The Varsity Lax Bros: A Long and Winding Season
Jason Klaiber and Ryan Pike
Features Editor and Commentary Editor
The Jamesville-DeWitt High School Varsity Boys Lacrosse team has been a national powerhouse the last two seasons. They had a 44-game winning streak and have won two straight state championships. However, this year’s team has gotten off to a slower start. The team currently sits at 11-3, with losses against nationally-ranked teams Niskayuna, Duxberry (MA) and Fairport.
“We got off to a rocky start because of some injuries,” said Head Coach Jamie Archer; “Team chemistry wasn’t really quite there with those injuries. I think right now the chemistry is the best its been in a long time.” He said that this year’s non-league schedule was the toughest it’s ever been at J-DHS, in an effort to prepare the squad for a long playoff run. “I think we’ve started off a little rough, but lately we’ve picked up our intensity and we’ve started to get some quality wins,” said junior Jeff Edwards; “Our focus at the beginning of the year wasn’t as high as we would like.” The losses against Niskayuna and Duxberry came in the first five games of the 17-game regular season. “I think that those [losses] are valuable learning experiences for the teams,” said student assistance counselor Will Hartley, director of lacrosse operations for the team; “They had a very good win against perennial powerhouse West Genesee. I think they’re getting back into the flow they want to be in at this point in the year.” The team’s best win of the season was that game against West Genessee on April 21, relatively late in the season.
Coach Archer thinks that injuries led to the team’s early-season losses. “I don’t think you can isolate one [issue], but as a whole team not everyone’s hearts were into it [early on],” said junior Jamie McBurney. Junior Mike Perkins thinks the team started off with some tough games, but feels they’ve gotten through it. He believes the Red Rams have “an awesome chance” to bring home a third straight state championship. Sophomore Griffin Feiner is more blunt: “We’ll win states.”
This year’s team is very different from last year’s squad. “I’d say our offense has a lot more firepower than last year’s team,” said junior Joe Shapiro. Perkins said that this year’s team is completely different from last year’s. “A lot of people think because we were good last year we’ll be good this year and that’s not how it works,” he said. “I think this year’s team has more depth, but less playmakers,” said junior Mike Mulvihill; “I think we’re pretty united.” Edwards believes that the four captains weren’t living up to expectations in terms of their roles as leaders, but lately they’ve helped everyone become more of a team. We’re looking more towards everyone as a team,” said senior Alex Delevan; “Not necessarily a star like [former players] Tim Edwards or Alex Hatem to make the big plays. It’s more of if each one of us does the right thing we’ll win.” This year’s team only has nine seniors, while last year’s had 15. This makes the team a little less experienced. Coach Archer finds that injuries have made the difference for the team; “We were lucky the last two years to be injury-free.” He added that they did have a few injuries in prior years, but they always came towards the end of the season, when “it was easy for [the coaches] to just plug someone in,” whereas this year they came before the season had even started.
Some people have said that the absence of Syracuse-bound junior Jordan Evans, due to an injury he sustained during the basketball season, is why the Red Rams lost to Duxberry and Niskayuna. “That’s probably one of them, but I think if we played both of those teams now we would win,” said McBurney. “He’s just so unselfish, always wanting to get everyone involved,” said Coach Archer; “He’s the perfect team leader.” “He’s a special player,” said Mr. Hartley, “but I like to think about when Jordan was not on the team. The guys had a chance to step up and play that much better [in his absence],” he said. Edwards agrees that Evans’ presence would’ve made a difference, but he thinks if the team had played better overall they could have pulled out the victories anyway. “I think if we were at full health at the beginning of the season we would have won those three games,” said Delevan.