By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Three teams playing in Saturday’s MHSAA Boys Lacrosse Finals at Troy Athens are familiar with the setting – they played on the same field for the same prize only a year ago.
Birmingham Brother Rice has won all 10 Division 1 titles in MHSAA history, and Detroit Catholic Central was runner-up in 2014. Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood is seeking its second Division 2 title in three seasons after finishing runner-up last spring – and faces an opponent, Okemos, that will enjoy competing on the season’s final day for the first time.
The Division 1 Final begins at 2 p.m., followed by the Division 2 Final at 4:30. Click for more information including all results from this season's tournament. Both finals also will be streamed live on MHSAA.TV, viewable with subscription, and broadcast on MHSAANetwork.com.
Here's a brief look at the four teams vying for titles (player statistics do not include Semifinals):
BIRMINGHAM BROTHER RICE
Record/rank: 18-4, No. 1 at end of regular-season
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic High School League A
Coach: Ajay Chawla, second season (37-8)
Championship history: 10 MHSAA championships (most recent 2014).
Best wins: 14-7 over No. 9 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern in the Semifinal, 14-3 (Regional Final) and 17-3 over No. 6 Birmingham United, 7-4 and 15-8 over No. 7 Detroit U-D Jesuit, 11-4 and 14-10 over No. 2 Detroit Country Day, 14-6 over No. 3 Detroit Catholic Central.
Players to watch: Ross Reason, jr. G (6.90 goals-against average); Brendon Kennedy, sr. A (29 goals, 12 assists); Morgan Macko, jr. A/M (56 goals, 46 assists); John Lockwood, sr. A (54 goals, 47 assists); Riley North, jr. A (31 goals, 11 assists).
Outlook: The Warriors have continued to dominate Michigan boys lacrosse, going undefeated in-state with the only losses. They fell to one of Indiana’s top teams (Culver Military Academy) three times and a Canadian power (Toronto Hill Academy) while also beating one of Ohio’s best in Upper Arlington and Indiana’s top-ranked team, Carmel. All seven all-staters from last season are gone, but more of the best from 2014 have continued to carry the program – Lockwood and Macko were among the team’s top scorers last season and combined for nine of the team’s 23 goals in last spring’s championship game win over DCC.
DETROIT CATHOLIC CENTRAL
Record/rank: 14-5, No. 3 at end of regular season
League finish: Second in Detroit Catholic High School League A
Coach: Dave Wilson, 10th season (131-62)
Championship history: Division 1 runner-up 2014, 2010, 2007 and 2006.
Best wins: 14-13 over No. 2 Detroit Country Day in the Semifinal, 14-13 over No. 4 Brighton, 13-6 (Regional Final), and 7-4 over No. 7 Detroit U-D Jesuit, 20-9 over No. 9 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern, 19-12 over No. 5 Troy, 11-8 over No. 10 Ann Arbor Skyline.
Players to watch: Zach Crawford, sr. A; Andrew Caris, jr. LSM; Alex Jarzembowski, jr. M; Rocco Mularoni, jr. A (Statistics not submitted.)
Outlook: DCC is back in the Final for the second straight season after edging Country Day, last season’s Division 2 champion, in the Semifinal. This team has a bit of a different look – there are only eight seniors, and only four start. In addition to wins listed above, the Shamrocks also were 3-1 against Division 2 teams that finished the regular season ranked among the top four, losing only to top-ranked Forest Hills Central (9-7 in DCC’s first game this season). They’re on a roll with eight straight wins – including six over ranked opponents – since falling to Brother Rice 14-6 in their only meeting this season.
BLOOMFIELD HILLS CRANBROOK KINGSWOOD
Record/rank: 13-9, No. 4 at end of regular season
League finish: Fourth in Detroit Catholic High School League A
Coach: Mat Wilson, fourth season (55-31)
Championship history: Division 2 champion 2013 and 2006, runner-up in 2014 and 2007.
Best wins: 8-7 (OT) over No. 1 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central in the Semifinal, 11-5 over No. 6 Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, 13-12 over Division 1 No. 2 Detroit Country Day.
Players to watch: Johnny Wagner, sr. M; Bennett Faliski, sr. M; Peter Augier, sr. M; Michael Langdon, sr. D; Jack Blumberg, sr. D. (Statistics not submitted.).
Outlook: Cranbrook Kingswood is back in the Final for the third straight season and despite graduating a pair of standout offensive players after finishing runner-up last spring. Wagner is finishing a career that already has him entered in the MHSAA records listings three times, and he with the other four players mentioned above all earned all-state honors in 2014. The Cranes started 2-7 but faced both Division 1 finalists and top teams from Ohio; they are 11-2 since and have given up only 16 goals total over four tournament games.
Record/rank: 17-2, No. 2 at end of regular season
League finish: First in Capital Area Activities Conference
Coach: Shawn Grady, 13th season (156-77)
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 14-10 (Semifinal) and 12-9 over No. 3 East Grand Rapids, 12-10 over Division 1 No. 4 Brighton.
Players to watch: Blake Grewal Turner, sr. A (60 goals, 21 assists); Cole Jamieson, sr. M (27 goals, 18 assists); Bennett Sherman, jr. A (56 goals, 31 assists); Cameron Stelljes, sr. G (5.20 goals-against average); Sam Horton, sr. D.
Outlook: The Chieftains have been building toward this first-time Finals appearance, improving their win total four straight seasons and with a group that went 15-2 in 2014 with five all-staters that are back this spring. Okemos’ only losses this season were to two of the best in Division 1 – by two goals to No. 9 Forest Hills Northern in the opener and then by only one goal to No. 3 Detroit Catholic Central in the regular-season finale. Those were two of only four opponents who scored more than seven goals on the Chieftains this season.
PHOTO: Okemos' Blake Grewal Turner works to get past a DeWitt defender during a victory this season. (Photo courtesy of Alan Holben Photography.)
The addition of limited seeding at the Regional level of the Girls Lacrosse Tournament headlined actions taken by the Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association during its Fall Meeting on Dec. 2 in East Lansing.
Generally, the Council takes only a few actions during its Fall Meeting, with topics often introduced for additional consideration and action during its meetings in winter and spring. This Fall Meeting saw the Council take only three actions, with additional discussion centered on topics expected to receive more specific consideration at MHSAA sport committee meetings this winter and the Council’s meetings in March and May.
The Council approved a Girls Lacrosse Committee proposal to seed the top two teams in every Regional, and place those top seeds on opposite sides of the bracket beginning with the 2023 season. The two teams to be seeded will be determined by using the MHSAA’s Michigan Power Ratings (MPR) formula, which takes into account success and strength of schedule and is used currently to provide seeding information in boys lacrosse, girls and boys basketball, girls and boys soccer, and ice hockey. Only the top two teams in girls lacrosse will be seeded and separated; the other teams in each Regional will be placed on their brackets by random draw.
The Council also approved a Boys Lacrosse Committee recommendation that will allow athletes to participate in up to five quarters per day between teams at multiple levels – for example, varsity and junior varsity – also beginning with the 2023 season. For boys lacrosse multi-team tournaments, if two school teams (for example, the varsity and junior varsity) are at the same event, athletes may play in no more halves or quarters than what is being played by the school’s highest-level team that day. (Example: if the varsity team is playing three 30-minute half games for a total of six halves, a player playing both varsity and JV on the same day can play in six total halves that day.) The “fifth quarter” rule, by allowing athletes to compete on two levels on the same day, is intended to help programs that are otherwise lacking enough participants to field teams at multiple levels.
Taking into account the wintery weather conditions experienced by athletes during the MHSAA alpine ski season, the Council approved a Sports Medicine Advisory Committee recommendation to adopt the “MHSAA Competition and Practice Guidelines for Cold Weather,” which are specific to alpine skiing. The guidelines include a windchill chart and cold standards for ambient temperature. This proposal also was supported by the Ski Committee and will go into effect for the 2022-23 season.
Remaining discussions focused on results from this fall’s Update Meeting survey completed by administrators during the MHSAA’s annual presentations across the state. The Council considered survey data including on questions related to the out-of-season travel rule. The Council also discussed results of a fall survey completed by member school athletic directors and head varsity football coaches concerning ongoing conversations about scheduling and playoff format. Following the Football Committee meeting in January 2023, an ad hoc committee comprised of members of the MHSAA staff, Representative Council, Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA) and Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) will be convened for further discussion on these topics, with their report to be provided to the Council during its March 2023 meeting.
The Fall Meeting saw the appointment of Westland John Glenn athletic director Jason Malloy for a first-two-year term to the 19-person Council, and the re-appointment of Bay City Western principal Judy Cox for a second two-year term. Malloy previously was appointed to finish a partial term as one of the two representatives of member junior high/middle schools.
The Council reelected Scott Grimes, superintendent for Grand Haven Area Public Schools, as its president; and Vic Michaels, director of physical education and athletics for the Archdiocese of Detroit, as secretary-treasurer. Brighton High School athletic director John Thompson was elected Council vice president.
The Representative Council is the legislative body of the MHSAA. All but five members are elected by member schools. Four members are appointed by the Council to facilitate representation of females and minorities, and the 19th position is occupied by the Superintendent of Public Instruction or designee.
The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.3 million spectators each year.