There are only two schools in this area that field lacrosse teams.
One of those is Canfield, which has a lacrosse squad for the first time this season.
Lacrosse is only a club sport in Canfield so that means it is not affiliated with the school system and all expenses are paid by parents and through fundraisers. That still doesn't mean that there aren't some very inspired Cardinals representing Canfield in this fast-rising sport.
"I can't begin to tell you how proud I am of the effort these kids display on a week-to-week basis," wrote Canfield head coach Ryan Farr in an email. "It's great to hear that the community is beginning to identify the hard work these guys are putting in."
There is certainly a ton of hard work that goes into being a local lacrosse player. One disadvantage these Cardinals have is that they have to play most of their games in either Canton or Cleveland. Another hindrance is that lacrosse isn't exactly an easy activity to endure. This sport combines the physicality of football with the endurance of soccer and the concepts of hockey and basketball. That is why this first-year franchise is even getting some pointers from opposing players during games. They are also receiving rave reviews from those same adversaries.
"Every referee or (opposing) coach has said how we don't look like a first-year team," Farr said. "That's due to (the players') commitment and how they continually challenge themselves."
Not only are the Cardinals challenging themselves to get better, but also they have been competing admirably against what is a very challenging schedule. Canfield plays in the Northeast Division of the Ohio High School Lacrosse Association. Most of the teams they are battling are established Division I programs. Following a 7-1 victory over Wadsworth last weekend, Canfield owned a respectable 4-5 record. Wins over Meadville-Crawford, Pa., and Grand River Academy by a combined score of 20-4 gave the Cardinals three wins in a row heading into this week's games against those same two squads. While camaraderie for the rookie club has been one of its top priorities, winning has apparently made an appearance too.
Of course, coach Farr is no stranger to being successful in lacrosse. He was a player on a very good Malone College team. He is also a pastor at Old North Church in Canfield, so that enables him to be calm, patient and a good communicator with the youngsters.
Canfield's club is made up of 18 players and is led by six seniors. Those seniors are attackman D.J. Cospy, midfielder Spencer McGarragher and defensemen Joe Yobi, Jon Wagner, Pat Nagi and Scott Hull.
That group of upperclassmen is looking to establish themselves not only as representatives of Canfield High School, but of this entire region as well. Although lacrosse was invented by Native Americans and is recognized as the oldest American sport, it has yet to catch on in this football-crazed community. That's where Farr and his young friends come in.
"This team has given a great opportunity for this community to really make a name for the Youngstown area in lacrosse," said Farr. "Our area has a tremendous history of producing tremendous athletes in so many sports, it should be no different for the sport of lacrosse."