He's a stickler for detail

Glenelg Country's Andrew Walls has dedicated himself to becoming a shut-down defender.

March 29, 2006|By GLENN GRAHAM | GLENN GRAHAM,SUN REPORTER

The game-day routine of Glenelg Country School lacrosse standout Andrew Walls began in his freshman year: Play hard, smart defense, then watch and learn.

"My dad has taped just about every high school and club game I've played. So I'll go home and watch the tape to see what I can do to improve," said Walls, a junior defenseman who earned second-team All-County honors last season.

"If I get beat one-on-one, I look at it and say, `Where were my feet and where should they have been?' And when I make a good play, it's like, `OK, let's keep that in my head, so when I'm on the field the next time, I can do it again.' Watching the tape is important, but you have to implement it into your game."

Many more times than not, Walls, a 6-foot-2 position defender, is at the right place to disrupt any ideas would-be attackers have on the Dragons' goal. With the physical tools accompanying the stick skills he acquired when he played midfield in his earlier days of lacrosse, Walls has played a big role in leading Glenelg Country to the past two Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association C Conference crowns.

Although Glenelg Country coach Tom Marechek takes note of all the assets Walls brings to the Dragons' defense -size, speed, strong stick checks, good positioning and the ability to get the team going in transition - there's one that stands out.

"The main thing that has impressed me with Andrew is how poised he is," Marechek said. "He picks up ground balls very confidently, then looks up the field and gets us going in transition. That's something where you have it or you don't - something you can't teach - and he seems to have that part down."

Walls also played soccer and basketball while growing up, but lacrosse became his priority in middle school when he attended a summer camp at Johns Hopkins and began playing for the Baltimore Elite Lacrosse Club.

He still plays soccer in the fall for the Dragons but has traded in basketball for lifting weights in the winter. The soccer skills have helped him in lacrosse.

"Soccer is all footwork with all the moves you have to do, and when you break it down, that's basically all defense is in lacrosse - moving your feet and keeping good positioning," said Walls, who maintains a 3.6 grade point average and already has drawn interest from Johns Hopkins, North Carolina and a number of other Division I lacrosse programs.

The Dragons have had more than their share of success in the C Conference, winning four titles and reaching five championship games since 1999. They are making the jump to the B Conference this season, which will bring more competition. After losing only four seniors from last year's team, Walls is looking for the Dragons to make a strong first impression.

"I think our team is ready for it," he said. "It's just how hard everyone wants to work for it. We're going to have to use our athleticism a little more, be a little more aggressive on defense."

What the Dragons will leave behind in the C Division is a big rivalry with Chapelgate Christian. The teams have met in the past three title games. One thing is certain: Chapelgate coach Darrel Drown won't miss having to plan an attack that is geared toward staying away from Walls.

"He's a shut-down guy," Drown said. "We put our best guy out there and he's shut us down the last couple years. He's very quick and strong, so if you put a big guy with him and try to bull your way to the goal, it doesn't work. And you can have a lightning-quick guy with him and that doesn't work either. You just have to find somewhere else to get your goals."

Walls has developed into a Division I prospect through hard work and repetition.

"You have to practice things until it becomes second nature," said Walls, who often will fire 100 repetitions at a wall using both hands almost every day. "It's to a point now where on clears, I don't have to look at the ball - it'll just fall right in my stick and then it'll be up the field. A lot of that is from just going up against a wall or messing around in the back yard."

He knows his father is always there at home to throw the ball around with, too, albeit a bit unconventionally.

"Growing up in Texas, football was king and baseball was second, so I never saw lacrosse until we moved here 13 years ago," said his father, Thurman T. Walls. "I can't use a lacrosse stick, so I'll just get the old baseball glove out and we'll throw around for about an hour. I look forward to that time with him because it's a chance to see what's going on with him in school and other stuff. It's quality time and helps with his lacrosse."

glenn.graham@baltsun.com

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