Those who know such things described the late Colton Poythress’ talent as immense, whether playing football, baseball or maneuvering on the basketball court.
“He had more athletic ability for someone his age I’ve ever seen in my entire life, and he was a natural leader,” said family friend Billy Bayne, an owner of the Crystal City Sports Pub in Arlington. “He could have been a pro athlete.”
Washington-Liberty High School head football coach Josh Shapiro said his team would design special defensive plays to stop Poythress when he was Wakefield High’s starting quarterback, but they didn’t always work.
“He was a fierce competitor and a very good high-school quarterback, who would drive us crazy trying to stop him,” Shapiro said. “He helped bring winning and pride to the Wakefield football program.”
Poythress, a 2018 Wakefield graduate, died unexpectedly on Aug. 12. He was 20. While suicide was ruled out, according to Poythress’ stepfather Todd Yeatts, a final determination on the cause of death remains pending.
“It’s one of the saddest things I have seen,” Bayne said. “I saw him just hours earlier and he was fine. It’s a tremendous loss to his family and the community.”
Bayne held a celebration of life that attracted many and lined the streets at his pub for Poythress and his family. It began when former and current Wakefield football players gathered near the family home, then walked to the pub.
“This is a very tragic thing to come to grips with and we won’t ever get over this,” Yeatts said. “But we are a strong family and we hope the scars of our emotions will ease over time.”
Yeatts said he and Colton’s mother, Cindy, want to thank the community for what he said has been an “incredible outpouring.”
Poythress was Wakefield’s starting quarterback for three seasons, including his sophomore campaign, when he helped lead the Warriors to a National District championship by passing for 710 yards (53 of 93) and 14 touchdowns while throwing only three interceptions. He had a five-touchdown passing game (four in the first quarter) in a victory over Lee that year.
For his Wakefield career, Poythress passed for 1,828 yards and 26 touchdowns in 21 games, having an 11-10 overall record as a starter.
Poythress was chosen as a second-team all-Sun Gazette quarterback in 2016 and was honorable mention at that position in 2015 and 2017.
The quarterback attracted offers to play Division I football, until suffering a serious season-ending knee injury in the second game off the football season his senior year.
“He was very good for us and so easy to coach – a ‘yes sir, no sir’ guy,” Wakefield head football coach Wayne Hogwood said. “He helped us win a championship.”
Hogwood explained how Poythress, also a standout baseball player at Wakefield, was a talented wide receiver as well, but was much more valuable as a quarterback.
“He was the best wide receiver we had and we wanted to play him there, but we didn’t have anybody else to throw it to him,” Hogwood said.
Poythress initially attended a prep school in Florida to play football after graduating from Wakefield. The school had some issues with its athletic program, so Poythress eventually left. He and his younger brother, Cason, were planning to attend Averett University in Danville together this fall to play football for the Division III team. Cason is already at the college and will still join the team.
“Colton was very excited about that situation and the opportunity to play there with Cason,” Yeatts said.
Younger brother Caine Poythress, a rising sophomore at Wakefield, was the starting quarterback for Wakefield’s 7-1 freshman team in 2019.
“They have been a fun family to coach,” Hogwood said.
Wakefield boys basketball coach Tony Bentley didn’t coach Poythress, but knew the athlete well.
“Any interaction I had with Colton was always good. He told me the truth about things,” Bentley said. “He was a good kid.”