Deep in the heart of Texas, a bumper crop of lacrosse standouts
Tuesday, January 18, 2011; 11:22 PM
Coppell High School, located in a suburb of Dallas, spent the fall enjoying the most successful football season in school history. The Cowboys finished the regular season undefeated for the first time and advanced to their first region title game, all while competing in Class 5A, the largest classification in football-mad Texas.
Following their last-second loss in the region final on Dec. 3, however, several of the players quickly turned their attention to a different field of play.
Coppell linebacker Brandon Mullins was named the Associated Press defensive player of the year for 5A. He finished with 133 tackles and had scholarship offers from Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Christian.
He instead will play lacrosse as a longstick midfielder at Syracuse.
Wide receiver Tyler Landis led the Cowboys in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. Like Mullins, he was on the Dallas Morning News all-area first team.
He will play lacrosse as a midfielder at Brown.
Starting tight end Nate Hruby will play lacrosse as a midfielder at Air Force.
Starting cornerback Sam Johnston, a defenseman in lacrosse, will play for High Point, a school in North Carolina that will field a Division I program for the first time in 2013.
Two other Coppell seniors who didn't play football also attracted attention from college lacrosse coaches: High-scoring attackman Trent Dennington committed to Air Force and faceoff specialist Alec Lucas will play for Stony Brook.
It's not a bad haul by any standard. It's an exceptional haul for a school from Texas. There, football is king and lacrosse isn't sanctioned as an official high school sport.
The scenario has led to a stint of surprising popularity in lacrosse circles for Coppell High lacrosse coach Jared Venia, 27, a former club player for Central Michigan and high school football referee in Texas.
In one two-hour span at a camp this past summer, Venia took questions about his players from coaches representing two final four participants and an NCAA quarterfinalist.