Mount Hebron's Michael wary of assuming favorite's mantle Vikings lost some stars, but superb replacements look ready to step up

Local Sports : High School Lacrosse Preview

March 21, 1996|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

The hands-down choice to win this season's county championship is last season's state finalist, Mount Hebron. Every opposing coach in Howard County says so. But you won't catch Vikings coach Warren Michael saying that.

"I don't see how they can pick us as the team to beat," Michael said. "We lost our whole defense [Shane Campbell, Mike Tittsworth, Todd Petrlik]. We lost our best player [The Baltimore Sun's Howard County Player of the Year and first-team All-Metro Scott Baughman]. And we lost two of our three top scorers [Dan Carver, 37 goals, 19 assists, and Ben Savage, 38-28]."

That adds up to four first-team and two second-team All-County players graduated from a team that won the county title and went 14-2, before losing 12-11 to Arundel in overtime in the Class 3A-4A state final.

While those losses are tangible, the Vikings also have a bunch of quality players returning.

For instance, there is fourth-year attackman and co-captain Jeremy DeSor, who will play at Dartmouth next season. He scored 28 goals and had 15 assists and was second-team All-County.

Co-captain and fourth-year midfielder Terrence Buckley is back, along with two other fourth-year players, midfielders Brent Wilhoite (nine goals, nine assists) and Mike McCarthy who has switched from attack.

The Vikings have quality and quantity in the goal, led by last season's starter, Brian Lea, who saved 69 percent (146-210).

In seven league games last season the Vikings allowed only 37 goals and never allowed 10 even in the triple-overtime victory against rival and county runner-up Centennial that the Vikings won, 10-9.

Lea, who transferred from Hammond last season, is backed up by senior Sean McDowell and junior Shawn Baird.

McDowell's half-brother, Tom Minard, has joined the Vikings as an assistant coach this season.

Mount Hebron's attack will have the luxury of five players who can catch and throw with either hand, including DeSor, seniors Eric Mooney and Justin Hanson, junior James Thomas and sophomore Kyle Campbell.

What that group lacks in returning goals, it should make up for with its pure athleticism.

"This is our most athletic team ever," said Michael, who begins his ninth and final season as coach. "So far in scrimmages our offense could have played better. It needs to make better decisions."

Mount Hebron defeated Annapolis (15-5), Dulaney (11-5) and St. Alban's (11-4) in its scrimmages, but lost to Loyola (7-1).

One potential weakness over last season is inferior depth at midfield. Last season, the Vikings ran three midfields and this season they have only two.

"Our midfielders will definitely be tired at the end of games," Michael said.

Buckley, Wilhoite and Damon Cuzmanes will run the first midfield, with Hak Kim, McCarthy and Mike Huppman on the RTC second midfield. Cuzmanes has lacrosse scholarship offers from Delaware and Massachusetts.

First-year player John Smith, the quarterback on the football team, will play a long stick.

The defense is brand new, but filled with rugged quality athletes that should erase Mount Hebron's reputation as a purely finesse team.

Junior Mike Stromberg was an All-County soccer player and performed well for the basketball team. The others are senior Peter Yim, junior Mike Machiran and 6-foot-4, 220-pound senior Dave Jaeger, all three of whom played football.

"Our defense has played well so far in scrimmages," Michael said. "For the first time we have a very physical team."

Michael pinned Mount Hebron's failure to put away Arundel in the state finals last season on the Vikings' inability to play a physical style.

The Vikings face a tough schedule in this first open playoff season.

"Broadneck is supposed to be tops in Anne Arundel County, and we play in their tournament," Michael said.

Mount Hebron will play last season's No. 1-ranked Gilman, April 20 at 2 p.m., in the Showdown at Hopkins that features four of the top boys teams in the area.

Boys' Latin will play North Harford in the other game.

Four top girls teams will also play that day, including Mount Hebron.

If all goes well, Michael would win his 100th game as Mount Hebron's coach on April 1 against Mount St. Joe, the only team other than Arundel to beat the Vikings last season, a 9-8 overtime defeat.

In eight seasons, Michael's teams are 97-29 and have won six regional, five county and two state (1988, 1991) titles, losing in the state finals in 1992 and 1995.

Mount Hebron's top challenge may come from Glenelg, which returns junior midfielder Conner Pett (29, eight), senior attackman Greg Edell (23, 53) and sophomore midfielder Beau Pich (21, 13).

Atholton also has a veteran returning squad, led by first-team All-County midfielder Tim Buscher (24 goals, 11 assists, 181 ground balls, 62 percent of faceoffs), and senior attackmen Mitch Treese (25, 14) and John Pramik (26, nine).

Oakland Mills (14-3) led by Matt Rollman (32, 45), and Hammond, led by first-team All-County defenseman Dave Friedman, who signed early with Towson State, also have hopes for strong seasons.

Centennial (13-3) is an unknown factor after graduating all but one starter.

#

Preseason top 15

1. St. Mary's

2. St. Paul's

3. Gilman

4. Boys' Latin

5. Loyola

6. Severn

7. Broadneck

8. Annapolis

9. Dulaney

10. McDonogh

11. Calvert Hall

12. Arundel

13. Mount Hebron

14. Catonsville

15. John Carroll

Pub Date: 3/21/96

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