Commentary

2012 Boys' Maryland Preview

Updated: March 3, 2012, 11:38 PM ET
By Tom Peace

Gordie Koerber, GilmanDoug Austin/ESPNHSGordie Koerber and Gilman (Baltimore, Md.) look to repeat as MIAA champions in 2012.
Maryland boasts several power conferences, and each year those heavyweights battle to see which is the best. The Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) is widely considered the best conference in the nation, but the IAC boasts its own national powers and Georgetown Prep (North Bethesda, Md.) and Landon (Bethesda, Md.) will be top teams again this season.

With such imposing private schools dominating the area, the Maryland public schools can get overshadowed at times, but plenty of teams like Hereford (Parkton, Md.), Quince Orchard (Gaithersburg, Md.) and South River (Edgewater, Md.) are always contenders.

The Starting Lineup

(Position: athlete, year, high school, city, state, college commitment)

G: Alex Joyce, Sr., Landon (Bethesda, Md.), Georgetown
LSM: Nick Fields, Jr., Bullis (Potomac, Md.), Johns Hopkins
LSM: Curt Brooks, Sr., Wootton (Rockville, Md.), Georgetown
D: Evan Connell, Sr., Calvert Hall (Baltimore), North Carolina
M: Deemer Class, Sr., Loyola-Blakefield (Towson, Md.), Duke
M: Spencer Parks, Sr., St. Paul's (Brooklandville, Md.), North Carolina
M: Jake Matthai, Sr., Gilman (Baltimore), North Carolina
F/O: Ted Demiris, Hereford (Parkton, Md.), Navy
A: Patrick Kelly, Sr., Calvert Hall (Baltimore), North Carolina
A: Gordie Koerber, Sr., Gilman (Baltimore), Denver

Sizing Up The Region

Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association

Boys' Latin (Baltimore) had a rough end to the 2011 season, losing to Gilman with less then a minute remaining in the MIAA semifinal game. Boys' Latin looks to rebound with 19 players returning. Mac Pons (Maryland) on defense, Ben Pridemore (Notre Dame) at midfield and Colin Heacock (Penn State) lead a talented junior class. Sophomores Shack Stanwick (Johns Hopkins) and Tally Bruno (Johns Hopkins) will contribute at midfield. Overall, 10 players are committed to Division I colleges, including senior attacker Greg Pyke, who is headed to Georgia for football. Head coach Bob Shriver, who could win his 450th career game this season, has a young squad, but the Lakers should be a tough team this season.

Calvert Hall was a team many expected to compete for a MIAA title in 2012, but when the Cardinals went 17-2 in 2011 and reached the conference title game it signaled the young team was ready. Heading into the 2012 season, Calvert Hall is the heavy favorite to win the MIAA A conference title and should be a Top 3 team in the FAB 50 rankings. Senior attackman Patrick Kelly (North Carolina) leads a team with 15 Division I commitments that also includes seniors Kelton Black (Johns Hopkins), Evan Connell (North Carolina), Ryan Brown (Johns Hopkins) and juniors Stephen "Bones" Kelly (North Carolina) and Garrett Epple (Notre Dame). The Cardinals have an impressive all around team and the squad's success this year all starts with how well senior goalie Jack Brust (Quinnipiac) plays.

Gilman is the defending MIAA A conference champion and even though the they lost Connor Doyle and Ryan Tucker, the Greyhounds still have a ton of firepower, plus incoming players from a very impressive junior varsity squad. Seniors Gordie Koerber (Denver), Jake Matthai (North Carolina) and Robby Haus (Ohio State) were named to the ESPNHS 100. The underclassman to keep and eye on this season is sophomore attackman Tyler Ruhl (Notre Dame). Ruhl scored 32 goals and had 23 assists last season. Some juniors to keep an eye on for the Greyhounds are attackmen Max Greene) who had 23 goals last spring), Zeke Morrill, middies Riley Desmit (Johns Hopkins) John Simms and goalie Thomas McBride. Coach Brooks Matthews is happy with the makeup of the team, " I think we have a chance to have a nice blend of experienced players and hungry, talented, new players."

Loyola Blakefield had a strong finish to 2011 after winning its final two games. Loyola-Blakefield has three seniors in the ESPNHS 100: midfielder Deemer Class (Duke), Connor Dalton (Fairfield) and middie Kacy Kapinos (Ohio State). Other notables include Top 50 Junior attackman Jake Clise (Maryland), senior ESPNHS Top 25 defender Matt Dunn (Maryland), senior Kyle Ricketts (Robert Morris) and midfielder T.J. Neubauer (Fairfield). Look for coach Jack Crawford's squad to make some noise in the MIAA-A conference in 2012.

McDonogh (Owings Mills, Md.) is a wild card every season and a team that has the potential to be a thorn in the side of the top squads in the conference. McDonogh loses nine players from last year's 15-4 team, but the Eagles have a strong core returning for the 2012 season with seniors Evan Glaser (Michigan) and Geoffery Davis (Denver) and junior Danny Sweeney (Villanova). McDonogh opens the season with two tough out of conference games against 2011 ESPNHS Powerade FAB 50 National Champions Haverford School (Haverford, Pa.) and Florida powerhouse Ponte Vedra (Fla.).

St. Mary's (Annapolis, Md.) went 13-8 overall and 9-7 in the MIAA last year. The Saints graduated stars Reed Carlson and Logan Connolly, but should be in good hands this season with seniors Nate Lewnes (UMBC), John Kluh (Villanova), and Michael Bonacci (Yale). Besides the MIAA schedule, the Saints have a tough out-of-conference schedule with Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.), Malvern Prep (Pa.) , Culver Academy (Culver, Ind.), Lake Forest (Ill.), and of course the annual private-public school battle between Severna Park (Md.).

St. Paul's is two years removed from winning the MIAA crown and is in search of getting back to the title game with the best player in the state in Spencer Parks (North Carolina). St. Paul's lost 11 players to graduation from last year's team. Though it should not be cause for concern as the Crusaders have a strong stable of guys to go along with Parks to keep St. Paul's in the playoff picture. Senior Gavin Llwellyn (Hobart), juniors Travis Wood (Johns Hopkins) and Michael Mayer (Georgetown) should provide some leadership to a very young St. Paul's team.

IAC

The IAC gets stronger every year and one of the reasons is because Bullis has built a great program and produced some impressive talent. The Bulldogs went 13-6 in 2011 with three big regular season wins over IAC teams Georgetown Prep, St. Stephens & St.Agnes (Alexandria, Va.) and Episcopal (Alexandria, Va.). The only big-time player to graduate from last year's team is defender John Kelly (Johns Hopkins), so the Bulldogs should have a complete team from top to bottom. The seniors to keep an eye on are Matt Opsahl (Hobart), Kylor Bellstri (Brown), and Nicholas Fisher (High Point). The junior class may boast the best defender in the country with Top 50 Junior Nick Fields (Johns Hopkins). Fields was the MVP of the Maryland region at the Warrior 40 tryouts last summer and was ranked No. 3 in the ESPNHS Top 50 Juniors.

Georgetown Prep (Bethesda, Md.) is a team that reloads every season. The Little Hoyas lost several big contributors from last years IAC Championship squad including, Bobby Gribbin (Maryland) and Cory Dobyns, but make no mistake about it the Hoyas will be a top team in 2012. Seniors Chris Hampton (Denver), Liam Giblin (Johns Hopkins) and ESPNHS 100 player and Top 25 attackman Matt Coppola (Denver) along with and Kyle Shanhan (Bucknell) lead a very balanced team with a strong underclass group. Aside from the IAC and MIAA teams, the Hoyas have an unusual schedule with new teams added from out of state including Lafayette (St. Joseph, Mo.), St. Xavier (Louisville, Ky.) and Half Hollow Hills East (Dix Hills, N.Y.).

Landon is coming off a heartbreaking 7-6 overtime loss to Georgetown Prep in the IAC title game. Landon had a remarkable season, going 19-3, and head coach Rob Bordley will have the Bears primed for another run at the IAC crown and a top ranking in the FAB 50. Senior Charlie Schnider (Maryland) and goalie Alex Joyce (Georgetown) are both ESPNHS 100 players and Mark Strabo (Princeton) will help anchor the midfield. The strength for the Bears this season will be their midfield. Landon has a strong crop of sophomores as well in Jack Falk (Virginia), Sam Lynch (Johns Hopkins), Andrew Mitchell and goalie Jack Prutting. Coach Bordley claims it's the best midfield he's had at Landon since the National Championship team from 2002 led by Matt Ward.

WCAC

DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) will have a solid defense this season, which will be anchored by senior defender Scott Sindall (Frostburg) and legit face-off specialists in Joe Sera and junior Garrett Hasken (Navy). Dematha has four players returning from last year's team, which finished 8-11. Though the strength is in this year's senior class, Jimmy Rogers (Manhatten), Michael Parker (Navy for soccer), Pat Hine (VMI), Bobby Bigelow (Hampden Sydney) and Matt Justice (Shenandoah) will be key contributors.

Head coach John Sothoron has been the head coach at St. Mary's Ryken (Leonardtown, Md.) for 24 years and has compiled a record of 356-122. Last season the Knights went 15-4 and return six starters from that team. Ryken will have a strong defense and will be stellar from the face-off line. The Knights have a mixture of great players in each class to give Ryken a strong chance at being a threat in the WCAC. Starting with the seniors Andrew Morgan, Troy Mendenhall (Wheeling Jesuit), Connor Summers (Randolph Macon) and juniors Nathan Blondino (Army), Romar Dennis (Loyola), Matty Yates, and attacker Daniel Long.

MLL and MD Independant

Calverton (Huntingtown, Md.) is another school that has a very good strength of schedule as they have a number of tough teams on the 2012 schedule. The Cougars will play the top teams from the MIAA and the IAC plus teams in Ohio and Illinois this season. The Cougars went 11-4 in 2011. The players who should have big seasons for Calverton are seniors Dylan Dooley (Ohio State), David Goodwin (Maryland), Teddy Secor (St. Mary's), and two juniors in Nick Mazza and James Rainer, both of whom are committed to Penn State.

Public Schools

Class 4A/3A

Bel Air (Bel Air, Md.) went 14-3 and reached the Class 3A/2A semifinals last season. Bel Air has been moved to the 4A/3A for the 2012 season and will look to advance further in the postseason this spring. The Bobcats got a boost this offseason when junior Tom Hollenback (Syracuse) transferred from Calvert Hall to play for Bel Air this season. The Bobcats have a good strength of schedule this season with games against Boys' Latin along with Fallston, South River and Patterson Mill.

Linganore (Frederick Md.) won its first ever state championship last season and returns goalie R.J. Tischler (Swarthmore), who had a great showing in the championship game, making seven saves. Though the team graduated a number of players from last season, the Lancers have a good crop of guys coming up through the ranks and will be led by senior attackmen Tyler Thompson and Alex Rice.

Quince Orchard (Gaithersburg, Md.) went 15-1 and was a state quarterfinalist last season. The Cougars returns four starters and are led by a senior- and junior-laden team, starting with defenders Billy Fierstein, Marty Heyn and Cameron Riddell. The Cougars will be strong on defense and should boast depth at midfield. The big question is whether the attack can the overcome the graduation of two All-Americans: Eric Simon (90 points) and Sean Holliday (90 points).

Sherwood (Sandy Spring, Md.) returns 20 players and four starters from a team that finished 13-3 and reached the 4A/3A West Region semifinals. The team returns Sean Prin at long stick midfielder and 6-foot-4 senior Blake Bonita at midfield.

South River (Edgewater, Md.) finished 16-4 last season and was a goal away from winning the state championship last season and returns a squad for 2012 that has a chance to get back to the title game and win it all. South River is a great example of a well-balanced team, a team with good speed and conditioning. The defense should be solid with two returning close defenders and two defensive middies. South River returns one of the best attackmen in the state in ESPNHS Top 50 Junior Ben Chisolm (Maryland). The key this season will be for the underclassmen to step up into open midfield and attack positions. Other than Chisolm, keep an eye out for junior defenders Stephen Hincks (Navy) and Tyler King and senior Jordan Kneisly.

After an undefeated (20-0) state championship two seasons ago, Severna Park (Annapolis, Md.) went 12-6 in 2011. Severna Park was young last season, but should be ready for another run at the state title this spring. Coach Larry Kramer will navigate his team through tough games against South River, Chesapeake A-A, and the three MIAA teams in the area Severn, Archbishop Spalding, and St. Mary's Annapolis. Senior Steven Cosgrove (St. Vincent) will hold down the midfield and provide leadership. Junior defender Billy Bollhurst will be ready to go for a strong season.

Wootton went 12-6 in 2011 and did well with a young team last spring -- making a run in the state playoffs by winning the West 4A/3A region championship. Star defender Curt Brooks (Georgetown) is back for his senior year for the Patriots as well as Chris Cornelius (Lynchburg) at midfield.

Class 3A/2A

Hereford looks to win its fifth straight state championship in 2012. Hereford will have depth, running 12 to 14 midfielders per game. The roster is flooded with star talent and players that will be tough to stop in 2012. Starting with senior ESPNHS top face-off man Ted Demeirs (Navy). Demiris won 79 percent of his face-offs as a first-year starter for the Bulls. After Demeris there is Morgan Pritchett, Austin Brown and Will Bittner. The junior class boasts Jack Adams and Joe Seider who are committed to Towson and both were ESPNHS Top 50 Juniors. With the new MIAA alignment Hereford will have a date with St. Paul's.

Glenelg (Md.) won the Class 2A/1A Maryland state championship last season with a one-goal victory over Patterson Mill. The Gladiators went 19-1 in 2011 with big regular-season wins over Hereford and Severna Park, but this season the Gladiators will play in Class 3A/2A. Glenelg returns one of the best attackmen in the state in Nick Wynne. Other players to watch for on the Gladiators this spring are defender Ben Carta, Clark Smith, Daine Van de Wall and Patrick O'Brien.

Kent Island (Stevensville, Md.) were the 2011 3A/2A East region champions last spring and will be led by ESPNHS Top 25 midfielder Colin Flounlacker (Navy) in addition to LSM Ben Goodrich (Navy).

Marriotts Ridge (Marriottsville, Md.) went 15-3 in 2011 as the Mustangs captured the 3A/2A South region crown and will be a tough team to beat in 2012. Look for the Mustangs to be in the thick of it with rivals River Hill (Columbia, Md.) and Glenelg. The Mustangs will be led by senior middies Duncan Campbell and Sean Harrison along with Sam McCoy.

Middletown (Md.) came a long way last season, reaching the state finals and having one of their best seasons with a 15-2 record. With the amount of talent coming back from last season, the Knights have a balanced team. ESPNHS Top 25 attackman Johnny Galloway (Villanova) leads the way with middie Christian Ottenritter (Providence), defenseman Dan Goldstein (Villanova), middie Luke Verdi (MIT), junior goalie Max Edelman and face-off guy Cody Martin.

Queen Annes (Centreville, Md.) move up to Class 3A/2A East region this season after going 14-4 and winning the Class 2A/1A East region championship. The question will be how the Lions will move on without Tyler German (Virginia) at midfield.

Walkersville (Md.) went 8-8 last spring, which would have to be a letdown, but Walkersville had not had an eight-win season since 2005. A disappointing loss to Century in the playoffs sent the Lions home, forcing a coaching change as Dick Schading replaces K.R. Shultz. This year's Walkersville team returns some talented players who should help get the Lions back to their winning ways. The most notable player to return for his senior season is ESPNHS Top 25 defenseman Joey Pfister (Jacksonville).

Winters Mill (Westminster, Md.) makes the jump from Class 2A/1A to 3A/2A this season and will be in the same class with Walkersville and Middletown. Winters Mill has a senior defender and long-stick midfielder in Teddy Chase who should help the defense. Junior Chase Cullison and senior Spenser Love should improve upon the seasons they had last year.

Class 2A/1A

Fallston (Md.) Fallston went 15-3 last year and look to reach the next level this season with a good squad returning. The Cougars have moved from Class 3A/2A to 2A/1A, which takes a yearly game with Hereford off the schedule and provides a better path to a state championship. ESPNHS Top 25 LSM Zach Esser (UMBC) leads the way for the Cougars. The Cougars have a tough schedule this year with dates against MIAA powers St. Paul's and Boys' Latin and an out-of-state game with Yorktown (N.Y.).

Patterson Mill (Bel Air, Md.) head coach Jason Bellamy has put together something special, as the Huskies will be entering their fourth year as a lacrosse program. Patterson Mill has had a winning season every year since 2009, which is uncommon for a new program. Last spring the Huskies (12-7, 6-0 in conference in 2011) reached the state finals and won the 2A/1A South region championship. The Huskies have a very impressive goalie in senior Joseph Kuhn (Florida Southern) and defender/long stick middie Tony Roney (York).

South Carroll (Sykesville, Md.) returns six starters from last seasons 13-3 team and 14 from the overall roster. The Cavaliers will be anchored on the defensive side of the field by four-year starting goalie Taylor Schmitz (Frostburg) and two crafty defensemen in Chad Slifer and David Culllop. The attack took a hit with captains Ben McCarty (Towson) and Chris Frederick (Drexel) graduating, so the defense and Schmitz will need to play well to give the inexperienced attack time to catch up.

Underclassemen To Watch

(Position: athlete, year, high school (State), college commitment)

Attack: Bear Altemus, Jr., Georgetown Prep, Princeton; Weston Butcher, Soph., Calverton (Penn State); Ben Chisholm, South River, Maryland; Jake Clise, Jr., Loyola-Blakefield, Maryland; Colin Heacock, Jr., Boys' Latin, Penn State; Tyler Ruhl, Soph., Gilman, Notre Dame; Joe Seider, Jr., Hereford, Towson; Shack Stanwick, Soph., Boys' Latin, Johns Hopkins; Taylor Valencia, Jr., Landon, Delaware;

Midfield: Jack Adams, Jr., Hereford, Towson; Townsend Brown, Soph., Georgetown Prep, Virginia; Tally Bruno, soph., Boys' Latin, Johns Hopkins; Romar Dennis, Jr., St. Mary's Ryken, Loyola; Jack Falk, Soph., Landon, Virginia; Sam Lynch, Soph., Landon, Johns Hopkins; Nick Mazza, Jr., Calverton, Penn State; Dylan McDermott, Jr., South Carroll; Ben Pridemore, Jr., Boys' Latin, Notre Dame

LSM: Mike Mayer, Jr., St. Paul's, Georgetown; Ryan Norton, Jr., Georgetown Prep, Harvard,

Defense: Garrett Epple, Jr., Calvert Hall, Ohio State; Andrew Mitchell, soph., Landon; Mac Pons, Jr., Boys' Latin, Maryland

Goalie:Conor Cunningham, Jr., Hereford, Hofstra; Max Edelman, Jr., Middletown, Nick Ramsey, Soph., DeMatha, Jack Prutting, Soph., Landon

Faceoff: Garrett Hasken, Jr., DeMatha, Navy; Stephen Kelly, Jr., Calvert Hall, North Carolina

Games To Watch

March 10: Lovett (Atlanta) vs. Calvert Hall, Brine King of Spring
March 17: Malvern Prep at Loyola-Blakefield (Towson, Md.)
March 20: St. Andrew's (Boca Raton, Fla.) vs. Boys' Latin (Baltimore)
March 23: Gilman (Baltimore) vs. Hereford (Parkton, Md.)
March 31: Manhasett (N.Y) vs. Calvert Hall
April 3: Conestoga (Berwyn, Pa.) vs. Boys' Latin
April 5: Gilman at Haverford School (Haverford, Pa.)

How This Region Affects The FAB 50

The big question in Maryland this year is will the new MIAA format work? At the end of last year the coaches from the MIAA-A conference met and voted on making the conference a one-division conference instead of breaking up into two divisions. The new layout for one of the toughest high school leagues in the country allows teams to play each other once as well as playing public school teams in the state, DC teams, and more out-of-state games.

Expect that change to impact the POWERADE FAB 50 rankings for more than just Maryland as teams from Florida, New York and Pennsylvania will be impacted as the MIAA plays more teams.