757Teamz top moments from the 2022 high school football season

There were tremendous turnarounds, fabulous finishes and — as there always seems to be — a 757 state champion when all was said and done.

Here are the moments we’ll remember most from the 2022 high school football season:

10. Road Warriors

Nansemond River hit the road for all 10 regular-season games as the turf was replaced at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Warriors played homecoming and Senior Night games at King’s Fork and then played two road playoff games, finishing the season 8-4.


9. Comets’ conundrum

Granby’s anemic numbers led to a long season: The Comets forfeited a game against Western Branch and finished 0-9 overall and 0-7 in the Eastern District.

Granby endured six shutout losses, and at the end of the season, coach Larry Archie — who finished the season with just 26 players on his roster — was fired.


8. All-American honors

Maury running back Peyton Jones and Lake Taylor defensive lineman Anthony Britton were selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

Jones, who signed with Duke, was the Eastern District Offensive Player of the Year and rushed for more than 1,100 yards; Britton, who signed with Virginia, was the Eastern District Defensive Player of the Year and led Hampton Roads with 22 regular-season sacks.


7. Surprising turnarounds

Grafton and Bruton were doormats no more. Bruton was 0-12 (and outscored 626-53) during the previous two seasons, but second-year coach Barrington Morrison had a 60-player roster that included star running back Trey Corbin, who ran for 270 yards, and Emily Tassara, a 5-foot-7, 140 pound dynamo who played offense, defense and special teams. The Panthers finished 5-6 after a first-round Class 2 playoff loss.

Grafton, meanwhile, was 3-41 during the previous five seasons, but co-head coaches Max Bolton and Creighton Incorminias guided the Clippers to four wins in the final five weeks to qualify for the playoffs. The Clippers finished 6-5.


6. Making his mark

Talk about a good first impression: QB Kevin White transferred to Green Run from Menchville this season and proceeded to shatter the South Hampton Roads single-season record for passing touchdowns.

White, the Beach District Offensive Player of the Year and Class 5 Region A Offensive Player of the Year, threw for more than 3,400 yards and 49 touchdowns, with only four interceptions. He also rushed for more than 1,000 yards and 13 TDs.

Green Run was unbeaten during the regular season for a second straight year before falling to Maury in a state semifinal.


5. Resurgent Raiders

Warwick was coming off a six-win season and fifth playoff appearance in six years, but it turned out the Raiders were just getting started.

Warwick put together its best season in school history, finishing the regular season 9-1, winning the Class 4 Region A championship — its first region crown in more than 30 years — and reaching the state semifinals.

Coach Corey Hairston, in his ninth season, had a mix of youth and experience and led the Raiders to a 12-2 record.


4. Signing day

There were few surprises as the early signing period arrived in December.

Nearly all of the players ranked among the top 10 in The Pilot and Daily Press rankings for the Class of 2023 already had committed, and no one wavered.

No. 1 recruit Paul Billups Jr. of Western Branch signed with North Carolina, while four players — Maury’s Peyton Jones, Bayside’s Leon Griffin III, Kempsville’s Quran Boyd and Kecoughtan’s David Anderson — signed with ACC rival Duke. Brandyn Hillman, Churchland’s versatile quarterback, become just the third South Hampton Roads player since 2002 to sign with Notre Dame.


3. Tigers fall, Bruins rise

The Oscar Smith dominance in the region finally ended.

First, the Tigers escaped with a 2-0 victory over Western Branch to win another Southeastern District title. But that was followed by a shockingly lopsided 56-0 loss to Phoebus and a 28-14 loss to Western Branch in the region semifinals.

Western Branch, after its first win over Oscar Smith since 2003, went on to win its first region title in 20 years, while the Tigers missed the region championship game for the first time since 2004.


2. State semis or bust

Six area teams made trips to the state semifinals: Western Branch (Class 6), Green Run (Class 5), Maury (Class 5), Warwick (Class 4), Phoebus (Class 3) and Poquoson (Class 2); Maury defeated Green Run in a Class 5 semifinal before losing in the state championship game for the second straight season.

That left one team alone at the top at the end ...


1. Fantastic Phantoms

Everything about Phoebus’ season was emphatic: the 10-0 regular-season run through the Peninsula District without allowing more than seven points in a game; the 56-0 drubbing of South Hampton Roads heavyweight Oscar Smith; the 42-16 win over Lake Taylor in the Region A final; and finally, the 48-7 beatdown of Heritage, of Lynchburg, in the Class 3 title game.

Coach Jeremy Blunt led the Phantoms to a second straight state title and ninth crown overall.

And what’s a little adversity? Phoebus played the state championship game without injured starting quarterback Nolan James. His replacement, Jayden Earley, threw for 212 yards and three touchdowns — in the first half. Jordan Bass, the 2022 Abe Goldblatt All-Tidewater Player of the Year, hauled in touchdown passes of 82 and 75 yards in the first quarter.

All that helped the Phantoms put the finishing touches on an unforgettable season.

Jami Frankenberry, 757-446-2376, jami.frankenberry@pilotonline.com