Junior lacrosse standout at Red Lion enjoying breakout season after college commitment

  • Junior Michael Wilburn has 62 goals this season for the Red Lion High boys' lacrosse team.
  • According to MaxPreps, that total is No. 2 in the state and No. 1 in the York-Adams League.
  • Wilburn has helped a young Red Lion team to an 8-5 record thus far in 2021.
Red Lion's Mike Wilburn handles the ball against host Central York during lacrosse action Saturday, April 24, 2021. Bill Kalina photo

It only took one trip to Florida to convince Michael Wilburn that he wanted to spend four years there.

The Red Lion High School junior lacrosse standout played in an Under Armour showcase event in Florida in January. Before the trip, he didn’t expect to pick the program where he wanted to play at in college. However, after one trip to Florida Southern College, and a few days in the sun, Wilburn was excited about the opportunity to join the NCAA Division II program.

“I got there and the weather was so nice,” Wilburn said. “It was so cold up here, I was like: ‘This is kind of nice.’”

So when Wilburn received an offer from Florida Southern’s coach after he took a second trip down south, there wasn’t much to consider. The Lions’ leading scorer committed a few days later to the school he had been interested in since he stepped onto campus the first time.

“That was the first offer I got face-to-face, so it's definitely felt super relieving almost,” Wilburn said. “I've been working so hard for so long and I knew when I was going back down (to Florida) that’s where I wanted to go, so when he said that, it really, really just relaxed and me."

Red Lion's Mike Wilburn handles the ball with pressure from Central York's Nick Ross, right, during lacrosse action at Central Saturday, April 24, 2021. Bill Kalina photo

Starting young: Wilburn started playing lacrosse in the fourth grade after being introduced to the sport by his father.

His passion for lacrosse grew as a kid while he looked up to the older boys in his neighborhood, including 2019 Red Lion graduates Eli Workinger and Zach Mentzer.

During his freshman season, the Lions’ junior leader loved the chance to play with the guys he had long looked up to. As a freshman, he moved to the midfield to earn a spot in the lineup. Wilburn had a strong season and was named a York-Adams League honorable-mention all-star with 34 goals and 25 assists.

Big junior season: The 2020 season was a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic, but this season, back at his usual attack position, Wilburn has already surpassed his freshman numbers.

The 6-foot, 1-inch junior has 62 goals and 29 assists in just 13 games. According to MaxPreps, his goal total is No. 2 in the state and No. 1 in the York-Adams League.

The experience of playing as a freshman taught him what he needed to improve on. Now, he's taken on the challenge of leading a young Red Lion team.

“I knew like I had a step up coming in, but as the season goes along, I've had these good stats, but other players ... have been stepping (up) throughout the year and our team is having a lot of success,” Wilburn said. “We're playing good lacrosse, but the numbers aren't always showing it.”

Young Lions aim for playoffs: Red Lion sits at 8-5 this season and is No. 11 in the District 3 Class 3-A power ratings. Twelve teams qualify for the district playoffs and reaching the postseason would be impressive for the young Lions team.

Along with Wilburn’s 62 goals, Red Lion’s other four double-digit scorers are all sophomores. Jack Gulley (29), Damian Stafford (27), Luke Miller (22) and Landon Craley (11) have all assumed large roles on the team in their first varsity seasons.

Red Lion's Jack Gulley, left, keeps possession with Central York's Cade Campbell defending during lacrosse action at Central Saturday, April 24, 2021. Bill Kalina photo

“We really saw that we could be something special because we're all playing really well and we're super young,” Wilburn said. “We don't have a senior that really plays that much, so we realize if we buy in now, we can be something really special in here in the future.”

Excited about Red Lion's prospects: Wilburn didn’t plan on picking his college program so early in the recruiting process, but was happy he did.

With his future set, Wilburn has set his sights solely on the present. With young talent on the roster, headlined by the elite junior scorer, Wilburn is excited about where the Lions can go before he heads down south.

“Being able to play after committing, now the focus — we’re gonna win high school championships here at Red Lion,” Wilburn said. “I know where I'm going, so I'm really focused on how we're going to win a championship here at Red Lion."

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.