Kenston head coach Jay Lammers had a clear message to his young lacrosse players before they left for spring break earlier this week.
Graduating a baker’s dozen, including one all-state and three all-region selections, the Bombers opened their new campaign with a 14-2 triumph at Cardinal Mooney last Tuesday and then lost a 16-4 contest to Toledo St. Francis on Saturday.
“We can go one of two ways,” Lammers said he told his players, including six sophomores and four freshmen on his 22-man varsity roster.
“We can bring the stick with us on the beach and fine-tune our fundamentals that, quite frankly, still need a decent amount of work,” he said. “Or we can put our stick away for the week, and it’s going to be apparent when they get back in town.
“Pretty much everybody leaves. We have hardly any players around town for the break, which is fine. But they need to put a little onus on themselves and come back hungry and sharp and ready to hit the ground running again, because there’s no lull in our schedule this year. We’re running with some big boys this year, so we need to be sharp when we get back.”
While the Bombers return senior goaltender Luke Ostoyic, a first-team all-region selection with two seasons of playoff experience, they lost their top three defenders from last season.
Until Kenston’s defensemen find their rhythm, Ostoyic will have to stand on his head some in the early season, Lammers said.
“When he is on, he’s the most talented goalie I’ve ever coached.” Lammers said.
“Despite the scoring against St. Francis, he made some nice saves for us,” the coach said. “He finished with over a 60 percent save percentage to keep us afloat for a while. We were just overwhelmed with shots, and St. Francis, you know, we gave them a ton of second, third, fourth opportunities with our sloppy stick work.”
Senior captain Bear Bowen is the Bombers’ most experienced defenseman, while senior newcomer Josh Hummer and sophomore Lucas Hadar join him in the back.
Hummer was a second-team all-conference linebacker for the Kenston football team this past season, as well as a wide receiver.
“He just picked up a lacrosse stick this winter, and he’s really an insane athlete,” Lammers said. “He’s off the charts with his athletic ability, and the strides he’s made in just a couple months of putting a long-pole in his hand, I mean, he’s a starting close defender for us, and I think a lot of teams would love to have a player like Josh.
“And Bear Bowen has responded very well to his role as captain. He works really hard. He does a lot in the offseason to get his body and his skill up, and we really need him to live up to his name and be a bear this year for us to be successful.”
Joining Ostoyic as a returning first-team all-region selection, senior midfielder Parker Deuley will motor the Bombers all over the field this season, Lammers said.
Deuley is Kenston’s first returning all-state player as a third-team selection, and he is committed to Nazareth College in Rochester, N.Y.
“He’s our rock. He’s our horse. We’ll be riding him until he can’t go anymore,” Lammers said. “Our sport is becoming overspecialized, and he’s just an old-school get the ball, pick up the ground ball, run it past everybody, create offense, play block-out defense and take faceoffs. He does everything. He runs like a deer. He has his legs and lungs for days.”
Other top midfielders this season are senior Brian Larkin Gero, junior Kyle Apshago and sophomores Norman Kubbins and Devin Farrar.
Up top, junior Ryan Boadway, the Bombers’ long-range shooter, and senior Ohio Northern commit Anthony Pavone return as starting attackmen, although Pavone is battling an injury from the wrestling season for the time being.
Senior captain Matt DeLuca, meanwhile, is converting from a middie back to attack this season, Lammers said.
“We needed attack help, and so we moved him there,” the coach said. “His body type, his big build and skills, I think, translate to that position and little bit better than midfield.”
Since Lammers took over the Kenston program in 2011, the Bombers have had a keep-it-simple philosophy with a team identity revolving around athleticism, he said.
“We want to play a pressing man-to-man defense and push the pace of the ball as much as we can on offense,” he said. “So we’ve kept it very simple in that regards over the years. We’ve got to get our slide packages down and make sure we’re communicating, because we’re still feeling each other out with how we play defensively. But I’ve got nothing but faith in my guys.”
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