Year in Review: West Springfield is 2018 High School Varsity Team of the Year


December 30 - West Springfield High School has been named the magazine’s 2018 High School Varsity Team of the Year after winning the program’s fourth state championship.

The 2018 Teams of the Year are sponsored by Pitchers Edge in Vienna.

Coached by Jason Olms, the Spartans knocked off Patriot District rival Lake Braddock in the Region 6C final and again in the Class 6 state semifinals before upending defending champion Western Branch, 12-2, in the state final. West Springfield finished the season 24-5, ranked No. 1 in the Northern Virginia Top 10 Poll, and matched Madison for the most state titles among Northern Virginia public schools.

This year’s other nominees included: Freedom-South Riding, which won the Potomac District and Region 5C championships and advanced to the Class 5 state semifinals; Highland School, which won the Delaney Athletic Conference title and advanced to the VISAA Division II state semifinals; Lake Braddock, which won the Patriot District championship and advanced to the Class 6 state semifinals; Potomac, which won the Region 5D title and advanced to the Class 5 state final; and Spotsylvania, which won the Class 3 state championship.

In the sixth story in our Year in Review series, the magazine summarizes each of the nominees for our High School Varsity Team of the Year:

Team: West Springfield High School
League: Patriot District (VHSL Class 6)
Head Coach: Jason Olms
Assistant Coaches: Buddy Claggett, Joey Tinsley, Charlie Morgan, Jeremy Schutt, Marcus Johnson, Greg Delaney
Record: 24-5 overall
Team Summary: The Spartans won 14 of their last 16 games, including seven straight to finish the season and win the Region 6C and Class 6 state championships, doing so behind the first-team all-state senior tandem of Jared Lyons and Calvin Pastel. They finished No. 1 in the final Northern Virginia Top 10 Poll after matching Madison’s four state titles for the most among area public schools. Lyons hit .459 wit two home runs and 22 RBI and was 6-2 with a 1.18 ERA while Pastel hit .415 with two homers and 33 RBI and was 7-1 with a 2.04 ERA. Lyons hit a grand slam and struck out 10 to earn the win in the 12-2 state final win over Western Branch. Senior outfielder Rob Cable, senior shortstop Brett Stallings and junior catcher David Giorgis each earned second-team all-district honors.

Team: Freedom High School (South Riding)
League: Potomac District (VHSL Class 5)
Head Coach: Mark Wrighte
Assistant Coaches: Glenn Caroline, Matt Markosky, Nelson Santiago, Kevin Mawyer
Record: 22-5 overall
Team Summary: The Eagles opened their season with six consecutive victories, then won 12 straight en route to the Potomac District and Region 5C championships before falling to Potomac in the Class 5 state semifinals. They finished No. 6 in the final Northern Virginia Top 10 Poll. The team swiped 103 bases and saw its pitching staff compile a 2.10 ERA behind senior Michel Stopper, who had a team-high seven wins, and senior Jonathan Fisher, who led the staff in strikeouts (58) and ERA (0.86). Senior outfielder Kyle Schofield emerged as the team’s best offensive player, hitting .420 with 30 RBI, while senior catcher/outfielder Jack FitzGerald slammed a team-high five home runs and senior outfielder Will Schroeder earned first-team all-state honors.

Team: Highland School
League: Delaney Athletic Conference (VISAA Division II)
Head Coach: Micah Higgins
Assistant Coaches: Walt Gerring, Lloyd Gimbel, Fred Duquette
Record: 21-4 overall
Team Summary: For a third consecutive year, the Hawks eclipsed the 20-win plateau and reached the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association (VISAA) Division II state tournament, advancing to the semifinals for a second straight spring. They won the Delaney Athletic Conference title for the fourth time in five years, and won eight straight games before their 2-0 state semifinal loss to Steward School. Three players earned first-team all-state honors, including sophomore Blake Fisher (.404, 9 2B, 8 3B, 30 RBI, 4-2, 2 SV, 1.05 ERA), junior Luke Burner (.471, 30 RBI, 4-1, 1.89 ERA) and junior Matt Michel (9-1, 0.70 ERA, 68 K, 49.2 IP).

Team: Lake Braddock Secondary School
League: Patriot District (VHSL Class 6)
Head Coach: Jody Rutherford
Assistant Coaches: Bill Askin, Dan Griel, Brent Hitz, John Thomas
Record: 21-5 overall
Team Summary: In what would be longtime coach Jody Rutherford’s final season, the Bruins won the Patriot District championship and advanced to the Region 6C final and Class 6 state semifinals before falling to eventual champion West Springfield. They did not lose to a team from Virginia during the regular season, won 12 straight before their loss to the Spartans in the region final, and finished No. 2 in the final Northern Virginia Top 10 Poll. Had four players earn all-state honors, including state Player of the Year and NOVA Nine Team selection Matt Thomas, who hit a Northern Virginia-best .532 with a .618 on-base percentage, three home runs and 25 RBI. Rojo Prarie, who went 7-0 with a 1.84 ERA, two saves and 70 strikeouts in 49.1 innings, anchored the pitching staff and earned second-team all-state honors, as did senior first baseman Jack Darcy and junior two-way standout Lyle Miller-Green.

Team: Potomac High School
League: Cardinal District (VHSL Class 5)
Head Coach: Mike Covington
Assistant Coaches: Dan Raley, Pat Tierno, Rex Thomas
Record: 22-5 overall
Team Summary: The Panthers captured their first region championship since 1993, beating defending state champion Briar Woods for the Region 5D title, then advanced to the Class 5 state final before falling to Prince George. They had three winning streaks of at least five games and finished No. 3 in the final Northern Virginia Top 10 Poll. Junior two-way standout Brody Mack, a member of the NOVA Nine Team, led the way by winning an area-high 11 games and compiling a 1.21 ERA in 81 innings and hitting .462 with 36 RBI en route to first-team all-state honors. Also earning a first-team all-state nod was senior outfielder T.J. Reney, who hit .459 with 24 RBI and 20 steals, while junior third baseman Julian Cumba earned a second-team selection.

Team: Spotsylvania High School
League: Battlefield District (VHSL Class 3)
Head Coach: Travis Payne
Assistant Coaches: John Snyder
Record: 21-5 overall
Team Summary: The Knights had strung together winning streaks of six and eight earlier in the season, but it was the three straight they won after dropping the Region 3C final to Brentsville District that led to the first state championship in program history. In the state final against Abingdon, they overcame an 8-5 deficit, rallying to tie the game and send it into extra innings before scoring five in the top of the eighth in a 13-8 win that capped a magical season and boosted them to the No. 4 ranking in the final Northern Virginia Top 10 Poll. Senior first baseman Max Harper was named the state’s Player of the Year after hitting .446 with five home runs and 24 RBI. Also earning first-team all-state honors were senior outfielder Jonathan Rivard and senior pitcher Eugene Snyder, while junior shortstop Trevor Croson was a second-team selection.

Photo of West Springfield’s Jared Lyons by Fred Ingham