by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi
The Virginia High School League released its 2019 Class 1 all-state football teams before the holiday break and as anticipated, the state’s top two teams took the top honors.
Riverheads High School, Staunton, which went unbeaten as the state champion, placed five on the offensive first team and three on the defensive first team. Additionally, Riverheads’ junior running back Zac Smiley was selected as the Class 1 offensive player of the year and Robert Casto was named the coach of the year after leading the Gladiators to a 15-0 record and a fourth straight state title with a 31-24 win over The Maroon Tide of Galax High School, Galax, in the championship. Smiley also earned first-team selection at linebacker.
Galax senior defensive end Lee Peoples was selected the Class 1 defensive player of the year. The Maroon Tide finished the season at 12-2 as the state runner-up and filled two first team offensive spots and two on the first team defense. Galax also named four to the second teams.
Thirty-two players each were chosen to all-state first and second teams. Each all-state selection committee is comprised of eight football coaches, including two from each region.
The Northern Neck District’s Essex High School, which finished 12-2 as a state semifinalist, lost in the playoffs to eventual champion Riverheads. The Trojans placed four on the defensive first team including senior lineman Keyshan Holmes, junior linebacker Tehran Hammond, senior defensive back Avante Banks and senior punter returner Takeyo Day.
Rappahannock High School, which lost in the Region A final to Essex, named senior lineman Delonta Butler and senior receiver Tyler West to the all-state offensive first team and placed three on the second teams including junior quarterback KJ Gaines, senior offensive lineman Marveon Newton. Butler was also named to the second team as a defensive lineman.
Washington & Lee High School named one to the all-state second team offense in senior kick returner Craig Shepherd and Colonial Beach High School’s defensive back Randall Annino made second team state honors as a freshman.
Tidewater District’s West Point High School and King & Queen High School filled two second team selections in the Pointers’ senior defensive end Brayden Shaffer and the Tigers’ senior receiver D’Andre Hill.
Other Region A players named to the all-state second teams included Sussex Central High School’s senior running back Imir Clark and junior defensive all-purpose player Jaquan Jones.