The last time we saw a turn-around like this in Bay Rivers District football was 2007, when Poquoson, 0-10 in 2006, earned a state playoff berth. Smithfield's reversal from a 1-9 record in 2011 might be even more spectacular.
The Packers are 5-0 at the midseason point and clearly the district's best team: not the case with the '07 Islanders. They've already beaten two of the district's best, Lafayette and York, to the delight of large home crowds.
If they beat preseason favorite Grafton on Saturday, they might run the table in the regular season.
Midseason player(s) of the year
DEFENSE | SMITHFIELD
How about 11 players? We're talking about the Smithfield defense. The unit is allowing only 10 points and 126 yards per game. There are speedy athletes everywhere, and when they get to the ball they lay the leather. Not bad for a group that allowed 30 or more points in six losses a year ago. Smithfield's defensive starters are DE Shatown Johnson, DE Deshaun Faltz, DT Demetic Lewis, DT Kahvorkian Walton, LB Chuck Sharon, LB Nicholas Kennedy, LB Kyon Croker, CB Bruce Cypress, CB Trevon Batten, S Marquis Childress and S Jamarie Wrenn.
1. Smithfield (5-0, 4-0 Bay Rivers District). The defense has carried the Pack so far, but there's plenty of skill talent as QB Jermaal Wells, RB/WR Marquis Childress and several others have shown. If the offense catches up, this team could win a regional title.
2. Lafayette (4-1, 3-1). The Rams outmuscled Grafton in the trenches in a 15-7 win on Saturday. That time honored tradition has them playoff bound again, despite heavy graduation losses from a year ago.
3. York (4-1, 3-1). All in all a good start for the defending district champs, who lost 13 key seniors and starting three freshmen. The Oct. 25 showdown with Lafayette could be for a regional playoff bye and home field should they meet in the semis.
4. Grafton (2-3, 2-2). Injuries, most notably to Harvard-bound Marcus Spearman and QB Jett Johnson (broken leg) have taken a toll. But a lack of offensive consistency, physicality and perhaps passion have hurt as well. That said, the Clippers are no more than five plays away from being 5-0.
5. Jamestown (2-3, 2-2). After losing three very close games in their first four outings, the Eagles hope the late drive that propelled them to a 13-9 win over Poquoson on Friday is a direction changer. Daivon Turner is the district rushing leader with 529 yards.
6. Warhill (3-2, 2-2). During the 2 1/2 games he's been healthy, the Lions' three wins, Devonte Dedmon has accounted for 833 rushing/passing/receiving yards, 10 TDs and five two-point conversions. Without him, the oft-injured, oft-defensively challenged Lions have been lost.
7. Tabb (2-3, 2-2). The Tigers have been sound defensively throughout. With the young offensive line helping capable backs Jake Brown and Brent Hinson more often now, are the Tigers a playoff contender?
8. Bruton (2-3, (1-3). Those 422 yards rushing in the 40-8 win over Warhill were a pleasant surprise. Prior to that, a young offensive line was making little headway for a unit that netted only 535 total yards in three district losses.
9. Poquoson (2-3, 1-3). The high-water mark (literally and figuratively) is a rain-soaked overtime upset of Grafton, which highlighted the Islanders' strength: a young, aggressive defense that allowed just 145 yards. Youth everywhere comes with growing pains, however.
10. New Kent (0-5, 0-4). QB Luke Mechling (884 yards passing) could surpass 1,000 this week. That's not nearly enough to overcome an inexperienced defense allowing 44 points and 454 yards per outing.
Smithfield is a lock in Division 4 and poised to be the No. 1 seed. Warhill and Jamestown are well-positioned to contend, but improving Tabb and talented Grafton should edge into the picture. Lafayette and York should make the Division 3 regional, with Poquoson and Bruton likely to make it four from the district.
Game of the year (so far)
Smithfield 34, Lafayette 27. This one would've been satisfying enough because of the intensity and physicality both teams displayed. But Smithfield's comeback from 15 points down late in the third quarter sparked by two spectacular TD runs by Marquis Childress, and the student celebration on the field afterward, makes it a BRD classic.
Game to watch
Friday | Smithfield vs. Grafton. A Smithfield win over the preseason favorite at Bailey Field cements its status as the team to beat in the Bay Rivers. A loss doesn't eliminate Grafton from playoff contention, but it exhausts the Clippers' supply of mulligans.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun