Saturday was the morning after for the football programs at Grafton, Poquoson and Warhill high schools. None was embarrassed in losing their Region I playoff first-round contests Friday, but none came close to knocking off higher-seeded opponents either.
Now they look back on 2012 seasons that, in the cases of Warhill and Poquoson, pretty much equaled expectations and seemingly set the stage for better things to come. For Grafton, the 34-28 defeat at King George ended a season when it began as the regional favorite and concluded with the departure of some of its best talent.
Grafton to rebuild
The Region I Division 4 playoff game was the final one for receiver Jesse Santiago, who caught six passes for 129 yards, including touchdown passes of 77 and 24 yards. Clippers coach Jared Van Acker thought Santiago should’ve had another touchdown on a jump-ball play ruled an interception instead of a reception. The score was tied 14-14 at the time, and King George scored the next 20 points.
Santiago will play next year for VMI or some other FCS school, while the Clippers (4-7) also lose Marcus Spearman, a two-way skill threat heading to Harvard. Two-way linemen Jacob Mazgajewski, Tim Richard and Dylan McDonald, injured QB Jett Johnson and running back Dylan Bartells (a 1,300-plus yards rushing in 2011) also graduate.
The cupboard won’t exactly be bare, even at the skill positions, where a quickly emerging quarterback, Evan Sperling (311 yards passing, 3 TDs vs. King George), leads the way. But the expectations will certainly be lower for the 2013 team than it was for this year’s.
“I’m not disappointed in this year’s team, because I’m never disappointed in young men who come together in pursuit of a common goal,” Van Acker said. “Next year will be determined by the work our returning players put in during the offseason.”
Warhill’s 2013 promising
A 21-7 loss at Courtland sent the Lions (6-5) home a week earlier than last year. But injuries sidelined skill standout Reggie Lipscomb and Bryce Johnston, the Lions’ most physical two-way lineman, for nearly the entire season.
Despite that, inexperience on the lines, and some ups and downs along the way, the Lions finished the regular season with emphatic and impressive victories over Tabb and Jamestown.
The victories earned the Lions a Region I Division 4 playoff berth at the expense of those teams.
“The season could’ve (gone) downhill real fast, but the guys played hard,” Warhill coach Billy Jarvis said. “We feel good about getting a second consecutive winning season and playoff berth, and we hope what we’re doing gets a tradition going.”
The Lions have big holes to fill with the graduation of 6-foot-8, 300-pound lineman Parker Osterloh, who will play at Virginia Tech on scholarship, and QB Seth Thompson (650 yards passing). The return of Bay Rivers District Offensive Player of the Year Devonte Dedmon (2,150 total yards, 26 TDs) and eight starters on both sides of the ball makes a return to the playoffs a good possibility.
“We feel good about where the program is headed,” Jarvis said.
Poquoson looks to mature
The 26-6 loss Friday at York in the Region I Division 3 first round showed that the Islanders (4-7) were a year or so away from being playoff-ready. When that year arrives, all but three of the starters in uniform for the York game could be back.
“We need to get a little bigger, stronger and more mature,” Islanders coach Elliott Duty said. “Hopefully the experience of being in the playoffs and losing will be a motivator for the kids to get into the weight room.”
Among the key players expected to return are Grayson Boyce and Austin Turner, who combined to run for about 1,300 yards and 16 touchdowns, and were standouts on the defense. The lines were led by second-team all-district selections Hunter Southall and Seth Norton.
This and that
Freshman running back JoMari Becnel returned for York on Friday after missing several weeks with a broken wrist, and set up touchdowns with a 40-yard run and 14-yard reception.
The Falcons allowed only 2 yards passing in beating Poquoson, getting good play again from defensive backs Jordan West, Devin Campbell, Dalton Dye and Myles Brown. ...
Smithfield’s Region I Division 4 semifinal against King George will be played at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. The contest originally was scheduled for Friday night.