Dylan Jinks of Southern Regional High School heard the shouts just about every time he touched the ball on the lacrosse field this season.
"Watch out for 18," opposing defenders yelled, identifying Jinks by his jersey number. "Number 18 has it," they said with urgency.
Jinks demanded the attention with his talent. The sophomore is The Press Boys Lacrosse Player of the Year. Jinks scored 53 goals and contributed 33 assists to lead the Rams to the South Jersey Group IV title and the state Group IV and Shore Conference finals.
Jinks, who lives in the Manahawkin section of Stafford Township, comes from a lacrosse family. His father, Mike, a Southern Regional teacher, is an assistant at the school and good friends with Rams head coach John Pampalone.
Dylan's brother Nick, a senior, is a standout Southern defender and a Press All-Star, It was Pampalone who helped get Dylan started. He gave the Jinks family some used lacrosse sticks for Dylan and Nick to use when they were young.
"He gave us a couple of sticks just to mess around and see if we liked the game," Dylan said, "so we didn't go out and spend a bunch of money on expensive sticks. We were just testing out the game."
Dylan started in the second grade and immediately took to the sport.
"I loved how unique the sport is and how fast paced it is," he said. " He soon began to play for the Black Storm - a high-powered club team in Medford.
"I wanted to make myself the best I could be," Jinks said. "They really helped my game and my overall lacrosse IQ. They knew I was a Stafford kid who didn't know the game that much."
Jinks quickly established himself as one of the region's top high school players when he scored 52 goals as a freshman last season.
"He's just a relentless scorer," Pampalone said. "He might be held down for a lot of the game, but he continues to work and at the end of the day the scorebook always says four or five goals for Dylan. He's not going to be denied."
This season, defenses began to focus on Dylan. It took him a few games to adjust. But he soon made defenses pay for focusing on him with precision passes to teammates to setup scoring opportunities for them.
"It was difficult for him early in the season," Pampalone said. "But as the season wore on, he became more comfortable. He's an unselfish player and allows the game to come to him a little bit."
Jinks, 16, knows the attention he receives and pressure on him will only increase as he gets older.
"I don't want to be the guy who has two outstanding years and falls off the radar," Jinks said. "I just want to keep going."
Team of the Year
Pampalone changed the focus of the Southern Regional lacrosse program a few a years ago.
The Rams began to look for lacrosse players and not just great athletes who could play the sport.
"We put a plan in place," Pampalone said, "having kids play travel lacrosse, entering fall and winter leagues."
Southern's program emerged as one of the state's best this season. The Rams had the best record in school history (18-2) and finished No. 3 in The Press Elite 11. They are The Press Boys Lacrosse Team of the Year.
Southern beat Monroe 19-5 to win the South Jersey Group IV title on May 25. The Rams lost to Ridge 12-4 in the state final on May 29. Ridge went on to win the Tournament of Champions.
The Rams knew they had potential before this season. They returned 21 players from the 2012 team that won 17 games.
"Learning how to deal with the expectations and the pressure was mentally draining at times," Pampalone said. "We had to learn how to do that. As the year went on, we got better at it. It was a tremendous run and a group that lived up to every expectation."
Coach of the Year
Pampalone was there when the Southern lacrosse program started 11 years ago.
He was there this year for the best season in school history. Pampalone is The Press Coach of the Year.
Pampalone was an assistant when the program started in 2000. He became head coach in 2006.
"We modeled our program after some of the best teams in the state," Pampalone said. "We hoped to reach this day, and it's been a great experience."
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