For boys’ lacrosse, big changes highlight the 2013 season.
For the first time, the Colorado High School Activities Association has split the state’s lacrosse teams into 5A and 4A classifications, setting up interesting matchups and new league opponents for area squads. The full impact of the changes is still an unknown, but several coaches feel it is progress for the sport.
“Before, it was one big (group), and we had to play 5A teams,” first-year St. Mary’s coach Ike Anderson said. “By splitting it, we still play a lot of tough teams, but it gives us a chance to compete a little bit more and hopefully make the playoffs. A lot of schools would never start programs if they had no chance of ever making the playoffs, so it ends up growing the game.”
Cheyenne Mountain coach Mike Paige agrees.
“What I think it does is create some equity between the larger schools and the not-so-large schools,” said Paige, who is in his third year as head man for the Indians. “Our sport is growing so quickly, and the Arapahoes and other schools are just dominating, so I think it’s more fair in allowing more kids to get involved and teams to be more successful. I’m excited about it, and it’s an exciting time for Colorado lacrosse.”
Colorado Springs-area schools will see last year’s league leaders – Cheyenne Mountain and Air Academy – square off against the Colorado Springs School, St. Mary’s, Fountain Valley, Pueblo West and Ponderosa in the 4A Pikes Peak League. In 5A, Palmer, Palmer Ridge and Lewis-Palmer will be part of the highly competitive Douglas County League, with first-year program Pine Creek playing against league teams in a junior varsity capacity before moving to varsity in 2014.
With Palmer Ridge coming off a 10-5 season, Palmer finishing 7-8 and Lewis-Palmer in the mix, there are plenty of questions about how the city’s schools will respond to the move to 5A.
“I think it’s good for Colorado lacrosse, because it’s going to let some smaller schools duke it out for a championship,” said Palmer coach Sequoia Brown, who is in his second year coaching the Terrors. “It’s certainly going to be a challenge for us, but we’re excited about it.”
First-year coaches are also a common theme in boys’ lacrosse this season, with Anderson taking the helm at St. Mary’s a year after the Pirates (8-6) enjoyed the first winning season in program history. Ron Garcia takes the helm at Air Academy, which finished second to the Indians (13-3, 6-0) in league play last year at 10-7, 5-1. Garcia also gets some help from Chris Snyder, the former U.S. Lacrosse Director of Coaching and Education, as his defensive coordinator.