These are the best of times for Bay Rivers District baseball and boys soccer. The past four years have seen Poquoson win two Group AA baseball state titles and Jamestown's soccer team another.
But the district's success doesn't stop there. The Bay Rivers has produced four semifinalists in both sports during the four year span, as well as three state players of the year: Poquoson's Kyle Crockett twice in baseball and Jamestown's Patrick O'Brien in soccer.
The district's baseball representation surpasses its previous all-star-game record of four in 1994, while the soccer representation is easily a district high. The East's soccer roster for the game at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday at Christopher Newport University includes Grafton's Jalon Brown, Tabb's Sean Christein and Eric Swenson, Lafayette's Justen Silva and Kendal Pressey, and Jamestown's Patrick O'Brien and Trevor Davis.
"This speaks volumes about how difficult the district is," Lafayette coach Brian Sorrell said. "I don't think you'll find another AA district where any of the top six teams could get first place."
Similarly, state semifinalist York was the district's best baseball team, but lost to eighth-place New Kent and was fortunate to avoid an upset at home to ninth-place Lafayette. The Falcons' Nic Futrell is listed on the East's baseball roster for the game, set for 7 p.m. on Wednesday at War Memorial Stadium, along with Poquoson's Tee McConnell and Chad Funkhouser, Jamestown's Tommy Vitaletti, Smithfield's Kevin Griffey and Tabb's Jared Lyons (who reportedly will miss the game because he's started college).
"The Bay Rivers isn't just competitive in baseball, it's competitive across the board in almost every sport," York coach Rusty Ingram said. "When you have to play strong competition every night, it makes you better."
Ingram thinks that because Bay Rivers players often compete in several sports, rather than specializing in just baseball, it makes them hungrier and more competitive players come baseball season. Vitaletti (track), McConnell (basketball, football), Griffey (football) and Tabb's Patrick Corbett (football and basketball) — picked as an alternate for the all-star game — all are standouts in other sports.
With the exception of Patrick O'Brien, a former AA state soccer Player of the Year who also starts in basketball, most of the soccer all-stars specialize in that sport. They play together for the Virginia Legacy club team.
"They're playing against the top competition in the state and region (for the Legacy), and bring back that experience to the district," said Jamestown and Legacy coach Bobby O'Brien, who will help coach the East team. "The Bay Rivers and the Hampton Roads area have good year-round soccer, and that makes them better when they play for their schools."
Sorrell said the quality of the district's seven players in the all-star game should give the East a good shot at winning on Wednesday.
"The two kids from Jamestown (O'Brien and Davis) have shown how good they were all season," he said. "O'Brien doesn't have to score the perfect goal, but he is relentless on balls in front of goal. And Davis can put a free kick where he wants it like nobody in the district.
"Everybody knows about Jalon Brown's left foot, but they can't stop him anyway. Sean Christein was phenomenal, and with Eric Swenson there it's easy to see why Tabb went as far as they did (the semifinals) in the state tournament.
"Justen Silva is a tactician, who sees the whole field and knows how to get the ball to people in a way they can be successful. Kendal Pressey's aggressiveness and command is exactly what you need in a defender."
Poquoson's Ken Bennett, who will help coach the East baseball team, feels similarly lucky to have plenty more Bay Rivers talent at his disposal than ever before in a VHSCA All-Star game.
"Nic Futrell (.505 avg, 40 RBI, eight home runs) just had a tremendous year and (Old Dominion-bound) Griffey is a tremendous talent," Bennett said. "Our two guys (Funkhouser and McConnell) did a great job for us in the field and at the plate the past two seasons.
"Vitaletti (.506 avg., 34 hits, 25-27 stolen bases) is a great athlete who had a great postseason. This many players in the all-star game shows the Bay Rivers District is getting a lot of respect around the state."
VHSCA ALL-STAR GAMES SCHEDULES
(Local roster selections in parenthesis)