George Harris had a lot of high hopes for his senior year.
And thanks to some hard work and talented teammates, all those goals came true.
Harris was a senior defender on the Archbishop Ryan High School boys lacrosse team, and coming into his senior year, he experienced three wins during his high school career.
One win was freshman year, two wins junior year. Sophomore year was a washout due to the coronavirus pandemic, and that probably hurt teams like the Raiders and Father Judge more than most.
In the suburbs, Catholic League teams have rosters full of experienced lacrosse players, but many of the city players pick up a stick for the first time when they get to high school. So missing a year of action definitely didn’t help the Raiders.
But this year, thanks to some experienced players, the Raiders put up seven victories and advanced to the Catholic League playoffs.
“It was a great year, I think everyone kind of started playing well together because we had some experience and we worked hard,” said Harris, a defender who lives in Chalfont. “I didn’t really know what to expect when the season started, but I wanted better than the past four years. But winning seven games and making the playoffs, it was a great way to end off your career like that.
“We just had a good group of people and everyone cared. We had a good senior class, there were five of us, and the younger guys were good. Some had experience, but we all had the same goal.”
Every player on the team worked toward a common goal, but Harris was happy to be the guy leading the way.
And he did so on and of the field.
Off the field, since he had the most experience, he was happy to find time during practice to show the other players what they needed to do to compete against the tough teams in the Catholic League.
On the field, Harris had quite the assignment, and no matter how hard it was, he stuck to it.
“Every game, I would go up against the other team’s best player, I would guard them,” Harris said. “I liked it. I would say it’s a lot like covering someone in basketball. You don’t know where they’re going to go. You just have to watch them and make sure they don’t get scoring chances.”
Harris gave opposing stars fits, and it’s why he was selected First-Team All-Catholic for the first time in his career.
“It meant a lot, I think people saw that I would cover the other team’s best guy and I did pretty well,” Harris said. “I thought last year me and a senior had a chance to get All-Catholic, and after I didn’t, it was a goal of mine to get it. So I was really happy to get it.”
Part of the reason he was selected was because of his ability to shut down other people. But Harris also knows some of that All-Catholic honor came because of the way he led the Raiders.
Unlike most of his teammates, Harris began playing lacrosse when he was in first grade. At the time, he was a football player for Calvary AA, and a football coach mentioned he should try the new sport.
He played it for the rest of his career, and actually gave up football after his freshman year at Ryan.
It couldn’t have worked out any better.
“I liked being a leader, and I liked helping the younger guys,” Harris said. “We didn’t have a lot of guys with a lot of experience. We would have to start with basics. I don’t mean we had to learn how to catch and cradle, but we had to learn a lot of things that guys who played before already know how to do.
“I had experience, but I was mostly a middy. We had a game against Bonner freshman year and the seniors weren’t there. One of our defenders got ejected and they moved me to defense, and I had a really good game. I was able to help the defense and the middys.”
Next year, Harris will continue his lacrosse career at Bryn Athyn. He’s going to study business.
“I just visited, it’s a small school, but it’s great,” Harris said. “I like business, I guess because it’s a lot like sports. You have to be a good leader and you have to do your own thing, try to make everything work out.”
Before he hits college, he’s going to spend his summer in Wildwood. He’s eyeing a job renting beach chairs.
He’ll miss playing for Ryan, but he’s not sure he’s closing that chapter of his career. He knows he could always be back.
“We have a guy who played for us and graduated, Jimmy Van Allen, who has come back and helped the junior varsity team,” Harris said. “I would love to coach. He sees what guys are doing wrong and helps them. I would love to come back and help. I loved playing here.
“I’m going to miss everything about playing for Ryan. Mostly the coaches and the players. We had a great year this year, I’m glad that’s how we’re going out. And we left them in a season where they can follow. I think they’re going to be really good next year.”