DUAL THREAT

A lacrosse player first, Wicks is prov­ing just as valu­able for St. Mary’s foot­ball team

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - VARSITY - By Bob Hough

If foot­ball is con­sid­ered Alex Wicks’ sec­ond sport, he must be re­ally good at his main sport.

That main sport for the St. Mary’s se­nior is lacrosse. Wicks’ tal­ent on the lacrosse field has earned him a schol­ar­ship to Mary­land. When he’s not run­ning around Pas­cal Field track­ing down a ground ball, he’s run­ning away from op­pos­ing de­fenses as a mem­ber of the Saints’ two-time de­fend­ing Mary­land In­ter­scholas­tic Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion B Con­fer­ence foot­ball cham­pi­ons.

Wicks has emerged as one of the top run­ning backs in the MIAA and Anne Arun­del County. Af­ter serv­ing in more of a pla­toon role last year, he is the Saints’ top back this year. He ran for 959 yards and seven touch­downs last year but has al­ready sur­passed those num­bers this year.

“I’d like to have a few more kids who play lacrosse also play foot­ball,” St. Mary’s coach Ja­son Bu­droni said. “He’s got­ten bet­ter as a run­ning back this year. He’s be­come a bet­ter run­ning back, a lit­tle more pa­tient in the hole, and he’s us­ing his blocks a lit­tle bet­ter this year. If you miss him, he’s gone.”

Through the Saints’ first six games, Wicks has rushed for 1,090 yards on 158 car­ries (6.9-yard av­er­age) and scored 18 touch­downs. He ran for 205 yards and five touch­downs against AACS af­ter amass­ing a com­bined 455 yards and seven touch­downs his first two games of the sea­son. Fol­low­ing the AACS game, he scored two touch­downs in each of the next three games to help St. Mary’s build a four-game win­ning streak be­fore Fri­day night’s loss to Pal­lotti.

Though foot­ball might be con­sid­ered his sec­ond sport, that doesn’t mean Wicks is sim­ply us­ing it as a means to stay in shape for lacrosse.

“I’m a lacrosse player who plays foot­ball,” said Wicks, who ran for a sea­son-high 231 yards Sept. 6 against Del­mar (Del.). “

I’ve al­ways played foot­ball as long as I played lacrosse. I was blessed with the op­por­tu­nity to be good enough at lacrosse to get a schol­ar­ship, but foot­ball is great and I just love it. It gives you a good chance to com­pete.”

On the lacrosse field, Wick is what coach Vic­tor Lilly de­scribed as a “ground-ball ma­chine.” The first-team all-county se­lec­tion gob­bled up 79 grounders last year while ad­ding 10 goals, nine as­sists and 15 caused turnovers. Along with fel­low all­county se­lec­tions BJ Burlace and Will Tomi­novich, Wicks was in­vited to try out for the United States Men’s Un­der-19 na­tional team.

At just 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds, Wicks cer­tainly isn’t the big­gest run­ning back. Af­ter car­ry­ing the ball 175 times all of last year, he’s al­ready up to 158 car­ries this year with four reg­u­lar-sea­son games left.

“That’s some­thing I take pride in,” Wicks said. “Be­ing a smaller guy, some play­ers over­look me. Es­pe­cially early in games, they might hit me pretty hard and they’ll think I’m weak. I might be small for my po­si­tion.”

Bu­droni said he has no­ticed teams are stack­ing the box in an at­tempt to stop Wicks and fel­low back Ki’Sean Gray-Dant­zler. How­ever, the rush­ing pro­duc­tion by Wicks and the Saints has re­mained con­sis­tent.

Wicks was held un­der 100 yards for the first time in six games in last Fri­day’s win over Con­cor­dia Prep, but the Saints had a com­fort­able lead so he only car­ried the ball 18 times. Through St. Mary’s first six games of the sea­son, he av­er­aged 26 car­ries a game.

“Alex wears peo­ple out too,” said as­sis­tant coach Mike Adams, who works with the run­ning backs. “Yes, he is fast and has great vi­sion and bal­ance. His 25th carry is just as hard as his first.”

As his high school foot­ball ca­reer winds down, Wicks is hop­ing to lead the team to a third straight MIAA B Con­fer­ence ti­tle. He’ll spend the win­ter work­ing out in prepa­ra­tion for his fi­nal high school lacrosse sea­son be­fore head­ing to Col­lege Park to join the long list of county ath­letes who’ve gone on to play col­lege lacrosse.

“I’m just mak­ing the best of my high school foot­ball times,” he said. “We only have a few more Fri­day nights left to play, then hope­fully we can get a few more and win a cham­pi­onship.”

JOSHUA MCKERROW/BAL­TI­MORE SUN ME­DIA

St. Mary’s run­ning back Alex Wicks is av­er­ag­ing more than 26 car­ries a game.

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