Over objections by both coaches, the Phoebus-Hampton football game could move to the last week of the season

Mark this moment in history: The football coaches on Ireland Street and Queen Street are in accord.

Barring objections from the Peninsula District's principals, which rarely happens at this stage of the process, the 2011 football season will end with Phoebus going against Hampton on Nov. 4. Yes, that means the Game of the Year would be Week 10.

District officials insist it happened by chance as the schedule was reset, as it is every two years. Either way, Phantoms coach Stan Sexton and Crabbers coach Mike Smith don't like it.

"With all the emotions that go into the game and the physical nature, it would be hard to turn around for a playoff game the next week," Sexton said. "I mean, that would be a bear. They're a state-championship-caliber team."

"I'm not happy about it at all," Smith said. "That should never be the last game. We (coaches) should have some input, I would think. But we didn't."

Heritage athletic director Dwayne Peters, in his fourth year overseeing football for the Peninsula District, said the change was not by design. He said each school drew a number, and those numbers were assigned to a position on a pre-designed round-robin chart.

"I swear to you, it just ended up that way," Peters said. "Nobody told me to do it that way. That's the way it worked out on the chart."

Peters said nothing is set in stone until the district's 10 principals give their approval next month at the next scheduled meeting. If principals Robert Johnson of Phoebus and Myra Chambers of Hampton request a change, Peters said, he would do his best to oblige.

"In the four years I've been doing this, not one principal has asked me to redo it," he said. "But that's their prerogative. They run the league."

Peters said he sent the schedule to the district's athletic directors Tuesday and asked them to review it. He said Thursday he has not been informed of any problems.

Since 2000, the Phoebus-Hampton showdown has been played no later than the eighth week of the season. It's always the big draw at Darling Stadium, attracting an average of 7,000 fans. Last year's regular-season game drew 9,400 before the gates were closed at halftime.

Sexton said he found out about the switch to Week 10 Thursday morning when he attended the All-Eastern Region coaches meeting. Smith was the one who told him.

"I'm hoping they'll adjust it," Sexton said. "Honestly, I'd rather have it be early or in the middle, like we've done the last couple of years."

Smith has been in this situation before. In the 1970s, the PD's premier rivalry was Hampton-Bethel. The game was played on the final Saturday of the regular season.

"It was terrible," he said. "Good golly, win, lose, or draw, it killed you for the next week."

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