In six seasons as head boys' lacrosse coach at Damascus High, Paul Jenkins built the Hornets into one of the top programs in Montgomery County. He had a record of 43-36, led Damascus to the 2001 Maryland 3A/2A West Region championship and last year guided it to the Maryland 4A/3A West Region final.
But Jenkins, who does not work at Damascus, had to step aside this season so Jeff Hanson, a teacher at the school, could take over the program.
"It was tough because I have a close connection with a lot of the guys, but I was ready to move on," said Jenkins, who works at Montgomery College-Germantown. "I had been there for six years, and I went to high school there, so I was looking for a change."
Jenkins, who applied for the Seneca Valley job, which was given to Terry Changuris, landed at Rockville. There, he took over a program that had little tradition and success. In three seasons, the Rams had compiled a record of 5-35, and one of the victories was a forfeit.
But under Jenkins, the Rams, who went 2-11 last year, have made immediate improvement. After losing their first two games of the season, the Rams had won three straight.
"For these guys, it's a great experience, because I don't think they've been on a three-game winning streak their entire careers," Jenkins said.
They hadn't. In fact, at 3-2, the Rams already have guaranteed the best season in school history.
Jenkins's senior-laden team has been led offensively by attack Steve Osmun (14 goals, four assists) and defensively by goalkeeper A.J. Heiney-Gonzales. This is Heiney-Gonzales's first season in goal on varsity. He played the position in youth leagues, but last year played defense.
"Last season's goalie graduated, and nobody was willing to step up," Jenkins said. "A.J. has been a great leader, and he has a great attitude. He's a big guy, he's got good field sense and good positioning abilities. He's helping keep our defense together."
Also contributing have been senior Jimmy Masser (seven goals, four assists), the Rams' top faceoff man, and two neophyte defensemen -- Daniel Heiney-Gonzales, A.J.'s freshman brother, and senior Greg Tebeck, who is in his first year playing the sport.
A Positive Performance
Springbrook girls' lacrosse team suffered its first loss of the season Saturday, 10-7, to Wootton, but Blue Devils' Coach Kearney Francis took some positives out of the game.
Springbrook trailed, 5-1, but rallied and got within a goal before fading. And they did it without senior midfielder Katie Simmons. A four-year starter, Simmons, who scored 20 goals in the Blue Devils' first four games, was out of the lineup after having her appendix removed.
"I was very happy with how they played," Francis said. "I was afraid Katie's being out would spook them, but they rose to the challenge."
Simmons is one of several Blue Devils currently out of the lineup, but Francis hopes to have her full roster intact after Spring Break.
Without the Mount St. Mary's-bound Simmons in the lineup Saturday, junior Allison Kessler scored four goals. Junior Kelcey Depass has four goals in the Blue Devils' last two games.
Better With Age
After earning finishing last season with a record of 8-6 and claiming the Montgomery County 3A/2A/1A Division title, the Poolesville girls team entered the 2003 season with higher expectations.
"We had a good team last year, but I think we're even better this year," said John Slagle, who coaches the team along with Ken Fitzwater.
The Falcons' record states as much. Poolesville has started the season 5-0. And three of the Falcons' victories (over Wootton, Churchill and Wheaton) came against teams that beat them last season.
Poolesville has an experienced offense led by returning seniors Angela Dimopolous, Abby Johnson and Melissa Martin and junior Emily Rose, last year's leading scorer. Senior Karen Billerbeck, who missed last season with a broken foot, has added an extra boost.
"These girls, they expect to win when they step on the field," Slagle said.