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De Smet vs. MICDS lacrosse

Graham Bundy Jr. of MICDS celebrates after scoring a goal during the Misssouri Scholastic Lacrosse Association championship against De Smet on Friday, May 24, 2019 at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo. Paul Kopsky, STLhighschoolsports.com

LADUE — Graham Bundy Jr. cannot think of a sport he doesn’t like.

As the third of four active brothers, the recent MICDS graduate has dabbled in most of them.

“I try and stay active, whether it’s playing basketball or golf or tennis with my buddies,” Bundy said, squinting in the morning sun as grade-school boys practiced lacrosse on a nearby turf. “I try to get a little taste of everything, try to make sure I’m using all of my abilities in different sports and in different forms.”

Bundy likes all the sports, but he loves lacrosse and football. In his senior year, he played for a state title in each, and was the Rams’ leading scorer on both the Class 4 state football runner-up and MSLA state championship squads.

Still, the now two-time Post-Dispatch All-Metro boys lacrosse player of the year never doubted which sport he’d play at the college level. Bundy committed to Georgetown University as a freshman, then went on to shatter Missouri’s single-season (146 points) and career (421) scoring records his junior and senior seasons.

In 2019 alone, the senior midfielder scored 72 goals, led the area with 65 assists and scooped up 44 ground balls for the 18-1 Rams.

Bundy will focus only on lacrosse at Georgetown. He entertained the notion of trying to also play football for the Hoyas but decided against it.

“I never wondered what if I switched to playing football,” Bundy said. “It was more of a, ‘What if I can play both?’ I’ve always loved lacrosse, but I’ve also grown to love football.”

Football loved him back.

Class 4 state championship: Ladue vs. MICDS

MICDS' Graham Bundy Jr. runs down the sideline for a first down during the Missouri Class 4 State Championship football game on Friday, Nov. 30, 2018, at Faurot Field in Columbia, Mo. Randy Kemp | Special to STLhighschoolsports.com

As a slotback/safety/kicker for the Rams last season, Bundy accumulated 1,279 total yards from scrimmage with 24 touchdowns. He kicked six field goals and 16 extra points, and on defense racked up 70 tackles and seven interceptions in MICDS' best football season since 2011, when Bundy’s oldest brother Foster played.

“I grew up watching (Foster) and his buddies,” Bundy said. “Whatever they did, that was what I wanted to do. Same with my  brother Gaines (2017 MICDS graduate). There wasn’t any other path. I did whatever my older brothers were doing.”

Bundy has been an exceptional two-way athlete — but he’s not the exception in a powerhouse lacrosse program that has now won six consecutive state titles.

“We believe that if you’re out on your own as a single-sport athlete, then it’s incredibly difficult to keep the discipline needed to be extremely competitive,” MICDS coach Andy Kay said. “With the strength and conditioning that (Bundy) gets from football season, he becomes an extremely well-rounded lacrosse player.”

The same could be said of Bundy’s fellow All-Metro MICDS teammates.

Boston University-bound senior Thomas Niedringhaus led the Rams with 77 goals, while adding 49 assists and 61 ground balls. He was the tight end on the football team.

Penn State-bound Henry Carpenter (61 goals, 25 assists, 37 ground balls) led the football Rams’ defense with 183 tackles and five quarterback sacks from the middle linebacker position.

“Carpenter was an animal, the don of our defense,” Bundy said.

Nico Feldman, Crawford Bundy and Will Kacmarek also strapped on football helmets in the fall before earning All-Metro honors as lacrosse standouts in the spring.

“Through the years, the teams I’ve been a part of, you’ll see that a lot of the kids on the football team are a lot of the kids on the lacrosse team,” Bundy said. “Those two teams just co-exist very well. It’s a very similar locker room.”

The overlap of MICDS football and lacrosse had a lot to do with the Rams’ motivation prior to their 15-1 victory against De Smet in the MSLA state championship game. The Spartans had come too close in a 15-12 MICDS victory in the regular season. When a feature story on De Smet’s lacrosse team ran in the Post-Dispatch as the playoffs got underway, the Rams thought it came too close to suggesting the Spartans had gained parity with the five-time defending champs.

“We knew after the first De Smet game that we did not play to the best of our ability,” Bundy said. “I mean, it felt like we lost the game, if I’m being honest with you. In that game, if we showed anything, it was that there was a team in Missouri that can hang with us.”

The seniors had never lost a lacrosse game to a foe from Missouri. That was one thing. But many of those same athletes had lost the previous November in a championship football game, 48-11, to a Ladue team from just down Warson Avenue.

With ruffled pride in one hand and the experience of a state title football game loss in the other, the Rams’ lacrosse squad had all the incentive it needed as the postseason began.

“Losing that football game to Ladue gave us an edge,” Niedringhaus said. “That was the first time any of us had gotten to a state title game and experienced the other side, losing and having that bad taste in your mouth. We weren’t going to feel that pain again.”

Kay didn’t miss the opportunity to sharpen that emotional edge.

“We had those (De Smet feature) articles blown up and hung up in the locker room,” Kay said. “Our motivation was to prove people wrong.”

The Rams hit the playoffs in Cobra Kai mode. They struck first. They struck hard. They showed no mercy. After beating John Burroughs and St. Louis University High by a combined score of 40-5 in the quarters and semifinals, it was time to face De Smet again.

Bundy set the tone. Off the opening faceoff, he charged right at Spartans’ all-state goalie Dylan Radke and attacked the net for the first of his six goals on the night.

The Rams had 10 goals before the Spartans finally scored. They still didn’t let up.

“Our coaches and players do a really good job of staying uncomfortable all the time,” Kay said. “Even in the state championship game, we’re all over the refs because we were competing. We went into halftime up 10-1 and our guys still felt like they had to keep their foot on the gas.”

The Rams floored it all the way to their sixth consecutive title, leaving any and all doubts of their dominance in the dust.

Three weeks later, Bundy showed up at the MICDS lacrosse turf early on a Thursday morning to reflect on the years he spent there, and what he’ll remember as life carries him toward and then through adulthood.

“It’s going to be the locker rooms,” Bundy said. “It’s going to be the culture, the brotherhood.”

Bundy was also at MICDS that morning to coach the elementary school players, to give back, to complete the circle. Missouri’s all-time leading scorer still remembers when he was one of those boys, squinting up at his teenage heroes.

“If a varsity kid just came up to me and said, 'How you doing, buddy?’, that’s all I needed,” Bundy said. “I remember when they’d tease me, ruffle my hair and say, ‘Look at him, he’s going to be on varsity some day.’ ”

Bundy’s varsity days came and went. He’s been there, done it, crushed it.

He wants to inspire the Rams’ next record-breaking player.

“I want to be a guy like that,” Bundy said. “I remember how much it impacted me as a younger kid looking up to my older brothers and their buddies. I want to have that impact too. Culture is what we do around here.”

ALL-METRO FIRST TEAM

ALL-METRO SECOND TEAM

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