Chris Surran wasn’t trying to put a damper on Jesuit’s first-ever Texas High School Lacrosse League title last spring.
However, after the Rangers finished celebrating their 9-4 upset of Highland Park in the title game in Allen, the Jesuit head coach had a clear message for his team: Forget about it.
Surran’s attention already had turned to the future, and on making sure the Rangers’ first state championship — after falling in the title game on four prior occasions — wasn’t also their last.
“I tried to put that championship season behind us immediately. We celebrated it, but we didn’t want it to carry over,” Surran said. “I was very well-aware of what comes after you win something like that. There’s a tendency to become complacent.”
As Jesuit aims to repeat this season, complacency hasn’t been the issue. Injuries have prevented the Rangers from fielding a full roster. And inexperience at key positions has come from the departure of last year’s large senior class, leaving a starting lineup with plenty of fresh faces.
“I knew there would be an adjustment period,” said Surran, who won an NCAA championship as an All-American player at Syracuse in 1993. “We’re trying to hang together and battle through the adversity. Despite all we’ve been through, we’re still in it.”
Indeed, the Rangers have been solid heading into the regular-season finale against rival ESD on April 28. For example, they are unbeaten on the road, something that might come in handy once post-season play begins in early May.
There has also been inconsistency, including an ugly 16-1 loss to perennial power St. Ignatius (Calif.) on Jesuit’s home field in March.
“It was a wake-up call for the kids,” Surran said.
Despite the steep learning curve, Surran credits the steady improvement of his young squad to a renewed focus on fundamentals. “They realize it’s possible even if they work hard and play the right way.”
It might land Jesuit back in the mix for another crown.
“The more experience they gain, the better these kids are going to get,” Surran said. “We’ve tried to build a blue-collar culture in a bit of a white-collar world. We believe we’re the underdog, but we also believe that we can accomplish our goals.”