Photo: Andrew McMurtrie. Peachtree Ridge's Cory Hall was selected as the Daily Post's boys lacrosse player of the year.
If anybody has embodied the Peachtree Ridge boys lacrosse program throughout its brief history, it is Cory Hall.
In addition to being a first-team All-County and adidas All-American selection last season, the senior attackman has been one of the most recognizable faces in a Lions uniform from the program's humble club beginnings through its transition to varsity play.
That's a lot for any young person to live up to, but the 2011 Daily Post Boys Lacrosse Player of the Year has, and Hall closed out his high school career this spring with his best season to date.
That comes as little surprise to Lions coach Bob Basher.
"He's actually the type of kid that always has a great attitude about lacrosse," Basher said of Hall. "He's one of the pioneers of our programs. He came in as a freshman when we were still a club program and started for us. If anybody's lived and died (Peachtree Ridge) lacrosse, it's him. He just thrives in (lacrosse). He loves game day."
That enjoyment definitely showed on his play on the field this year as he scored 60 goals and added 36 assists and 44 groundballs in helping Peachtree Ridge to a 15-5 record, including its first Area 4-AAAAA championship, its first Gwinnett County tournament championship and becoming the first county public school team to win a postseason game.
"I was kind of nervous after we lost a lot of top scorers besides me (from last season to graduation)," Hall said. "But really, I also got of help from guys who stepped up ... and did good things. ... It was awesome."
As Hall pointed out, several other Lions had impressive seasons, including veterans who earned All-County honors like seniors Tanner Botts, Tyler Botts, Gary Heusel and Austin Crowe and juniors Michael Ruffcorn and Greg Rose.
However, other younger Lions like freshman Steven Lee also made major contributions in the team's success, and Basher credits Hall's experience in helping some of those youngsters grow up in a hurry and maximize their skills.
"We had a lot of freshmen and sophomores who played, and (Hall) often pulled those kids aside and really helped them with their game," Basher said. "He is kind of like a coach on the field. He may even know more (about lacrosse) than I do in some ways. He's a true student of the game."
And as a student of the game, Hall realizes he is never done learning.
To that end, he had a very educational experience last summer that he says he was able to put to good use during the high school season this spring.
"Last summer, I went up north and played," Hall said. "It's a whole different game up there. It was the best experience of my career. We took a travel Atlanta team and played regular high school teams in New York (state), and we competed well with them. But it was just awesome to see how a high school team up there could compete.
"Just their stick skills and playing together as a team (were impressive). They weren't (necessarily) better athletes than we were, but they'd been playing together since they were 6 years old. They played so well as a team."
Basher also noticed a difference in Hall's game after his trip up north.
"I definitely think that experience was great for him," Basher said. "It made him think, 'You know, I may be pretty good, but I can always get better. I've still got a long way to go and a lot to learn.'"
Hall's lacrosse education figures to grow even further as takes his skills to the next level to play for the NCAA Division III program at Berry College in Rome in the fall.
Having just completed their inaugural season in April, the Vikings are in the process of establishing themselves in a similar manner to what Peachtree Ridge has been doing the last two seasons.
And Hall is looking forward to being right in the middle of another building program.
"They're kind of new," Hall said of Berry's program. "It's kind of awesome to be part of the first of everything. Once it gets big, I can look back and say, 'I helped build it.'"