Boys lacrosse takes on tough schedule


Emilia Weinrobe

Junior midfielder Brian Edwards cradles the ball and looks for a pass during the boys lacrosse team’s season opener against East Cobb. The Knights lost 6-4, Edwards scored two of the Knight’s four goals.

William Palmer

Led by four captains and the biggest roster in the program’s history, the boys lacrosse team anticipates a strong season. Over fifty players tried out, and the team will be deep enough to field both a JV and varsity team.

Since the program’s creation in 2008, the Knights have struggled to field a deep enough roster to compete with powerhouse private schools in their region, which include Lovett, Westminster, Pace and Woodward.

Last season, the Knights finished 6-7 but only 1-4 in region play and missed the playoffs. The team lost several players to graduation, namely former captain and forward Kevin Edwards. Head coach Tom Estella praised Kevin for his leadership ability.

“We lost Kevin Edwards, and Kevin was our guy,” Estella said. “He was a star; he was a stud. We expected everything from him, and he delivered; so, it’s gonna take every player stepping up to be a kind of replacement for him.”

The loss of Edwards, combined with a tough schedule, will make this season a challenging one, according to Estella. He said he tries to schedule games against equally strong teams in order to give a good challenge for his players.

“We expect that most of our games this year are gonna be really competitive,” Estella said. “Besides the conference games that they forced us to make, we’ve got another 13 games, and they’re all teams that are right in our wheelhouse.”

The team has four captains: senior defenders Duncan Tanner and Avi Friedman and junior midfielders Finn Estella and Brian Edwards, Kevin’s younger brother. Tanner said he is optimistic about the team’s new talent.

“We got a new goalie named Padraig Mahoney; he’s a freshman, and he’s really good,” Tanner said. “He’s probably going to play a lot on varsity. Kevin’s brother Brian is going to pick up a lot of slack on offense, but I think no matter what you do, it’s gonna be hard to fill the gap Kevin left.”

Brian Edwards said other additions, like new coach Tristan Otto and a strong group of underclassmen, raises his expectations and hopes for the season.

“We have a big freshmen class that are all excited and ready to play, and we have gotten other new people from other grades to play lacrosse; so, now we have numbers like never before,” Brian Edwards said. “No coaches have left, but we did get one new one that played at [the University of Georgia], and he has a good lacrosse IQ and can really help our team get better.”

The biggest challenge for the Knights has always been their region alignment. Only four teams make the playoffs from each region, and for Midtown, it’s been near impossible to make that playoff threshold when strong private schools like Lovett, Westminster, Pace and Woodward, are in their region, usually filling those top four spots. The team has never made the playoffs in its 13 seasons. Estella hopes this year could be different.

“Midtown has never actually gotten out of our region because we have to deal with the [private] schools,” Estella said. “This year, we’re focusing on two of those games. I’m not saying which ones, but there’s two that we think that we’ve actually got the talent to keep up with. I don’t think they understand how good we are; so, we’re going to surprise them.”

In addition to success during the season, the boys are focusing on the growth of the program. A lacrosse program has been instituted at Howard Middle School, the feeder for Midtown, which Estella hopes will lead to skill improvement in the abilities of incoming classes.

“Coach Matt Janke was with this program since it started in 2008,” Estella said. “This year, although he’s still gonna come out to help us, he’s decided to take over the Howard program, our middle school feeder program, and that’s really good. That’s gonna revolutionize our team. We’re gonna have 41 kids signed up in the middle school that are gonna know how to catch and throw and understand the basics of this game before they get here. So the future is really, really bright.”