Many thought 2011 state semifinalist Grafton would rule the 2012 Bay Rivers District football roost. "The Pack Is Back" was instead the theme of the season as Smithfield, 1-9 a year ago, went 9-1 in the regular season under new coach Clark Harrell to share the district title with Lafayette.

Smithfield won with a lightning-fast defense, while Lafayette rode a running game led by speedy junior Jahlil Green. Individually, Warhill junior Devonte Dedmon was a one-man explosion whether rushing, passing or receiving.

Here's a look back, and ahead:

5 MEMORABLE PLAYERS

Cody Hendrickson, OL/DL, York. The James Madison commitment did more than occupy blockers in the middle of the defensive line. He was such an unwavering presence in the opposition backfield, he was selected Region I Defensive Player of the Year.

Kyon Croker, LB/RB, Smithfield. Led the Packers in rushing and, with 70-plus jarring tackles, was voted the Bay Rivers' top defensive player. His greatest value was the swagger and charisma that inspired his teammates during the turnaround season.

Jesse Santiago, WR/CB, Grafton. Few Bay Rivers District receivers have been able to run the fade and go up to beat a defender to the ball like Santiago. Sure to sign a Division I scholarship, Santiago caught 28 passes for 382 yards and six touchdowns.

Parker Osterloh, OL/DL, Warhill. Virginia Tech is getting a versatile athlete in the 6-foot-8, 300-pound senior, who could catch passes at tight end, play center of offensive tackle, rush the edge at end or play inside on the defensive line.

Peter Hurst, OL/LB, Lafayette. With more than 30 knockdown blocks and a team-high 80-plus tackles, Hurst, like linemate Carlos Coronado, epitomized the physical style annually at the heart of Lafayette football success. He plays nine musical instruments in his spare time.

5 MEMORABLE GAMES

Smithfield 34, Lafayette 27. Behind by 15 points late in the third quarter, the Packers rallied to win behind two spectacular long touchdown runs by Marquis Childress. Hundreds of Smithfield students stormed the field in celebration, setting off a football frenzy in the town for the rest of the season.

Courtland 18, Smithfield 15. A blown call late in the hard-hitting, competitive regional championship game possibly cost Smithfield its first state semifinal berth. Video and photos appear to show that Packers QB Jermaal Wells ran for the go-ahead touchdown, but the official ruled a fumble and Courtland recovery.

Poquoson 21, Grafton 20 (OT). Even in a massive rebuilding year, the Islanders again would not yield to Bay Rivers favorite Grafton in the district's fiercest rivalry. Chris Edwards blocked Grafton's extra point in overtime, before Michael Roy kicked the winning PAT following Johnny Pryce's TD pass to Reece Thornburg.

Lafayette 37, Tabb 33. Until the final six minutes, the game was a showcase for Tabb's improvement. But, led by Jahlil Green's 176 yards rushing, the Rams rallied from 10 points behind, disdaining a game-tying field goal in the final seconds to win on Schekel Wallace's 5-yard TD run.

Tabb 34, Grafton 28 (3 OT). Mason Askew's block of a Grafton field goal try moved the game into a third overtime, where Tabb teammate Dallas Jansen's pass breakup led to another unsuccessful Clippers FG attempt. Brent Hinson's 3-yard touchdown run clinched Tabb's biggest win in years.

5 PLAYERS TO WATCH IN 2013

Devonte Dedmon, Athlete, Warhill. Quick, fast and fun to watch, he surged for more than 2,000 total yards, 24 TDs and 14 2-point conversions in the equivalent of eight games.

Jahlil Green, RB/CB, Lafayette. The speed demon ran for 1,546 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2012, and he is a good enough cover corner to draw Division I interest.

Marcus Wakelyn, RB/LB, York. With more than 300 stops the past two seasons, the 5-8, 175-pound junior is a tackling machine who should lead another good York defense next year.

Jermaal Wells, QB, Smithfield. The sophomore has some growing up to do on and off the field, but has the size and physical tools to woo Division I recruits if he does.

Brent Hinson, RB, Tabb. A nice combination of quickness and power, he ran for 1,083 yards and 12 TDs as a sophomore.

5 QUESTIONS GOING INTO 2013

Who's the 2013 favorite? Lafayette's offensive cupboard should again be full with the return of a great running back (Green), terrific receiver (Brandon Villanueva-Pernell), bruising fullback (Schekel Wallace), experienced QB (Brendan McGinty) and physical line.

Will Smithfield stay near the top? Probably. A bunch of key senior-class losses include all-district linebackers Croker and Chuck Sharon. But the varsity and unbeaten JV include plenty of fast, athletic players who fit Harrell's system.

What about York? An 11-win district champ in 2011 and a nine-win playoff semifinalist in 2012, the Falcons return skill talent in abundance but must replace big line losses to maintain.

Which programs are on the rise? Look for Tabb and Poquoson, led by Division I recruit Grayson Boyce, to improve on their 4-6 records, and for Warhill to post a third consecutive winning season.

What's the playoff outlook amid reclassification? With Phoebus, Lake Taylor and Dinwiddie now among the competition for Smithfield, Tabb and Grafton in the 4A South Region, good luck. Lafayette's path in 3A is slightly more reasonable.