2016 in Review: Teams that Met Pre-Season Expectations

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By John Nolan
Virginia Assistant Director and Content Manager

As 2016 winds to a close, we will take a few looks back at the high school season, as well as look ahead to next year. Earlier this week, we took a way to early look at some of the most talented private schools for the upcoming 2017 season. Today we will look back at our inaugural Power 25 rankings from 2016 and see which teams performed in a way that we expected them to during the 2016 season. The next piece in this series will be a look at teams that significantly exceeded our pre-season expectations.

Liberty Christian Academy opened the year in the top spot after having held it for almost all of 2015. The Bulldogs made big news last year as the transitioned from VISAA Division I to VHSL, where they were added to a stacked 4A West Region. The Bulldogs won the 4A West and reached the 4A State Championship game before losing to Hanover in one of the most entertaining games played all spring. The Bulldogs’ only losses last spring were to Hanover and at the National High School Invitation hosted by USA Baseball.

St. John’s College Prep opened up in the third spot, and the Cadets had some ups and downs throughout the season as the WCAC proved to be very competitive this spring. Despite the talent throughout the conference, the Cadets were again able to capture the WCAC Championship for the third year in a row.

We ranked defending VISAA Division II State champion Greenbrier Christian fourth to start the season, and the Gators hovered near the top of the rankings all spring before repeating as Division II Champs. The Gators needed an epic comeback to win the championship game in walk-off fashion over a young Atlantic Shores Christian squad.

Hanover opened the season in the number five spot in our pre-season rankings, eventually working their way up to top spot. The Hawks had a loaded team and only lost one game all spring, during their spring break tournament. They won a classic against St. John’s in April and have the distinction of being the only Virginia team to beat Liberty Christian as a loaded Hanover senior class picked up its third State Championship in four years.

Nansemond River featured eight committed seniors last year and as a result were ranked number nine in our opening poll. The Warriors struggled early in the season as the pitching staff was decimated by injuries. As April turned to May, the Warriors got their arms back and benefited from the experience gained by their youngsters and Nansemond River rolled through the playoffs, winning the 5A South Region and the 5A State Championship.