By Jack Weatherby
The boys lacrosse team is looking to improve from a 10-5 season, following a 9-0 start and five losses in its last six games a year ago. The team went 6-2 at home, but struggled on the road, with a 4-3 record away.
The Knights’ goal is to make the playoffs for the first time since the school began playing the sport. To qualify for the playoffs, they will have to finish top four in the region. This year, Grady changed regions, and now must face top teams such as Woodward and Marist.
“Woodward is a tough team, they were a challenge for sure.” junior Ben Hall said.
Last season, Grady came a goal short of qualifying for the playoffs after a 7-6 loss to region opponent McIntosh. This season, the Knights are looking to improve their region standing with an intense practice regimen.
The team began captains’ practices last semester, and this semester it practices daily at the former Walden Middle School. In the preseason, the players were required to follow a workout regimen to stay in shape and improve conditioning for the season.
With the loss of six seniors, including starters in Will Taber, who now plays for Kennesaw State, Keegan Hasson, Clay Davis, Will Smalley and John Lansing, the team has lost a lot of depth. Last year’s high-scoring offense netted a school record 190 goals over 15 games, averaging 12.6 goals per game.
Senior leaders this year include midfielder Timmy Kopp, defensemen Alex Tonico and Henry Grant, who all have four years of experience on the team.
“We definitely lost some good players, but I think we can do well this year,” Grant said. “It’s all about our mindset really.”
Assistant coaches Jon Oschner and Matt Janke remain with the team after former head coach Terry Jones left Grady on Feb. 24 to assume duties as the head football coach at South Cobb. Joining Oschner and Janke as part of the coaching staff this year is new head coach Jacob Friesen. Friesen is an alumnus of Grady, and he played on the original team that was established in the past 10 years.
Sophomore Craig Love II, who also played football, is part of a new group of players hoping to make an impact immediately.
“I just thought that it would be a cool new sport to try,” Love said. “It seems similar to football in some ways, and I think I can get pretty good with some practice.”
The team opened the season with a 12-1 win over Druid Hills on Feb. 23, a 17-0 victory over Maynard Jackson on Feb. 28, a 21-3 loss to Woodward Academy on Mar.3, and a 17-9 loss to Mountain View on Mar. 7.
“We just have to take it one game at a time,” Oschner said. “We have a long way to go, but I have faith in these guys.”