Friday, January 27, 2012 Updated: March 3, 12:11 AM ET
2012 Boys' Southeast Region Preview
By Mike Loveday
The Southeast is loaded with lacrosse talent, including St. Andrew's Connor Whipple
ESPNHS launches its 2012 region previews with a look at the Southeast, which is one of the more interesting regions in the country due to the multiple matchups between interstate teams.
Florida gets underway in two weeks and boasts three teams that were in the POWERADE FAB 50 last season: Lake Highland Prep, St. Andrew's and Ponte Vedra. The talent in the Southeast is undeniable with two Warrior 40 alumni and five players who were listed in the ESPNHS 100 or the ESPNHS Top 50 Juniors.
Every week on Wednesday, ESPNHS will release a new boys' high school lacrosse region preview, culminating with the release of our State Rankings on March 5 and POWERADE FAB 50 rankings on March 7.
Florida: Boca Raton (Fla.) finished 18-2 last season and returns nine starters from the team that reached the regional finals. And Junior goalie Nick Martin (Delaware) returns. The Boca defense should be strong with senior defender Kyle Dingle along with midfielders Connor Cecil and Greg Swanson returning. Bolles (Jacksonville, Fla.) returns five starters from last year's team, including senior defenseman Zach Ashourian and midfielder Alex Ruiz. The Bulldogs have won at least 10 games every year since 2005 and look to be a young team this season with three juniors expected to see significant playing time. Bartram Trail (St. John's, Fla.) returns eight starters from a team that reached the District 3 final. The entire offense returns, including attackers Preston Pena and Tyler Sellers. Lake Highland Prep (Orlando, Fla.) won the Florida state championship last season and returns seven starters. Top 50 Junior, Devon Lewis (Georgetown), leads a talented midfield and attacker Austin Tamayo leads the Highlanders offense. Mandarin (Jacksonville, Fla.) has won more games in each of head coach Janine Brand's two years (4, 7) after taking over a program that had not won a game in two years. Sophomore Jonathon Dister is expected to take on a larger role on attack. Ponte Vedra (Fla.) returns six starters from last year's state semifinal team, including Navy commit Brendan Francis at attack. Overall, nine players on the Sharks roster have committed to play college lacrosse and much of the roster are players that started the program in 2009. St. Andrew's (Boca Raton, Fla.) finished as state runners-up last season and returns 24 players, including six starters. Warrior 40 alumni Max Susskind returns at midfield along with junior Grant Mahler. Junior attacker Conor Whipple totaled 98 points last season. The Saints should have depth this season with 12 upperclassmen on defense and nine at midfield. St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) reached the second round play-in round before falling to St. Andrew's last season. Returning in 2012 is junior defender Nick Beekhuizen who made the All-Star game at the Battle of the Hotbeds recruiting camp last summer and Navy commit Burke Harrington at midfield. The entire defense from last season returns and head coach Terry Crowley expects it to be even stronger with the addition of assistant coach Jeff Goldberg who won 14 state championships while head coach at St. Andrew's. Winter Park (Fla.) returns senior and Syracuse commit Sergio Salcido at midfield and also returns defender Hunter Chadwick.
Georgia:Lambert (Suwanee, Ga.) enters just its third season as a program, but is the defending Class 4A state champion and reached the semifinals in 2010. Defense should be strong with three players committed to Division I programs: Colin Massa (Delaware), Braxton Roman (High Point) and Grant Schuster (Navy). The midfield returns a very strong Midfield, with six of its first nine back from last year including our two top scorers, including High Point commit Zack Price. Lovett School (Atlanta) finished 16-4 last season and returns seven starters, including Warrior 40 alumnus, Jordan Cunningham on defense. High Point commit, Cory Palmer leads the offense along with Jordan's brothers, Kyle (attack) and Tyler (midfield). Milton (Ga.) returns three starters from last season's 5A state championship team. The offense should be strong with Mercer commit Ben Jackson returning. Goalie Jackson Cate returns in goal.
North Carolina: Broughton (Raleigh, N.C.) will have strong goalie play this year with the return of Austen Johnson. Overall, three starters return from the 12-6 team. Charlotte Country Day (Charlotte, N.C.) is the four-time defending NCISAA state champion and returns four starters this year. Juniors Robert Engel and Michael Radford along with senior Ben Lucas will anchor the offense. Durham Academy (N.C.) returns seven starters from a team that reached the NCISAA state championship game last season, including starting goalie, Braxton Carr. The team returns five of its top eight scorers from last year. Durham Jordan (Durham, N.C.) expects to have a high-octane offense this year with the return of its first two midfield lines from last year's 15-5 team. Marquette commit Sam Lindsey anchors the offense after totaling 155 career points in three varsity seasons. Lake Norman Charter (Huntersville, N.C.) returns nine staters and 24 players from last year's 10-6 team. Led by last year's Conference Player-of-the-Year, Jake Koferl and Andrew Gobble at midfield, the Knights expect to have depth in the midfield. Senior goalie John Clark returns and looks to add to his 314 career saves. Myers Park (Charlotte, N.C.) returns 21 players, including eight starters, from last year's 11-6 squad. Offense should be strong this year with the return of Air Force commit, Reid Foley and junior Drew Ortiz.
Southeast Defending Champions
AL: Spain Park
FL: Lake Highland Prep
GA (4A): Lambert
GA (5A): Walton
N.C. (NCHSAA): Northwest Guilford
N.C. (NCISAA): Charlotte Country Day
S.C.: Fort Mill
TN (DI): Memphis University School
TN (DII): Pope John Paul II
South Carolina: Greenville (S.C.) has reached the state championship game for the past seven years and has won six titles in that time. The Red Raiders will have a new head coach this season as Marc Handel takes over for former coach Shane LeCroy who will start the program at Christchurch. Greenville returns five starters, including seniors Joshy Voyles, Will Tabor and David Pollard. Fort Mill (S.C.) returns 15 players, including six starters, from last year's state championship team. Connor Crutchfield, Mitch Russell and Trevor Wylie return to lead an experienced attack. The team's defense will be young to start the season.
Tennessee: The big news in Tennessee lacrosse this year may be that there will only be one state champion crowned rather than two as it has been in previous years. With the consolidation of Division I and II into the State Championship Division it could put even more focus on the top three schools in the state. McCallie (Chattanooga, Tenn.) finished 8-8 last season, but the 10-time state champion program should be back in contention this season. Head coach Troy Kemp returns seven starters, including two starting defenseman and Jacksonville commit Bass Barfield in goal. Memphis University School (Memphis, Tenn.) won the Division I championship last season and returns its top two leading scorers. ESPNHS Top 50 Junior Peyton Klawinski (North Carolina) led the team with 55 points and has earned First Team All-State honors in each of the last two season. Team captain and leading goal scorer James Duke returns as well. Montgomery Bell (Memphis, Tenn.) returns seven starters from last year's state runner up. The Big Red's midfield and defense is expected to be strong with seniors Mattison Hamilton (midfield), Augie Houghton (defense) and John Morphis (defense).
Underclassemen To Watch
(Position: athlete, year, high school (State), college commitment)Goalie: Ben Flood, Soph., Lovett (Ga.); Grant Mahler, Jr., St. Andrew's (Fla.), Cornell; Chip Ryan, Jr., Ponte Vedra (Fla.); Kevin Victory, Jr., Greenville (S.C.);
Attack: Brier Davis, Jr., McCallie (Tenn.); Jonathon Dister, Soph., Mandarin (Fla.); George Ehlers, Jr., McCallie (Tenn.); Reid Foley, Jr., Myers Park (N.C.), Air Force; Jake Jenkins, Soph., Milton (Ga.); Cody Legeza, Jr., Ponte Vedra (Fla.); Christopher Reese, Jr., Greenville (S.C.); Alex Thompson, Jr., Durham Academy (N.C.); Jarred Wellem, Jr., Milton (Ga.); Conor Whipple, Jr., St. Andrew's (Fla.); Alston White, Jr., Loveett (Ga.)
Midfield: Slater Daniels, Soph., Durham Academy (N.C.); Walty Feisal , Soph., Greenville (S.C.); Michael Haueisen, Jr., Bolles (Fla.); Cole Houghton, Soph., McCallie (Tenn.); Spencer Lee, Jr., Lovett (Ga.); Dalton Lemaster, Jr., Ponte Vedra (Fla.); Davis Lindsey, Jr., Bolles (Fla.); Evan Murray, Durham Academy (N.C.); Remy Rea, Jr., Memphis University School (Tenn.); Adam Stenson, Jr., Bolles (Fla.); Chad Toliver, Soph., McCallie (Tenn.);
LSM: Samuel Bamigboye, Soph., Montgomery Bell (Tenn.); Fischer Anderson, Jr., Ponte Vedra (Fla.); Randon Hassell, Jr., Lake Norman Charter (N.C.); Will Rainer, Jr., Memphis University School (Tenn.)
Defense: Nick Beekhuizen, Jr., St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.); Nick Buckley, Jr., Ponte Vedra (Fla.); Jason Weprin, Jr., St. Andrew's (Fla.); Andew Wilson, Soph., Lovett (Ga.)
Games To Watch
March 10: Highland Park (University Park, Texas) vs. Charlotte Country Day (N.C.), Brine King of the Spring
March 10: Lovett School (Ga.) vs. Calvert Hall (Baltimore, Md.), Brine King of the Spring
March 17: Ponte Vedra (Fla.) vs. McDonogh (Owings Mills, Md.) at High Point
March 20: St. Andrew's (Fla.) vs. Boys' Latin (Baltimore, Md.)
March 31: Milton (Ga.) at Ponte Vedra (Fla.)
April 3: Milton (Ga.) at Bolles (Fla.)
How This Region Affects The FAB 50
The interstate matchups will be interesting to watch.
Games between Florida and Maryland teams, Tennessee and North Carolina and Georgia going against Florida as well as Maryland will provide a measuring stick for the entire region..
The Brine King of Spring Face-off Classic once again brings teams from Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, Texas and Virginia to Durham, N.C., and provides several interesting matchups.
Two games early in the season will pit teams from last year's POWERADE FAB 50 against each other: Ponte Vedra (Fla.) plays McDonogh (Md.) at High Point and Florida championship runners-up St. Andrew's (Fla.) plays Boys' Latin (Md.) on March 20.