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After winning its fourth consecutive New York State Public High School Athletic Association sectional championship, Jamesville-DeWitt’s season came to an end. Its state title hopes looked promising, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, the state lacrosse tournament was canceled for the second straight year.
The Red Rams haven’t won a NYSPHSAA title in five years, disrupting a steady run as they’ve been to 10 title games since 1986, winning five.
After going 16-2 in 2021, Jamesville-DeWitt’s roster will look very different as it approaches the 2022 season. The Red Rams graduated 12 seniors, with a vast majority currently on collegiate rosters, aiming for their fifth-straight sectional title with an underclassman-heavy roster, one game into the season.
The team is coached by Jamie Archer, who had been at the helm since 2006, where he has led Jamesville-DeWitt to four state titles. Archer, a former All-American and National Champion at Syracuse University, said the team will be led mainly by its junior and sophomore classes. The Red Rams only have nine seniors, five of whom were not on the team in 2021.
With all the roster turnover, junior attack Gannon Kessler, a Boston University commit, said that the Red Rams’ athleticism is the strongest it’s ever been.
“We added a lot of athletes to our defense,” Kessler said. “We’ve used spring ball and practice as a way to make sure we’re not just individually good, but able to succeed as a team on the field.”
The Red Rams opened the season on Tuesday against Syracuse City High School. Sophomore Sam Brazell led the team with seven points, recording six goals and an assist in a 12-4 victory for Jamesville-DeWitt. For Brazell, continuing the JD legacy is something that will remain on his mind this season despite all the personnel changes.
“JD lacrosse is at the top of talks every year, and that’s credit to the coaches and players who came before us. It’s on us to add another sectional and state championship to our trophy case,” Brazell said.
As the season continues, important matchups are just around the corner. These include home games against West Genesee on April 16 and Victor on April 21, along with road games at Fayetteville-Manlius and East Syracuse Minoa the week of April 25.
“(Fayetteville-Manlius) and West Genny are two of our biggest rivals and we always seem to match up against them come playoff time,” senior midfielder Matt Keeler said. “Our biggest game this year though is Victor. They’ve dominated New York lacrosse for years and we seem to never be able to get past them.”
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Each year, the Red Rams regularly send players to compete at the next level, the most well known being Jordan Evans, who played for the Red Rams from 2010-13 when he was the top rated midfielder and the No. 1 overall prospect in the nation his senior year.
Junior goalie Ian McIntyre, a Florida Southern College commit, said that Jamesville-DeWitt’s season-long expectations have lowered because of the roster transformation. But everytime he enters the athletic foyer, he notices two specific banners in the rafters. Both display the program’s two undefeated seasons and back-to-back New York Class B state championships in 2010 and 2011.
“This year especially, with people counting us out, it would be extra special to be hoisting a trophy at the end of the year, and have our names sitting up next to the greats,” McIntyre said.
Senior defenseman Ben Schellinger said this season is all about “proving them wrong” since not much is expected from this year’s transformed Red Rams team. The Red Rams have another week until their next game, when they host Auburn High School. The Rams have outscored the Maroon 77-29 over their past five matchups.
“Expectations are always the same,” Archer said. “Use what we learn in practice and let it translate to the field.”
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