BELLINGHAM - You can tell a high school lacrosse team is serious about competing when all six water boys are lined up wearing their helmets, wishing they were old enough to play on the varsity.
Who knows? By the time those first- and second-graders are old enough, lacrosse may be state-sanctioned and perhaps just as popular as several other sanctioned team sports.
The Sehome-Bellingham Warriors seemed just as serious as could be as they closed in on the Division I Wesco/Northwest Conference title with a rousing 17-5 victory over Kamiak to cap a day when nearly 200 local school boys and girls participated in a celebration of their fast-growing sport on Friday, May 2, at Civic Stadium.
Dozens and dozens of lacrosse sticks were visible throughout the stadium grounds, and it only seemed as though Sehome-Bellingham (9-1 overall, 8-0 conference) was using all of them during the Warriors' assault on Kamiak (6-4, 5-3).
The Warriors - who need to win one of their final two conference games next week to clinch the title and a spot in the state playoffs - were obviously pumped.
But then, who wouldn't be when all the younger kids in your program form a human tunnel, complete with waving lacrosse sticks, to send the team on to the field?
"Lots of these kids probably sleep with their lacrosse sticks," said John Heritage, a program coordinator for younger players and a varsity volunteer.
Sehome-Bellingham coach Tyler Farrar agreed about his team's all-business attitude.
"We've been playing very well, better than I expected (at this point)," Farrar said before the remarkably intense game, which lasted until after 10 p.m. because of a plethora of penalties by both teams, face-offs and out-of-bounds plays on exciting shots.
"We've been playing very good fundamental lacrosse," he said. "These guys are very serious about it. Every single one of them wants to see lacrosse sanctioned as a regular high school sport. People say it will take maybe five to 10 years."
Right now, though, the Warriors are showing they need only 5 to 10 minutes to score in bunches.
The Warriors, who came in with 91 goals and only 50 allowed, took a 2-0 lead in the first six minutes on goals by Zachary Lorenz (unassisted) and Mark Gannon (assisted by Adam Estrada).
Lorenz finished with six goals and three assists in one of the state's best efforts this season.
Nash Boyd had three goals, as did Gannon, who added two assists. In all, nine of the team's 18 players had either a goal, an assist or both. Jackson Zerba scored twice and Chance Clymer and Nathan Heritage scored one goal apiece.
Lorenz scored 23 seconds into the second quarter on an assist by Gavin Kaepernick before Kamiak posted its first goal.
Then the Warriors really went to work, finishing with six second-quarter goals for an 8-3 halftime lead. Zerba, a freshman, converted an assist from Gannon with one second left in the half to end what amounted to an all-out blitz. Zerba also scored the first goal of the second half, off an assist by Alyis Clark only 1 minute and 12 seconds into the action.
In examples of true stick artistry, Boyd converted a fine assist from Lorenz and Gannon scored on a beautiful pass from Clymer for a 5-1 lead.
Kamiak, which came in with 137 goals scored and 64 permitted, was well-shackled by the Warriors' aggressive defense and goalkeeper Andrew Hoeman, who made numerous saves, with several of the spectacular variety.
One of the highlights of the night was fast-moving teamwork by the big pair of Boyd and Clymer, who crashed toward the goal as Clymer assisted Boyd for a goal and a 6-3 lead after Kamiak had threatened with two consecutive goals.
Kamiak star Alex Indelicato, a quick, clever freshman with fine stick work, came in tied for third in the state with 44 points on 26 goals and 18 assists. But the Warriors limited him to one goal and one assist while building an 11-3 bulge after three quarters.
At that point, Farrar said, "We're playing very, very well tonight. Our passing is right where it needs to be."