Nearly three months after taking over amid unenviable circumstances, Jeremy Blunt was announced as Phoebus’ football coach on a full-time basis Monday afternoon.
Blunt, 29, had been elevated to interim head coach on Sept. 26 after Stan Sexton was placed on suspension. Blunt guided the Phantoms to an 8-1 record, the lone loss coming in the Eastern Region Division 5 final.
“For them to even look my way, that was much appreciated,” said Blunt, the fifth head coach in the program’s 38-year history. “Mainly, I was happy for the players. They’ve been through a lot of changes and adversity the past few years. To see them go through (a) change again would have been difficult.
“For the opportunity, I’m certainly excited. And I’m humbled by it.”
Blunt, a 2002 Phoebus graduate, said he met with the administration “a number of times” to discuss the position.
“They’re a great team here, the administration, and they know what they want,” he said. “Education and the reputation of this school is first and foremost, so going through the process and understanding what they want was huge. It made the decision easier knowing that support is there.
“There were other opportunities for me … so I had to go through a process of (deciding) whether this would be for me. My heart is here. This is my school. I love these kids and I love this program. I love the professionals who work in and throughout the school. Having that, knowing that, it made my decision easier.”
Principal William Beverley informed Phoebus’ players of Blunt’s promotion Monday afternoon. It was warmly received.
“I’ve known him ever since I was in elementary school,” junior lineman Kevin Lyles said. “The guys wanted him back. He’s the person we need to get back on track and (win) another state championship.
“He can give the program a different identity. I feel like the program was going down the wrong track, and he’s the man to put it back on top.”
Blunt, a 2002 Phoebus graduate, joined the Phantoms’ coaching staff in 2009. He was in his first season as defensive coordinator when Sexton was suspended (and eventually dismissed) following an incident in practice between two players.
Blunt had two days to prepare the team for its next game against Bethel. Phoebus won 19-17 and finished the regular season undefeated for the fifth time in six years. The Phantoms’ run of four consecutive state titles ended with a 54-0 loss to Lake Taylor.
“I met Coach Blunt when he was probably early high school (age) and hanging out at the community center,” Phoebus athletic director Deonna Brown told the players. “So I’ve known him since he was probably about your age. I’ve been quite impressed with his leadership, integrity and character.”
Blunt was an All-Eastern Region linebacker as a senior at Phoebus, which he helped win its first state championship in 2001. After graduating
Hampton University with a degree in history, he became a teacher at Sedgefield Elementary.
For the last three years, he's worked with at-risk youths through Agape Therapeutic Counseling in Hampton.
Blunt, who coached the JV team to a 16-2 record in 2009 and ’10, said he expects the coaching staff to remain intact.