By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
No. 1 will take on No. 2 in both MHSAA Boys Lacrosse Finals on Saturday at Howell’s Parker Middle School.
It just so happens that both championship games will pit opponents who already have faced each other twice this season with league titles on the line.
Brother Rice downed Detroit Catholic Central 11-5 and 14-7 in Detroit Catholic League A play, and they’ll face off once more in the Division 1 Final at 4:30 p.m. Starting the day at 2 p.m. in Division 2 will be Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central and East Grand Rapids, with the Rangers looking to add a third win to their 15-9 and 14-13 victories in Ottawa-Kent Conference Tier I play this spring.
Below is a look at all four contenders, with player statistics through Regional Finals.
BIRMINGHAM BROTHER RICE
Record/rank: 19-2, No. 1 at end of regular-season
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic High School League A
Coach: Ajay Chawla, third season (57-10)
Championship history: 11 MHSAA championships (most recent 2015).
Best wins: 9-6 over No. 6 Clarkston in Regional Final, 16-3 over No. 9 Midland in Regional Semifinal, 11-5 and 14-7 over No. 2 Detroit Catholic Central, 8-3 over No. 3 Detroit Country Day, 13-9 over Division 2 No. 2 East Grand Rapids.
Players to watch: Morgan Macko, sr. A (70 goals, 55 assists); Riley North, sr. A (49 goals, 38 assists); Jack Kelly, jr. M (47 goals, 16 assists).
Outlook: Brother Rice has played through a couple closer games than perhaps usual this spring – but is again the heavy favorite as it seeks to continue its sweep of every Division 1 title since the tournament was started more than a decade ago. The only losses this spring were twice to Indiana powerhouse Culver Military Academy, and the Warriors took on and beat some of the best from Ohio and Illinois as well. Macko is finishing off one of the most productive runs in MHSAA lacrosse history and also starred the last two seasons.
DETROIT CATHOLIC CENTRAL
Record/rank: 17-4, No. 2 at end of regular season
League finish: Second in Detroit Catholic High School League A
Coach: Dave Wilson, 11th season (149-71)
Championship history: Division 1 runner-up five times (most recent 2015).
Best wins: 13-5 over No. 3 Detroit County Day in the Semifinal, 13-5 over No. 7 Brighton, 16-10 over Division 2 No. 2 East Grand Rapids, 17-10 over Division 2 No. 3 Okemos.
Players to watch: Rocco Mularoni, sr. A; Justin Baker, sr. A; Brennan Kamish, jr. M (Statistics not submitted.)
Outlook: DCC will play in its third straight Final trying to break the hold of rival Brother Rice on Division 1. Seven seniors start for a team with plenty of big-game experience; midfielder Alex Jarzembowski is another veteran standout among many. Similar to Brother Rice, DCC also played strong programs from other states and Ontario. The Shamrocks have shown the ability to lock down top teams; they held opponents to fewer than 10 goals in all but six games and have given up only 11 goals total over four postseason games.
EAST GRAND RAPIDS
Record/rank: 15-5, No. 2 at end of regular season
League finish: Second in O-K Conference Tier 1
Coach: Rick DeBlasio, fourth season (first of second tenure; 48-13 overall)
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 2009), three runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 16-15 (2OT) over No. 3 Okemos in the Semifinal, 9-3 and 9-3 (Regional Final) over No. 4 Ada Forest Hills Eastern, 8-6 over No. 5 Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, 6-4 and 9-7 over Division 1 No. 5 Rockford, 15-5 over Division 1 No. 3 Detroit Country Day, 16-5 over Division 1 No. 10 Ann Arbor Pioneer.
Players to watch: Hub Hejna, jr. A (67 goals, 30 assists); Matt Solberg, sr. A (43 goals, 49 assists); Ben Keller, jr. A (46 goals, 15 assists).
Outlook: East Grand Rapids will play in its first championship game since finishing runner-up in 2011, and has taken on plenty of strong teams to prepare. The losses came to Brother Rice, Detroit Catholic Central, twice to Forest Hills Central and to Okemos in the season opener – and the Pioneers avenged that loss Wednesday. Those four teams are the only ones to score more than seven goals on the Pioneers this season. DeBlasio formerly coached the team from 2002-04.
GRAND RAPIDS FOREST HILLS CENTRAL
Record/rank: 19-2, No. 1 at end of regular season
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference Tier 1
Coach: Jake Seiler, second season (36-5)
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recent 2012), two runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 15-9 and 14-13 over No. 2 East Grand Rapids, 17-8 over No. 3 Okemos, 20-8 over Division 1 No. 5 Rockford.
Players to watch: Bryce Clay, soph. D (95 goals, 53 assists); Tanner Hallock, jr. A (51 goals, 34 assists); Max Kuiper, sr. A (38 goals, 28 assists).
Outlook: Second-year coach Seiler has Forest Hills Central back in a Final for the first time since finishing runner-up in 2013 and after having lost this season only to Country Day in double overtime and Culver. Although Clay is the most productive scorer, there’s lots of balance with six Rangers tallying at least 20 goals heading into the week – and plenty of help in goal as senior Kadin Schermers and freshman Jack Nolan have combined to give up six goals per game this spring.
PHOTO: Brother Rice's Cole Hyde moves the ball upfield during last season's Division 1 Final against Detroit Catholic Central.
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.