocrity.
Almost always a good defensive team, the Eagles usually were an offensive weapon or two shy of contender status. This year, Centennial finally broke from the middle of the pack with a solid, 6-1 finish in the county, its only loss coming to league champion Mount Hebron.
From there, the Eagles beat South Carroll and upset C. Milton Wright to win the regional championship, before falling to Dulaney in the state semifinals.
"I thought we had a good group of kids coming in," Siegert said. "I knew we had two excellent players and hard workers in [attackman] Cullen [Meade] and [midfielder] Werner [Krueger]. I also felt like we had a different kind of attitude from the beginning."
The Eagles started modestly with a 1-1 record, including a 10-5 setback to C. Milton Wright. Then they began a six-game winning streak that turned them into a county title contender and a play off team. Centennial outscored its opposition, 54-10, in that stretch.
After dropping an 11-7 decision to Hebron, the Eagles finished with 11-5 victories over Oakland Mills and Glenelg and a 12-5 rout of Hammond.
Meade and Krueger were the keys to Centennial's season, but Siegert coaxed good performances out of their supporting cast. Bill Alborn became a fine attackman. Ryan Scavo turned into an effective complement to defenseman Andy Armiger. And junior Will Hong emerged to become one of the county's better goalies.
Siegert also played a direct role in Centennial's success with his preparation. Nowhere was that more apparent than in the regional final against C. Milton Wright.
Using a spread offense that slowed the game to a crawl, the Eagles held the ball and frustrated the Mustangs long enough to forge a 6-6 tie at the end of regulation. Centennial then knocked off the top-seeded Mustangs, 7-6, in double overtime.
"After the first South Carroll game [a season-opening, 8-3 victory], the kids started to believe we could be successful. And it was important that we went into the playoffs on the right note," Siegert said. "It was a combination of factors. We had some impressive outings early against some weaker teams that gave us confidence, and we had good senior leadership."
The Eagles also had the Coach of the Year.