After years in the wilderness in the late stages of the football state playoffs, Bay Rivers District football got a little spoiled.

Bruton came within a whisker of winning the 2009 Division 3 state final. Poquoson succeeded in 2010 where Bruton had failed, making the big plays down the stretch to edge Richlands for the Division 3 state championship.

So 2011 proved to be a glass of cold water, as James Monroe easily dispatched the district's top two teams – Lafayette and York – en route to the D-3 regional title, before Division 4 state champ Briar Woods rolled over Region I champion Grafton in the state semifinals.

District state title hopes probably rest again on Grafton overcoming Briar Woods, but four or five others are likely to join the Clippers in the playoffs.

LOCK

GRAFTON

Strengths: Solid defense and dynamic skill players with FCS offers: DB/RB Marcus Spearman and WR/DB Jesse Santiago.

Weaknesses: Minus all-state DE Dylan Stallings, a dominant defender must emerge.

Key stretch: Opener on the road at state power Powhatan, followed by a home game against nemesis Poquoson.

Best-Case Scenario: Enough improvement to give Briar Woods a battle in state semis.

Worst-Case Scenario: Anything less than a regional championship repeat will be considered a missed opportunity.

LIKELY

LAFAYETTE

Strengths: Experience defense and perennially strong offense line.

Weaknesses: Lost six players who occupied eight spots on All-Region I team.

Key stretch: Beating York and Poquoson to end the regular season would clinch a nice playoff seed.

Best-Case Scenario: Berth in Region I Division 3 final and more respectable showing against James Monroe.

Worst-Case Scenario: Lack of firepower prevents Rams from becoming district/regional contender.

YORK