Ever since the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) announced back in the fall that they would be holding a vote on whether to sanction lacrosse or not, I have been getting questions from people in and outside of Kentucky about why the KHSAA decided to take a serious look now, what would KHSAA look like, and many other pieces surrounding this whole thing. Continue reading “Mailbag: Questions Surrounding The KHSAA Possibly Sanctioning Lacrosse”→
With the 2019 World Indoor Lacrosse Championships getting underway this week in Langley, BC, let’s take a look at the multiple Kentucky connections in this year’s tournament.
Lexington natives and Lexington Catholic graduates Stevan and Spencer Kriss will be suiting up for Team Serbia up in Langley this year. Both current players at DIII powerhouse Washington & Lee, Stevan is entering his senior year while Spencer is entering his sophomore year.
Last spring with Washington & Lee, Stevan played in all 18 games, scooped up 28 ground balls and caused nine turnovers. Spencer only saw action in nine games, scoring two goals and scooping up
Stevan, a defenseman, played for Serbia during the 2015 tournament on the Onondaga Nation when he was just a senior at Lexington Catholic. He helped them to a twelfth place finish and 3-5 overall record, beating German in pool play and Switzerland and Turkey in bracket play.
In 2017 they both competed for Serbia in the European Box Lacrosse Championships in Turku, Finland. They helped Serbia to an eighth-place finish and Spencer was the leading scorer for Serbia with 18 points (10G/8A).
Bellarmine grads Dillon Ward and Taylor Stuart will also be playing in Langley this week at the 2019 WILC.
Considered by many to be the best overall goalie in the world, Ward will be suiting up for Canada this week. Ward won the NLL Goaltender of The Year Award in 2017 and has been named an NLL All-Pro selection three times. He was drafted third overall in the 2013 NLL draft by the Colorado Mammoth. Ward is also the starting goalie for the Denver Outlaws in the MLL.
While this is his first time representing Canada at the WILC, Ward was Canada’s starting goalie during the 2014 and 2018 World Field Championships. He led Canada to a Gold medal in 2014 and Silver medal in 2018. Ward was named the MVP of the 2014 world games in Denver and was named to the All-World Team in 2014 and 2018.
Stuart, a transition player, was drafted in the fourth round of the 2016 NLL Draft by the Colorado Mammoth. Doing most of his work on the defensive end, Stuart chased down 99 loose balls and caused 20 turnovers last season with the Mammoth. Stuart also tallied 15 points (5G/10A) last season and has been one of the most improved players in the NLL since his rookie year in 2017. He also plays in the MLL for the Denver Outlaws.
Ward and Stuart helped lead the Colorado Mammoth to the Western Division finals appearance last season after upsetting the Saskatchewan Rush in the Western Division semifinals.
On the coaching side, former Bellarmine player Kyle Sorensen will be behind the bench as the head coach of Team Austria. Sorensen is the defensive coordinator for the Burnaby Lakers in the WLA and has recently been hired as a scout for the NLL’s Rochester Knighthawks. He has also coached as an assistant with the Coquitlam Jr. A Adanacs and the NLL’s Vancouver Stealth.
Sorensen was drafted by the Stealth second overall in the 2006 NLL draft. He helped lead the Stealth to two championship appearances and won an NLL championship with the Stealth in 2010. He also won four Mann Cup’s with the Peterborough Lakers and won a Minto Cup with Peterborough Jr. A Lakers.
The Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) is asking for athletic directors and principals across the state to vote on the option of sanctioning boy’s and girl’s lacrosse. In their 2017-18 triennial survey last year 30 schools voted yes to sanctioning boy’s lacrosse and 32 schools voted yes to sanctioning girl’s lacrosse, but the result wasn’t enough for the KHSAA to sanction the sport.
While the KHSAA’s next triennial survey isn’t until 2020-2021, the Commissioner and Board of Control has received enough interest to conduct a survey in the interim. Schools have until September 17th to submit their answers to the KHSAA. The vote has to come out in favor of sanctioning the sport, so like usual the fate is in the hands of the athletic directors and principals of schools under the KHSAA.
This decision by the KHSAA comes nearly a year after the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association started their process which ended with lacrosse being voted in as a sanctioned sport. High School lacrosse in Tennessee will begin their first year as a sanctioned sport in 2021.
If the KHSAA’s survey comes back positive, Kentucky would become the 24th state in the country to sanction the sport and join Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina as the southern states that sanction the sport.
At the moment, Kentucky has 35 boy’s high school lacrosse teams and 30 girl’s high school teams. The 2020 season will see DeSales field a boy’s team for the first time and possibly St. Henry field their first boy’s and girl’s teams.
Former Lafayette head coach Charles Bigelow will be taking over as the head coach at Bryan Station for the 2020 season. This coaching change comes after first-year head coach William Marletta stepped down following the 2019 season.
Bigelow comes to Bryan Station after one season as the head coach at Lafayette. Prior to taking reigns as the head coach Bigelow was an assistant for five seasons. Last season Bigelow led a very young group to a 1-19 record, losing in the play-in round of the CLL tournament to Dixie Heights.
At Bryan Station Bigelow walks into a situation where success can be attained and the program seems to be moving upwards. The Defenders went 10-10 last season, losing to eventual champion Henry Clay in the first round.
Hopefully Bigelow can keep the current trajectory going at Bryan Station, especially being the second head coach in two seasons.
Central Hardin announced on Monday afternoon that John Gray would be taking over as the Bruins head coach for the 2020 season. This move comes after Dale Powers stepped down from his post as head coaching following a two-year stint.
Gray has been an assistant for the program and is an alum of Central Hardin. Those two factors are key for a program like Central Hardin who is going through their second coaching change in four years.
Last season the Bruins went 7-8 overall and lost to Lexington Catholic in the first round of the CLL tournament. The 2019 season was a pretty big jump from 2018 when they went 3-10.
The last winning season the Bruins enjoyed was in 2017 when they went 11-6. In addition to not having a ton of success over the past few seasons they also loose a strong senior class headlined by Gaige Powers who tallied 46 points (16G,30A) last season and was the catalyst for the Bruins offense.
However, they do return a good crop of young talent next season which should give them a boost. Gray certainly has his hands full, but success can be attained at Central Hardin and has bene in the past.
Scott Howe led St. Xavier (Ky.) to their 12th championship, second straight, this past season. Howe has been the only coach that the Tigers have ever known and is regarded by many as a “founding father” of Kentucky lacrosse. While Howe is regarded as a legend in the state his leash has never been shorter than it is now, even with all the success that he has had over the years.
According to multiple sources, the St. Xavier lacrosse program could have a changing of the guard sooner than later, and it’s not just retirement rumors anymore. Over the past few weeks there have multiple meetings between St. Xavier athletic director Alan Donhoff and parents of lacrosse players about the Tigers and the direction of the program.
Current and former players, parents, and Alumni of St. Xavier are not happy with the way in which the lacrosse program is being run under Howe, and haven’t been for multiple years now.
Over the past few seasons these complaints have seemed to ramp up and action has started to take place between parents, players, and Alumni of the program. This goes deeper than running up the score and beating teams by twenty of more points, which they did multiple times this past season.
Many are unhappy with the way that Howe leads, carries himself, acts towards, and treats players. Just this past season half of the senior class quit before the season because they “Didn’t want to spend their last semester of high school playing for that man [Howe].”, said a St. Xavier lacrosse parent.
While many have been unhappy about Howe’s coaching style and apparent disregard for sportsmanship there have been other culture issues as well. Multiple sources have said that Howe breeds a “bro culture” that is unacceptable at a private catholic school.
According to a source, St. Xavier athletic director Alan Donhoff was made aware at a meeting over the weekend that there are multiple players who have already said they will not play this next season, their senior year, because of Howe.
There were also a few names mentioned to Donhoff over the weekend in regards to replacements. Those names include L4 Lacrosse founder and director Reid Wesley, Christian Academy (Ky.) head coach Ryan Smith, L4 Lacrosse box director Dylan Gatt, and Collegiate (Ky.) head coach Bobby Schmitt. Both Wesley and Schmitt are graduates of St. Xavier and all four played in college at Bellarmine.
According to multiple sources, Howe is trying to put a plan in place where he would be the head coach for the next two seasons, riding out with the 2021 class. Howe is looking to bring in KCD head coach Andrew Wolford on as an assistant for the next two seasons and then hand over the reigns to Wolford after the 2021 season.
Sources have said that Reid Wesley and Bobby Schmitt have both told St. Xavier that they would not take over as the head coach if offered the position. Schmitt reportedly has said he would be willing to come on as an assistant, but will not take over as the head coach due to work commitments outside of lacrosse. In addition, Ryan Smith has not shown any interest either.
First-year program DeSales could benefit greatly from this turmoil at St. Xavier, reeling in players that might not have gone to DeSales in the past. Trinity and other established programs could also benefit as well.
For the time being, Scott Howe remains the head coach at St. Xavier but change could be coming to the Tigers program sooner than later. Only time will tell how soon that change could be coming and what ultimately happens.
Lafayette (Ky.) has hired former Asbury men’s head coach Ben Murphy as the next head coach of the Generals. Murphy comes to Lafayette after serving as the head coach at Asbury from 2018 until the NAIA program shut down midseason in 2019.
Murphy is a Kentucky native and played club lacrosse at the University of Kentucky. He got his start in coaching at Ohio Valley, serving as a graduate assistant for Fighting Scots. Murphy was then the head coach at NCAA DIII Westminster (Mo.) from 2016-2017, the Blue Jays first head coach in program history.
Murphy served as an assistant coach for Asbury for one season before being named the head coach prior to the 2018 season. He stayed in that position until the program shut down in the middle of the 2019 season. During his time as an assistant at Asbury Murphy served under now Henry Clay (Ky.) head coach Josh Stewart.
Now leading the ship at Lafayette, he has a big challenge in front of him. The Generals haven’t won more than one game since the 2017 season when they went 7-8. In 2019 Lafayette went 1-19, losing in the play-in round to Dixie Heights.
With the Lafayette hiring Murphy and DeSales having named their inaugural head coach, Atherton, Lexington Catholic, Dunbar, South Oldham, and Madison County LC are the only five current programs that are still searching for a new head coach.
Just like the rest of the country, many fans, players, and coaches got to know some of these top 2021’s in Kentucky for the first time during the 2019 high school season. This 2021 class in Kentucky may be the best class the state has ever seen with the depth of skill and talent that has already been shown.
Here are some of the top 2021’s that broke on to the scene during the 2019 high school season.
Gavin Noland, Attack, Trinity
The 5-foot-11 attackman was a big piece of the Shamrocks offense this past spring, helping to lead them to a 15-6 record with wins over programs such as Moeller (Ohio), Cincinnati St. Xavier (Ohio), and others.
Noland draws immediate comparisons to Redwoods attackman Clarke Petterson with his ability to be an off-ball finisher and Chrome midfielder Romar Dennis with his dodging ability and speed. While Noland is more of an off-ball finisher, cutting and finishing inside, he can also take his man one-on-one from the wing and behind the cage.
In addition to his finishing ability, Noland has a very good stick, throwing crisp passes. He can also shoot very well and can put the ball in the back of the net from almost anywhere on the field. Noland is easily in the conversation for being the best player in the state and has all the tools to succeed at the next level.
Hillis Burns, Attack, St. Xavier
As more of your traditional ‘X’ attackman, Burns can get it done in multiple ways and almost always seems to be in the right spot. He helped lead the Tigers to a KSLL championship this past season while being a focal point of their offense.
Standing 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, Burns can catch fire very easily with his scoring ability. However, he may be a better feeder as he is able to find the open guy when dodging from behind the cage or on the wings. He also has some Rob Pannell-esque plays in his bag that can throw any defender off.
Burns also has a high lacrosse IQ, giving him the ability to make smart plays all over the field. Burns also uses his speed and quickness to his advantage, getting open and beating his man. He is another player that is in the conversation for being the best player in the state, having an unbelievable skill set.
Ben Hubbs, Attack, St. Xavier
The attackman was another crucial part of St. Xavier’s KSLL championship run, being one of their primary goal scorers. Hubbs is a shooter and when he gets hot it elevates the play of everyone around him.
Hubbs honestly could play attack or midfield with his shooting ability. He is amore of a catch and shoot guy, but is very effective and can seemingly put the ball in the back of the net from anywhere. He is a great finisher inside, being able to find holes in the defense and camp out on the crease.
As an outside shooter Hubbs can crank it all day long, drawing comparisons to Duke midfielder Nakeie Montgomery. While Hubbs is more of a shooter he can be a great feeder as well, finding guys open in space and making smart passes as well. In addition, he may not be the best the strongest dodger, but can use his quickness and finesse to shake defenders and get his hands free.
Colten Reynolds, Attack, Henry Clay
Reynolds is a pure scorer, tallying 97 points (61G,36A) to help the Blue Devils win the CLL championship this past season. The attackman is a key piece of the the Henry Clay offense, really being a catalyst for them.
Because of his versatility Reynolds draws comparisons to Archers midfielder Austin Sims. Reynolds can get it done from multiple spots on the field as a shooter, dodger, and feeder. Reynolds is very good at beating his man and getting to the cage from the wings or behind the cage.
He is also able to use his speed to shake it man from up top as well. As a shooter he can rip it from outside and also finish inside. While his dodging and shooting ability are more marquee parts of his game, Reynolds is also a great feeder, being able to find the open man and throw crisp passes.
Triston Schaffer, Attack, Lexington Catholic
Schaffer has been one of the standouts on the offensive side of the ball for the Knights. He helped lead Lexington Catholic to a CLL championship game appearance, tallying 82 points (49G,33A).
With the skill set to play both attack and midfielder Schaffer can get it done multiple places on the field. One of his best attributes his IQ and ability to be a great off-ball finisher, always being in the right place and cutting off ball with efficiency.
As a shooter he can rip it from outside as well. Schaffer has a sharp stick which allows him to be able to become a feeder when needed as well. While his one on one dodging may not be the best, he can certainly be a threat as a dodger when he wants to from behind the cage and on the wings.
Daniel Diaz, Goalie, South Warren
The 6-foot-4 goalie stands tall in cage, making 131 saves off of 218 shots on goals while helping to lead the Spartans to the CLL semifinals.
Stone Wilmes, Defense, Trinity
As one of the youngest defenseman in the state this past season, Wilmes really stepped up late in the season for the Shamrocks. He can be a good cover man and can also slide and recover very well. He also has the ability to possibly play as an LSM.
Presley Richmond, Attack, Henry Clay
Tallying 67 points (57G,10A) to help lead the Blue Devils to a CLL championship, Richmond is an electrifying player. He can be a feeder or a shooter with his impressive skill set, and could also play as a midfielder as well.
Nic Baker, Midfield, Tates Creek
Baker is a very versatile player who has the skill set and athleticism to play multiple positions on the field. In 2019 Baker tallied 102 points (71G,31A). He is more of a shooter but can be a threat as a dodger and feeder as well.