Central students combine their minds, funds for lacrosse team

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Spring offers a virtual smorgasbord of sports.

Baseball, softball, boys tennis, track, girls swimming, golf and girls soccer make it the busiest time of the high school year. The spring array starts Monday when the games begin just two days after the official close of the basketball season in Columbia, Mo. And two days after the start of the lacrosse season.

That's right. Lacrosse.

As in Central High School lacrosse.

Sparked by the vision and determination of senior Andrew Moreton, a group of 23 Central students have banded together to form a club team. The group, which began practices March 3, is in its final week of preparation for its season opener Saturday at DeSmet High School, part of an 11-game schedule.

Lacrosse at Central is a sign of the times.

"They say it's one of the fastest growing sports in the nation, that it's where soccer was about 15 years ago," Moreton said.

The club team finds its roots in Moreton's grade-school years when he was introduced to it at a two-week camp he attended each summer in Chattanooga, Tenn., from second to fifth grade.

"I just loved it then and always wanted to start a team here," Moreton said.

The dream began to materialize last year when Moreton saw an article in the Southeast Missourian about a club team at Southeast Missouri State University.

With lacrosse on his mind, he quit the Central tennis team last spring as he launched efforts to form a team. He contacted Jim Peters and Andy Mudd, who organized the Southeast team, started a sign-up list and attended meetings in St. Louis -- the home base of the Missouri Scholastic Lacrosse Association -- in the summer.

"Over the summer we held a couple meetings to see who could commit money to pay for gear," Moreton said.

The gear, which consists of a helmet, shoulder pads, arm pads, gloves and stick, requires a commitment. Outfits cost $300 for each player and were ordered in the fall.

The team gets nothing but its name from Central, which sponsors events recognized only by the Missouri State High School Activities Association.

MSHSAA does not sanction lacrosse in Missouri, which has 27 high school club teams -- most in the St. Louis area. Moreton said he expects that to change in about three years, citing Illinois, which officially enlisted high school lacrosse to its spring repertoire.

Moreton said the sport has met a cool reception at Central.

"Some of the coaches haven't supported it because it's taken athletes from their sport," he said.

Lack of support or finances hasn't been a deterrent.

Moreton said the club has a $5,000 budget and has raised $3,500 through sponsors, who have bought advertising in a program that will be distributed at games. The money goes toward a $2,800 bill for jerseys, travel expenses, balls and other items. The team is renting a school bus at $40 an hour for its trip to DeSmet this weekend.

Members of the Southeast team serve as coaches and lead the two-hour practices held weekdays after school at Arena Park. Central plays its first home game April 4 against Rockwood Summit on Southeast's field at Sprigg and Bertling.

"All the guys playing it love it," Moreton said.

Stein resigns at Delta

Delta boys basketball coach Robert Stein has resigned.

The Bobcats posted a 6-17 record in Stein's second season. Delta compiled a 14-33 record during the tenure. The school has yet to name a replacement.

Dukes signs with Joliet

Central all-state linebacker Jeremiah Dukes has signed a letter of intent to play football at Joliet (Ill.) Junior College, the reigning junior college national champion.

Dukes will join his half-brother, Chris Smith, a former Tiger who was a freshman lineman for the national champs. Dukes, a 6-foot 210-pounder with great speed, established himself as a tenacious hitter for Central. A three-year letterman, he helped the Tigers to three straight Class 4 quarterfinals appearances. He's a three-time SEMO North all-conference selection and two-time all-region pick.

As a senior, he led Central in tackles with 75 solos and 17 assists. He also had 11 tackles for loss, forced three fumbles and blocked a kick.

Brown to play for Quincy

Chelsey Brown of St. Vincent has signed a letter of intent to play soccer next season at Quincy University in Quincy, Ill.

Brown, a sweeper, is a three-time Jefferson County Conference and all-district selection. She earned all-state honorable mention status as a junior after scoring four goals and collecting five assists.

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