2016 was a big year for the Jamesville-DeWitt High School Boys Lacrosse team. After a dominating regular season, the nationally ranked team was an unstoppable force throughout playoffs and beat every team to make it to the state championship where they faced Yorktown, the same team that had defeated J-D in the state championship in 2014. The Red Rams were hungry for revenge, and won, 9-6. In the wake of a state championship winning season and with rings fresh on the boys’ fingers, they are looking for another big season.
Despite being reigning state champions, the team still has the exact same three goals as they do every season: to win the league championship, to win the sectional championship and to win the state championship. Junior Griffin Cook explains that their goals aren’t any different because the state championship was won by last year’s team. “We can’t obsess with what happened last year, we have to focus on getting it done this season,” says Cook.
The key to successfully going back-to-back lies within both the games on the lacrosse field and the games within the team’s heads. “We have a good chance to repeat a state championship if we all buy in and trust each other,” says Cook. The skill within the team is unprecedented, with an astounding 22 seniors on the roster ー the largest number in the sport’s history at J-DHS. “There’s a lot of returning seniors who are really leading the team well and showing us what it takes to accomplish the things that we want to,” says junior attackman Brendan Drotar who is a newcomer to the team. “We have a lot of unreal talent on both sides of the ball,” says senior defender Ryan Collins. “Even on the sideline there’s a lot of skill. I’m confident in our chances of winning a state championship...it’s our expectation to go back-to-back. We just need to focus on one game at a time.”
On the schedule are two big games that the Red Rams are looking forward to: Victor, who knocked off J-D in the playoffs two years ago, and Yorktown, a rematch of the state championship. Teams like Fayetteville-Manlius and West Genesee are also expected to be good games, as they usually are every year. In order to properly prepare for not only these big games, but any other team, the Red Rams are spending a lot of time watching film, says to Cook.
The rings on their fingers have also put a target on their backs. “I wasn’t on the team last year, but I’m expecting the competition to step up when they play us since we are reigning state champs,” says Ryan Drotar. “We just have to hard go in every practice. We have to go hard in every game. We have to treat every game like it’s a state championship,” says Drotar. The accolades of last season have also gained the team more media recognition than ever before. News articles are posted weekly about J-D and the players on it. “It’s more pressure, but we can handle it,” says Collins.
The team has a strong bond on and off the field, a key to success which cannot really be practiced. After practices and games, the team usually goes out to food together. “We’re all friends off the field and it translates to the way we play on the field,” says senior attack Kyle Cappeletti. Brendan and Ryan Drotar have even further chemistry, they are identical twins. “There’s definitely some sibling competition, there always has been. But, it pushes both of us to be better players which overall helps the whole team,” says Brendan Drotar.
The team is on the daily grind to get back to the same place they were last year; a state championship. In fact, they are not happy with the number 2 state ranking they were just given. “We don’t settle for anything but being number one. We are focused on staying hungry and staying scrappy,” says Cook.