Foes, but friends, too

Lacrosse: Gilman's Damien Davis and McDonogh's Joe Rosenbaum share much in common, and in competition. They meet again today.


As a defensive end on McDonogh's football team last fall, Joe Rosenbaum might have tried to drill Gilman running back Damien Davis if given the chance.

But in wrestling last winter, Rosenbaum sought Davis' counsel against a common opponent.

Today at 4 p.m. on Gilman's lacrosse field, the two seniors will be directing their respective defenses in a matchup of the area's top-ranked teams. Rosenbaum leads No. 1-ranked McDonogh (17-2) against Davis' No. 2-ranked Gilman (10-3) in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference regular-season finale for both teams.

Even if Gilman and McDonogh don't meet again this season, the athletic careers of Davis and Rosenbaum won't stop intertwining. The two "A" students rank among the nation's top five lacrosse defensemen and are headed for three-time NCAA lacrosse champion Princeton next season.

"If you ask Damien, he'd say we're pretty good friends but very competitive," said Rosenbaum. "But the competition is really the day after, when you see the results. I'm always checking the paper to see what Damien's been doing -- how he's wrestling, how many goals and assists his attackman had."

Last season's Gilman-McDonogh lacrosse game summary was hardly typical. The Greyhounds won, 13-12, after 10 ties and nearly two full overtimes.

Davis has bragging rights for most wins in the sports they play. His lacrosse teams are 5-0 against Rosenbaum's, and his football teams, 2-1. They've never met on the mat, but Davis' Gilman is 4-0 in dual meets against McDonogh.

Davis stands 6 feet 2 and Davis weighs 205; Rosenbaum is 6-2, 190. Each won MIAA wrestling crowns last winter.

"I probably wrestled Joe five times in junior leagues -- beat him every time," said Davis. "But it's weird that as much as we've played the same sports in high school, we've never actually gone head-to- head."

Said Rosenbaum, "Our football scouting report didn't really have me following Damien or anything, which I think is one of the more interesting aspects of our competition, that we never go head-to-head."

At Princeton, things will remain that way.

Princeton coach Bill Tierney calls Davis "a cover guy who'll be able to personally defend anybody out there" and Rosenbaum "more of a defensive midfielder, so that's where we're looking at him. His stick skills and knowledge of the game make him very versatile."

St. Paul's coach Rick Brocato called the two defenders "the league's two most respected."

Said Boys' Latin attackman Dan Lamonica: "These guys have the size, speed and footwork to do just about anything they want on the field."

St. Mary's attack-middie Chris Summers said that "one-on-one, I think Damien's the hardest defenseman to play against. He just pushes people around, or knocks the ball loose. You don't want to take him on too much, because he's probably the fastest player in our league."

`His feet never stop'

Called "the consummate defenseman" by league director Rick Diggs, Davis, who also will play football at Princeton, has 4.5-second speed in the 40-yard dash.

Likewise, Rosenbaum "becomes a racehorse with the ball in his stick," said Gilman coach Dave Allen. "First, you see him bursting down the sideline, then he hits the next gear, maybe creates a four-on-three. His feet never stop moving. He's able to check and run."

Boys' Latin coach Bob Shriver called Rosenbaum "the best defender in the league" after Rosenbaum keyed one of two wins over the Lakers last season.

"On the wings, during faceoffs, playing defense, making the big clears, Joey was all over the field," Shriver said.

Yet each player has toned his game down for the sake of his team.

Davis has nearly 100 take-aways, has scooped more than 70 ground balls and made over 40 clears. "But being the most experienced defenseman, I try to cover mistakes, try to keep everything flowing," Davis said. "I try to be more of a leader."

McDonogh coach Jake Reed said of Rosenbaum: "This year, Joe doesn't have to be flashy for us to be successful, and he's gotten better as a team player."

In fact, Rosenbaum's 93 ground balls are down from last season.

"Where he had to take the ball away in the past, now he can use his quickness to stay with the guy and disrupt their game," Reed said. "It's an important role, though not as highly visible."

Despite their rivalry, the seniors want to be on the same team.

"I played with Joe on Bay State the past few years. He's real athletic -- takes the ball away to neutralize your best attackman. He's never really out of position," Davis said.

"We read each other well, so it's almost like we're teammates," he added. "It's almost like the relationship I had with Will Brassell [at Gilman] last year. And in lacrosse, it takes a couple of years to get something like that down."

Rosenbaum agreed.

"Two athletes on the other attackmen?" he said. "There's going to be nowhere to hide."

Pub Date: 5/07/99

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