The Bay Rivers District begins its 21st football season on Friday, when five teams kick off 2010 against non-conference opponents. Before moving on to the next 20 years of district football, let's take a look back at 20 great players from the district's first 20 years.
Are they the greatest 20? We're not sure anyone could come up with a perfect list, but we think we've come close.
Terry Kirby and Chris Slade, who had lengthy NFL careers, but played before the kickoff of the Bay Rivers, are not included.
Nor are Tabb linemen Brad Barnes and Dustin Keith, stars indeed, but guys whose best seasons came during the Tigers' two-season move in 1994-95 to the Peninsula District.
Whether you've followed the district for 20 years, or just began last year, you'll probably see a name or two you recognize.
Pervis Binns: (Southampton, RB/KR, 1996-99): He stood only 5-foot-9, but put his 4.4-40 speed to good use, returning four kickoffs for TDs of 80 or more yards as a senior. He also ran for 2,085 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior, leading the Indians to a regional title, then played at James Madison.
Charles Brown-Rich (York, RB, 2001-03): Brown-Rich was the most statistically prolific of many great York running backs, rushing for 2,062 yards and 25 touchdowns on the 2003 regional runnerup team. A standout sprinter, Brown-Rich attended Florida to run track and earned a walk-on roster spot with the Gators' football team.
Ben Edwards (QB/WR/DB (2006-09): His memorable junior season included that seven-touchdown game in comeback win over Tabb. Quick and dynamic, he scored his 17 touchdowns in six different ways as a junior, leading the Falcons to numerous last-second victories and more cardiac wins as an oft-injured senior. Is now a wide receiver at Richmond.
Percy Ellsworth (Southampton, RB/DB, 1990-91): One of the most athletic players in district history, he ran for more than 1,000 yards as a 6-foot-3, 190-pound senior, was selected the regional defensive Player of the Year, played at Virginia, then spent six seasons at DB in the NFL with the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns.
Brian Ginn (York, QB, 1992-94): Ginn threw for more than 1,000 yards each of his three seasons at York, many of those yards from the run-oriented Wing-T. That Wing-T experience came in handy at Delaware, where he threw for almost 3,000 yards and 22 TDs. Is now in his 11th season as Delaware assistant.
Melvin Griffin (Tabb OL/DE, 1990): First-team all-district and all-region on both sides of the football on Tabb's 1990 state championship team, Griffin, 6-1, 240-pounds, was everything you'd want in a lineman: tough, strong, intelligent and a great technician. Started in college on William and Mary's defensive line.
Will Hill (Lafayette DL/OL, 2005-08): Hard work paid off his final two seasons, as Hill destroyed opposing offensive tackles. He totaled more than 150 tackles as a junior and senior, earning regional Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2008, when he had 14 sacks. Currently vying for a starting defensive line spot at U.Va.
Connor Hughes (Lafayette, PK/QB, 1998-2001): The Daily Press 2002 Male Athlete of the Year set national and state career records as a place kicker. Amazingly, he led the Rams to a state title in 2001 as a QB, the only season he ever played a field position. Was twice named an All-American kicking for U.Va.
George Jones (New Kent, RB/DB/KR, 1999-2002): Small, 5-9, 170 pounds, but versatile, he returned four punts for TDs as a junior, then ran for more than 100 yards 12 times while scoring 24 TDs as a senior for the Trojans state finalists. Also starred at defensive back. Was a standout running back at Christopher Newport.
Ross Pinkett (Lafayette, DL, 1999-2002): Brushed aside double-team blocking en route to first team all-state honors his final two seasons. Had 17 sacks among 29 tackles for loss for Lafayette's 2001 state champions, and was selected the Daily Press's top defensive player in leading the Rams to the state finals in 2002, when he had 20 more sacks.
David Poutier (Grafton, QB/DB 2002-05): Getting named all-state first team at defensive back underscores the athleticism of this district quarterbacking great. He threw for a total of 2,387 yards and 33 TDs, as a junior and senior, while also rushing for 1,435 yards and 20 scores. Recently completed his senior season of baseball at Maryland.
Bryan Randall (Bruton, QB/DB, 1997-2000): Reckoned by many as the greatest player in district history, he twice ran and passed for more than 1,000 yards in a season. The 2000 Gatorade State Player of the Year was also a fierce hitter in the secondary. Earned ACC Offensive Player of the Year honors at Virginia Tech.
Dyrell Roberts (Smithfield RB/DB, 2004-07): One of the great big-play game-breakers in district annals, Roberts ran for 2,236 yards and scored 38 touchdowns in 10 games as a senior: making him one of only four in the area to eclipse 2,000 in a regular season. Is a junior wide receiver at Virginia Tech.
Phillip Thaxton (Grafton, RB 2003-2006): A rare area player to run for more than 2,000 yards during a regular season, Thaxton totaled 2,058 rushing yards and 35 TDs in 10 games as a senior. He powered for 1,109 yards and had 369 receiving yards his junior season. Is entering his senior season as a running back at Delaware.
Rian Thompson (Lafayette, RB, 1997-98): Was the headliner on the Lafayette juggernaut that rolled all the way to the 1998 state finals. Powerful with a burst, Thompson rushed for 2,089 yards and 28 touchdowns. Went on to a solid career at Hampton University, leading the Pirates with 12 rushing touchdowns one season.
Simeon Tucker (Tabb, RB, 1990-91): The 6-1, 186-pound almost-impossible-to-tackle combination of speed and power, rushed for more than 2,000 yards as a junior and senior. Starred for the Tigers 1990 state championship team as a junior and was selected Daily Press Player of the Year as a senior. Played in junior college after high school.
Greg Scott (Southampton, DE/TE, 1994-97): Size, 6-4, 215 pounds, and mobility made him one of the most fearsome tacklers in district history. Selected Region I Defensive Player of the Year and all-state tight end as a senior. A Black College All-American at Hampton University, he played for Washington and Cincinnati in the NFL.
Brendan Summers (Lafayette, DE, 1998-2001): Summers' non-stop motor got him to the football constantly. He had 218 often bone-jarring tackles his final two seasons, which included 35 sacks among his 64 tackles for loss. After helping Lafayette win the'01 state title, he played at James Madison.
Donald Turner (Nansemond River, DB/RB, 1991-94): Though only 5-8, 174 pounds, he was of the district's greatest cornerbacks. One of his area-high nine interceptions clinched the 1994 regional championship win over York. Turner went on to become a two-time Black College All-American at Hampton University, then played for a year in the Canadian Football League.
Josh Zidenberg (Poquoson, RB/DB, 2000-03): Powerful and fast, Zidenberg put up mind-boggling numbers his final two seasons, rushing for a total of 4,158 yards and 57 touchdowns: 2,704 and 38 as a senior. An interesting post-high school career included special teams Player of the Year honors at U.Va. and a stint scouting for the Miami Dolphins.
For a list of others we considered for a spot in the Terrific 20, check out the Inside the Bay Rivers District blog during the coming week.
Bay Rivers District football: 20 years, 20 great players
Bryan Randall played at Bruton, then starred at Virginia Tech.