South Western senior Carnie Fryfogle III carried a vanilla milk shake to his table at Dutch Country Diner in Hanover (Pa.), clutching it with the same fervor that a father does his newborn son.
“You see this,” said Fryfogle, pointing to his milk shake. “I treat this like the lacrosse ball. You can’t ever let it hit the ground. That would be foul. That would be criminal.”
For the South Western boys’ lacrosse team, Fryfogle has more than carry the ball. He’s carried the scoring mantle. He’s shouldered the burden of a leader.
Fryfogle rips shots, absorbs the brutal hits in front of the net and induces slides. Most important, the light but chiseled middie facilitates the high-low game that his father -- South Western head coach Carnie Fryfogle Jr. -- preaches.
“Our focus as a team is always to beat some kids down, to play tough and blanketing defense, to lock up on the top scorer,” said Fryfogle, who scored 44 goals and assisted on 33 others for the Mustangs this season.
“My Dad and I both hate to lose. That’s something we’ve always shared, just that distaste for losing.
"We hate it. When I was a young kid, we would play everything from T-ball to a simple game of cards and he’d always do everything in his power to beat me. He put some pressure on me about playing lacrosse. It almost became an everyday thing, something he couldn’t let go. Finally I just said, ‘yeah, I’ll do it. I’ll play.’”
Dad knows best.
Fryfogle III’s blend of stick skills and nose for the net earned him a spot on the varsity team during his freshman season.
By the season’s end, Fryfogle developed a knack for scoring contested shots and dumping in passes after inducing a slide. His penchant for keeping possessions alive, hunting for his shot on the fly allowed his stock to balloon. His net vision has drawn comparisons to Kevin Interlicchio, the Johns Hopkins attackman whose scoring prowess re-wrote the record books at perennial power Yorktown (N.Y.).
Fryfogle III’s ability to bulldoze through traffic has attracted NCAA suitors such as Gettysburg, Essex College (Md.), and Elizabethtown.
Fryfogle, 18, said he’s leaning towards Essex, but he remains undecided.
His dad hails from nearby Carrol County. He was known for his four-year career as a running back in football and a midfielder in lacrosse at South Carrol High School.
“The one game my Dad was being recruited,” said Fryfogle III, “he blew out his knee.”
While sustaining that fatal blow may have tarnished Fryfogle Jr.’s athletic career, it did nothing to dampen his dad's competitive spirit.
“From as long back as I can remember, my Dad has given me speeches about what it takes to be the best, what it takes to throttle the competition, and what it takes to get the edge on the guy out there who maybe working just as hard as you,” Fryfogle III said.
Fryfogle III learned the game as a bone-thin sixth grader on the Mustangs lacrosse club team. He was thrust into the role of the senior savior this season. During critical stages, Fryfogle put what seemed to be a patchwork team derailed by a rash of early injuries on his shouldes.
Fryfogle morphed into a prolific scorer, exploding for five goals during the Mustangs' 13-12 double overtime victory over Susquehannock.
During that game, which featured a matchup between Susquehannock’s Zach Speights (four goals), the Mustangs stormed back from an 11-8 deficit for the signature victory.
Fryfogle also was impressive during an 11-9 triumph over Central York on May 1. In that game, which Fryfogle said was the high-water mark of the season, he scored three goals and dealt out three assists. The win avenged a 15-10 loss on April 10.
Rivalry games seem to have some extra juice for Fryfogle. Against cross-town rival Spring Grove, Fryfogle led a 13-5 pelting with four goals and a game-high 12 ground balls. Against New Oxford, Fryfogle scored five goals and had three assists.
Fryfogle's presence has frequently lured double teams, opening up seams for a cluster of cutters. That's even as he entered the season a marked man.
During the season opener, a 17-5 victory over York Suburban, Fryfogle turned in a seven-goal, four-assist barrage.
It hasn't hurt that close friend Cody Mai has emerged as a key player, especially at the urging of Fryfogle's father.
Partly because of the confidence he’s always had in his teammate and partly at his father’s urging, Fryfogle III helped accelerate the production of Cody Mai.
Both Fryfogles implored Mai to be more aggressive this season and hunt for his shot. Mai has found the trigger, scoring 29 goals and adding 19 assists.
With teammate Rich Delea, who had 36 goals, they give South Western three legitimate scoring threats.
Fryfogle Jr. did not have the luxury of playing his high school games in the traditional lacrosse hotbed of Maryland. Despite his gaudy stats, Fryfogle III hasn’t earned the same star status as Maryland area players of similar style and make-up.
However, Fryfogle has proven he can hold his own with players from all over the country. He got a taste of elevated competition this summer when he played for the Bryne National All American team and competed in the prestigious Top 205 camp in Towson, Md.
“It was sweet,” said Fryfogle of the experience. “My team clicked from the very beginning.
"With the higher level of competition, everything is so much quicker. The game just goes by so quick, considering the ball never hits the ground. You’ve got to carry it with pride and a sense of value. You can’t ever let the ball drop.”
Just like his beloved milkshake.