Langley High boys’ lacrosse coach Earl Brewer has had numerous teams with stellar talent during his 13 year tenure as the programs’ head coach. And this year’s edition of Saxons’ lacrosse is right up there with the best of them as far as potential and skill level.
"We have a great group of kids," said Brewer, beginning his 14th year at the helm of Lanlgey lacrosse. "I think it’s one of the most talented teams I’ve ever had. I’m very excited."
Brewer said this year’s team worked hard as a unit during the offseason under coach Kevin Quinn, a friend of Brewer’s who was in charge of the Saxons during their offseason competition.
Langley, over the summer and fall, competed in three tournaments, including the Lax World Tournament at McDaniel College in Maryland, as well as the Rutgers Tournament in the New York area.
"I saw great improvement and confidence," said Brewer, pleased that so many players participated with the program year round. "The key was that the kids stayed together. They just did great, they really did."
Since Brewer became the Langley head coach in 1995, the Saxons have made it to the Northern Region finals on three occasions. All three times, the Saxons fell short of capturing the region crown (finals losses to Woodson in 1995, Robinson in 1998 and Oakton in 2005). So the Saxons are hungry to emerge as the region’s best team. Last year, Langley finished 12-4 overall and lost in the second round of the regional tournament to Chantilly. The Saxons, earlier that postseason, had lost in the Liberty District championship game to Woodson, 9-8, before winning a first round region playoff game over Edison.
<b>This year's Langley</b> squad will be particularly strong defensively. Key members of the Saxons’ defense will be seniors Brett Burnette, Patrick Pembroke and Will Myers, as well as junior Trevor Shafran.
Burnette, a 6-foot-4 inch, 225 pound team captain who is being recruited by several colleges, is a three-year letterman and two-time All-Liberty District selection.
"He’s a big, physical defender who can run the field," said Brewer, of Burnette. "He’s a candidate for the All-Academic team."
Pembroke, another team captain, also brings size and speed to the Saxons’ defense.
"He runs like a deer," said Brewer, of the 6-4, 195 pound Pembroke. "He’s being recruited for football and lacrosse."
And the 6-3, 200-pound Shafran is a dynamite player as well.
"He’s already getting Div. 1 looks," said Brewer. "He’s got unbelievable speed and size. He’s got great stick work and he plays great one-on-one defense. He’s going to be playing Div. 1 lacrosse."
Myers, a defender and long-stick midfielder as well, will be called upon to be a shutdown defender.
"He’s just tenacious and a great kid," said Brewer. "We’ll put him on the other teams’ best midfielder."
In the net for Langley will be junior Galen Kuney, a returning starter at the position.
"He’s a lot quicker in the goal," said Brewer, of the improvement he has seen from Kuney thus far.
<b>Leading Langley's</b> midfield will be senior Owen Masters, the team’s top face-off player and an all-district player a year ago.
"He’s one of the fastest guys you’ll see in Fairfax County this year," said Brewer. "He’s got great wheels and gets up and down the field. And he’s a great shooter. [Off the field] he’s a great student and a wonderful kid."
Another senior midfielder Brewer is looking for a top-notch season from is Tim Goeke.
"He got lots of playing time last year," said Brewer. "He’s fast and a great outside shooter."
Langley’s top returning scorer from last year is senior attack Greg Bentz, an all-district selection in 2007 who tallied 28 goals last year and 21 the year before as a sophomore.
Bentz is a team tri-captain along with Burnette and Pembroke.
"We’re looking for big things out of him," said Brewer, of Bentz.
Another key attackman for the Saxons will be junior Ryan Ningard.
"He’s going to be the quarterback of our offense," said Brewer, of Ningard. "He’ll be behind the goalie a lot of times. He’s fast and just a great player. He got a lot of playing time last year as a sophomore. Now, the job is his. He’s a tough kid."
Other big contributions at attack will come from seniors Jackson Spivey and Winston Moore.
"We have so many guys who are going to score for us this year," said Brewer, who teaches health and physical education at Cooper Middle School. "And my defense is just not going to give up many goals."
Langley, which scrimmaged a team from Texas (Southlake Carroll High) this past Saturday, is scheduled to open up the new season on March 27 with a home game against Liberty District opponent Marshall.
The Saxons will play a difficult non-district schedule once again, including games against private school power Landon (April 28 at Langley) and Broadneck High of Arnold, Md. (April 12 on the road).
Langley’s toughest district rivals this season are expected to be Woodson and Madison.