At the end of each DeMatha Catholic High School boys' lacrosse practice the Stags divide into four groups, lining up on the corners of the field for a sprinting competition.
The players are left gasping for air by the end of the routine. That is, with the exception of tireless senior midfielder Greyson Torain.
“He's not just one of the fastest guys on our team,” DeMatha coach Scott Morrison said, “But he's one of the fastest guys in the region.”
The end-of-practice runs are just one part of a training regimen that has helped DeMatha (7-0) play its fastest — and best — lacrosse in years. Torain and the speedy Stags — scheduled to take part in Navy SEAL training Wednesday as part of their annual spring break trip — have put additional focus on strength and conditioning this season, helping them not only run their opponents, but outlast them.
“We just start wearing the teams down. In the fourth quarter, it just seems like they don't want to play anymore,” Torain said.
A U.S. Naval Academy recruit, Torain has helped the Stags outscore their opponents by a 90-20 margin with 12 goals and six assists.
“He has such a quick first step that he almost always beats his man,” said senior defenseman Johnny Surdick, who is set to play lacrosse at the United States Military Academy next year.
Torain, a safety on the football team, is surrounded by dual-sport athletes and Division I recruits. Playing at a fast pace and pushing the ball in transition, the senior-heavy group has handled most of its opponents with ease and is just four wins away from matching its 2013 win total (11-8).
In their one close victory — an 8-6 win over Bullis School on March 19 — the Stags surrendered the first foul goals but came out with more energy in the second half, outscoring the Bulldogs 5-0 in the fourth quarter to complete the comeback.
Continuity has played a significant role in the hot start, with 13 returning seniors and about seven returning starters, Morrison said.
“We're a year older which is huge. So naturally, high school kids get bigger, stronger faster,” Morrison said.
Added Torain: “A lot of us have matured and gotten better over the three years.”
DeMatha traveled to San Diego, Calif., on Saturday where it not only extended its undefeated season with wins over Archbishop Spalding, Poway and Scripps Ranch, but it also was scheduled to participate in mental toughness training as part of a Navy SEAL team building program that includes tire flipping and log lifting. The Stags have participated in the program annually since the spring of 2011, months after DeMatha alumnus and Navy SEAL Brendan Looney died in a 2010 helicopter crash in Afghanistan.
DeMatha, which lost to Paul VI Catholic in last year's semifinals, has not won a championship since 2009. The Stags won 10 of 11 titles between 1999 to 2009 but Gonzaga has taken the last four, a trend that senior midfielder Brady Thompson, a Lehigh University recruit, hopes to put an end to this postseason.
“The expectation every year is a championship. This year we're bringing back a lot of talent, it's pretty much championship or bust,” Thompson said. “... It's going to take trust in the coaches and the players. That's going to be a major thing that we need.”