The N.C. High School Athletic Association is classifying boys’ lacrosse this spring for the first time so 4A Apex will no longer battle 3A Cardinal Gibbons in the regular season and the playoffs. Gibbons moves into the NCHSAA’s new 3A/2A/1A combined bracket.
Gibbons was the favorite to win last year’s NCHSAA title but was upset by rival Apex in the third round. The Crusaders (18-2) had beaten Apex twice in conference play.
But Apex (20-2) won the third-round playoff game 13-9 and went on to claim the state title with a 12-11 victory over Lake Norman.
Southern Pines Pinecrest, Fuquay-Varina, Northern Vance, Topsail, South Brunswick, Havelock and Jacksonville White Oak plan to field boys lacrosse teams this spring.
Teams to watch
Apex (20-2): The 2013 state champions return 12 who played in the 2013 title game. Mike Daum (30 goals), VMI recruit Colby Lalicker, and goalie Tyler Nesbitt, who was red-hot in the postseason and earned N&O All-Metro honors after gaining state championship game MVP honors, lead the veterans. Junior Brendan Farrell scored 37 goals in 2013 and defenders Cameron Randall and Joe Copeland also are back.
Cardinal Gibbons (18-2): The Crusaders will have all-conference picks Robbie Lavelle and Chris Lappin to go along with midfielder Gannon Morrison, a Marist recruit, who was an all-American pick with 42 goals and 37 assists.
East Chapel Hill (16-3): East Chapel Hill lost to Apex, 11-7, in the Eastern championship game. Hampden-Sydney recruit Ian Levin, who led the area in scoring in 2013 with 109 points, is back as is top defender Daniel Wittekind.
Ravenscroft (12-5): The Ravens were a state semifinalist in the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association playoffs led by senior attacker Jamie Herakovich (41 goals, 16 assists).
Broughton (16-3): The Caps made a push into the third round last season behind Washington & Lee recruit Davis Weaver (56 goals, 20 assists). Nine starters return. Sophomore midfielder Mitchell Snyder and junior Hayden Lovett, a High Point commitment, were all-conference. Senior midfielder Drew Hinton is a Hampden Sydney commitment.
Holly Springs (12-6): The Hawks lost 7-6 in overtime in the second round to Broughton after taking down Durham Jordan 10-8 in the first round.
Jordan (13-3): Thomas Schmidt is an all-American pick at midfield and Boston University senior recruit Patrick Rowe also returns.
Chapel Hill (12-5): Tigers lost to Gibbons 15-8 in the second round and returns junior Colin Mraz (38 goals, 18 assists).
Middle Creek (10-7): The Mustangs return all-conference player Justin Medwar, a Lynchburg College recruit.
Riverside (11-7): The Pirates return 18 players including C.J. Carpenter to a team that made it to the second round of the NCHSAA playoffs.
Athens Drive (7-9): Jaguars will be led by its fifth coach in as many seasons but have senior leaders Scott Baird (Mercer), Justin Moody and Giancarlo Vasselli.
Leesville Road (12-5): Nine starters return for the Pride, including all-conference picks Ryan Moreno, Cody Close and Drew Farrell.
Heritage (6-10): The Huskies expect better things with the return of Dillon Campbell (Navy), Justin Potwin (Limestone) and Ryan Varner (Belmont Abbey).
J. Mike Blake: 919-460-2606;