Garnet Valley (PA) Adapts to Life in Central League

By Jimmy Oliver

It's a period of change for the Garnet Valley Jaguars, and the program will have to get used to the adjustment quickly.

Gone are the days of playing in the Del Val League, where the Jaguars went 46-10 over the last six seasons. In 2009, Garnet Valley is moving into one of the nation's toughest public school leagues, the vaunted Central League, where the ten league teams combined for 126 wins last season.

In this league, if a team wins the title, they have more than earned it. It's an official stamp that they're among the nation's elite.

Head coach Frank Urso takes over the reigns with some big goals in mind -- that elusive state championship. But with Urso at the helm, it appears the Jags are in good hands. As a player at the University of Maryland, Urso played in four national championship games, earning MVP honors in 1975.

But moving into the Central League is akin to going from feeding kittens to lions. The likes of Ridley, Conestoga, Lower Merion and Springfield are just a handful of Central League teams that have dominated the landscape of Pennsylvania lacrosse for the last 40 years.

And according to Urso, in order for his squad to continue to be successful, they will have to undergo some changes in how they prepare for games going forward.

"There needs to be a different approach now," Urso said. "That includes everything from how we scout to game planning and to how we deal with the mental aspects of the game. It's intriguing and exciting for them."

Meanwhile, if the talent returning to the Jaguars this season is any indication, the program may be poised for a successful campaign. With the squad's entire attack back from last year, Garnet Valley may already be the team to beat.

Eric Warden (Under Armour Jr. - Team Philly) leads the way for the Jags and is coming off a 113-point season in '08. Warden is supported by Paul Dunn (78 points) and Mike Montella (67 points) at the attack position. Additionally, the Jags will welcome Ricky Lehman at midfield (transfer from Delaware power Salesianum) and Charles Bytheway on defense.

These players are all local products that came up through the Brandywine Youth Club, which has been instrumental in developing players and turning the Jaguars into one of the region's more successful high school programs.

The transition for Garnet Valley will be no easy task, but Urso's squad is up for the challenge. The Jags start the season with three nonconference games before playing in three straight Central League contests against Lower Merion, Conestoga and Upper Darby.

The talent is there, but the biggest key will be how quickly Garnet Valley can adapt to life in one of the region's elite leagues.

Stay tuned this week for the latest episode of Inside the Crease, LaxPower's newest high school boys' lacrosse podcast show. Check it out on the Media Page or simply head to iTunes and listen today.


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