2022 VHSL Preview: Class 1


John Nolan
VA/DC Managing Editor, NOVA Scouting Coordinator



As the season approaches, we will go around the Commonwealth and DC and preview the action to come this spring, our first full season since 2019. In each preview, we will breakdown how teams qualify for the Region Tournaments, the Top Prospects in each Region, and Teams to Watch.

2021 saw Auburn defeat Essex to capture the Class 1 State Championship. Essex was the Region 1A Champion, Riverheads won Region 1B, Auburn 1C, and Chilhowie was the 1D Champ. Hat tips go out to Rappahannock, Central (Lunenberg), Grayson County, and Eastside, who were Region Runners-up and in a normal year would have earned a State Tournament berth. 

Each Region sets their tournaments up slightly differently. 1A uses power points to seed an eight-team tournament. 1B also uses power points but has a six-team Regional. 1C is an eight-team tournament that is made up of the top four finishers from the Pioneer District and Mountain Empire District. 1D also uses District finish to fill out a pre-seeded nine-team tournament, with the Hogheegee District, Black Diamond District, and Cumberland District each getting three berths in the tournament. 

TOP PROSPECTS

Name High School Position Year Commitment
Ryan Allard Central (Luinenberg) RHP/1B 2024  
Colton Allen William Campbell RHP/SS 2022 Ferrum
Seth Buchanan Lebanon SS/RHP 2023  
Wyatt Bunch Rappahannock RHP/OF 2022 Longwood
Micah Canterbury Buffalo Gap C 2023  
Jackson Ingram Buffalo Gap SS 2024  
Tyler Mason William Campbell SS/RHP 2023  
Evan Meier West Point OF/RHP 2023 Mt. St. Mary's
Aidan Miller Riverheads MIF 2022 Eastern Mennonite
Andrew Shaffner Grayson County OF/RHP 2022 NC State
 Gavin Stone Essex LHP 2022  Ferrum 

 

 

TEAMS TO WATCH

 

1A

Essex
The defending Region Champs and State Runners-up lose Holden Ambrose (Bridgewater) and Tahraun Hammond to graduation but bring back Gavin Stone (Ferrum) and Tyler Clark from the top portion of their lineup. Stone should top the rotation with Ambrose's departure as the Trojans look to again ride strong pitching and defense back to the State Tournament. 2023 Kamren Robinson was also a factor in the middle of the lineup and could have a breakout season this spring.

Mathews
The Blue Devils ran into Essex in the 2021 Region semifinals, coming up short against the Trojans after a strong season until that point. Top arm Daniel Moughon and middle of the lineup presence Dawson Adams should be back for their senior seasons this spring as Mathews looks to return to the State Tournament.

Rappahannock
The Raiders were a dominant 11-1 in 2021 heading into the Region Championship game before falling to Essex, a team that had beaten twice earlier in the season. The Raiders are poised to make a run again in 2022 and make a State Tournament trip this year. Senior Wyatt Bunch (Longwood) is back to top the rotation and anchor a lineup that returns fellow seniors Caleb Turner and Ethan Beck as well as junior Slade Keyser. Look for Turner and Keyser to also round out the rotation behind Bunch.

 

 

1B

Central (Lunenberg)
The Chargers were an offensive machine in 2021 and while they lose All-Region Seth Hall to graduation, the Chargers bring the bulk of that lineup back. Sophomore Ryan Allard should top the rotation and be the centerpiece of the lineup that will again be flanked by Ben CurrinEthan CurrinHunter Word, and Odarius Green as well as others. Look for the Chargers to again be in the mix deep in the season.

Riverheads
The Gladiators had their typical regular season in 2021, not posting the best overall record as the small school in a District made up of Class 2 and Class 3 schools, and then rolling to the Region Championship in the playoffs before falling to Essex in the State Semifinals. Back this spring for Riverheads are their top arm in senior Colton Kniewcinski as well as key senior bats Landon Lightner and Aidan Miller (Eastern Mennonite)

William Campbell
The Generals also play in a District made up of larger schools but had a solid 2021 season. Gone to graduation are Randy Crabtree (Bridgewater) and Sloan Seals, who formed the middle of the Generals lineup last year. They do get some other key pieces back in 2022 Colton Allen (Ferrum) and 2023 Tyler Mason, both of whom contribute in the lineup and on the mound.

 

 

1C

Auburn
The 2021 and 2019 State Champs were dominant defensively and on the mound down the stretch, allowing 2 runs or less in every one of their last 11 games and tossing three shutouts in their final five games. Reed Underwood (SWCC) was dominant down the stretch and in both State Tournament games for the Eagles. Underwood has graduated and his work on the mound will need to be replaced this spring. Also gone are key bats Carter Keith and Parker HaleAJ Reece and Tyler Sparrer do return to the middle of the lineup this spring as the Eagles look to return to the State Tournament and Three-Peat.

Fort Chiswell
The Pioneers are a team that year in and year out is a threat to make a deep postseason run and 2021 was on track to be another year that followed pattern until they ran into Auburn in the Region Tournament. Despite having split with the Eagles during the regular season Fort Chiswell was shut down to bring their 2021 to and end. Tops arm Landon McClure (Louisburg CC) and Dylan Bailey have graduated as has leadoff hitter Isaac Dunford

Grayson County
The Blue Devils had a stellar 2021 and would have been a State Tournament team in most years, but a loss in the Region Championship game to eventual State Champ Auburn ended their season. Top arm Cal Campbell (UVA Wise) has graduated, but 2022 two-way player and Player of the Year contender Andrew Shaffner (NC State) is back for one more season. Also back in the lineup for Grayson will be junior Caleb Cheeks and senior Daniel Shearin. Look for the Blue Devils to again be a factor in June and challenge for a State Tournament berth. 

 

 

1D

Chilhowie
The Warriors are the defending Region Champs and fell in the 2021 State Semis to Auburn. Back this spring for Chilhowie is their top arm from last spring, senior righthander Daniel Hutton. Hutton will also anchor the middle of the lineup which will be topped by fellow senior DJ Martin this spring.

Eastside
The Spartans would have made a State Tournament trip last spring with a normal playoff format and they will lose some contributors, including Isaiah Sexton and Will Stansberry, to graduation. Look for Eastside to again be in the mix with a lineup that will feature senior catcher Blake Jones and a rotation that again returns junior Jaxsyn Collins.

Honaker
The Tigers had a solid 2021 season and reached the Region Semifinals. They lost Dylan Barrett to graduation but bring back the bulk of a strong core for the 2022 season. The rotation will be topped by senior Alex Barton. Back in the lineup with Barton will be seniors Jayson Mullins, Ethan Compton, TJ Hubbard, Evan Justus, and Wes Yates.

Lebanon
Moving down into Class 1 this spring are the 2021 VHSL Class 2 State Champs. The Pioneers finished the 2021 campaign unbeaten and do lose their two best players, Matthew Buchanan (Virginia) and Preston Steele, to graduation as they slide down to Class 1. Also gone to graduation are Hunter Hertig and Anthony Houchins, but look for Lebanon to rebuild as the team centers around juniors Seth Buchanan and Zach Hertig