NO. 1 PHOEBUS PHANTOMS
COACH: Stan Sexton (fourth year at Phoebus, 43-2; seventh year overall, 66-21)
2012: 13-2, 7-2 Peninsula District (T-2nd); won Group AAA Division 5 championship
LAST TIME NOT IN PLAYOFFS: 2000
LAST LOSING SEASON: 1985
Aug. 31: Warwick (W, 13-7), 7
Sept. 7: at Churchland (W, 39-13), 7
Sept. 14: Kecoughtan (W, 22-7), 7
Sept. 21: Heritage (W, 37-0), 7
Sept. 28: at Bethel (W, 28-13), 7
Oct. 4: at Menchville (W, 72-0), 6
Oct. 11: Denbigh (W, 50-8), 7;
Oct. 19: at Woodside (L, 14-9), 7
Oct. 26: at Gloucester (W, 42-7), 7
Nov. 1: Hampton (L, 13-10), 7.
TOP RETURNEES: RB/LB Tony Pittman (6-0/215/Sr.), TE/LB Atavius Matthews (6-1/220/Sr.), QB/DE Will Mann (6-1/180/Sr.), FB/LB Dre’von Badger (6-0/200/Sr.), WR/DB Darius Jones (5-11/175/Jr.), FB/LB Malik Hawkins (5-10/200/Sr.), DL/OL Kevin Lyles (5-10/225/Jr.), OL/DL Tyreek Bailey (6-2/275/Sr.), OL/DL Mark Wilson (6-3/235/Sr.), OL/DL Walt Brantley (6-1/285/Jr.), PK-P Dylan Kremp (6-0/165/Sr.).
2011 STATISTICAL RANKINGS:
29.7 (T-1st)….……..PPG…...…...…….11.3 (2nd)
196.9 (3rd)……… Rushing…………..109.1 (3rd)
95.0 (5th)..…... Passing……….........77.0 (1st)
291.9 (3rd)..…….Total……………..186.1 (2nd)
For the first time in several years, if not ever, Phoebus will be starting a freshman at quarterback in the season opener. Terrell Toliver (6-2/190) won the job over Mann in the preseason and Sexton says he’s athletic enough to make plays. Of course, mostly he’ll be handing off to Pittman (273 carries, 1,577 yards), who compiled terrific numbers in only 12 games. He’s a nice combination of power and speed. Dre’von Badger (great name) is at fullback. Phoebus is very good up front with Wilson, Brantley, Bailey, Carlos Henderson (6-3/280/Jr.) and Harry Lewis (6-1/235/So.). Plenty of size and experience here. Phoebus lost playmaker WR Romond Deloatch, and the new group of receivers is untested. Quatez Ruffin, Troy Durham and Darius Jones are the top three, and none of them caught a pass last year. In short, the Phantoms should be tough on the ground but, until proven otherwise, a question mark in the air.
The Phantoms’ first year without defensive mastermind Greg Narvid went well, even with a few hiccups. Defensive Player of the Year Justin “Boom Box” Lyles is a huge loss, but Phoebus should be plenty strong. A big addition is Richie Staton (6-2/225/Sr.), a transfer from up the road at Kecoughtan who will be playing one of the end spots. Wilson, an Old Dominion commitment, will be the other end with Kevin Lyles and Harry Lewis (6-1/235/So.) in the middle. Matthews returned from knee surgery bigger and stronger, so he’s moved from the secondary to LB. Hawkins started every game last year. Ruffin and Jones will be the corners with Robbie Robinson (5-9/180/Fr.) at FS and Da’Quan Lane (5-10/185/Sr.) the rover. It might not be a vintage Phoebus defense, but should be plenty good on most nights.
THE COACH SAYS:
“The big problem about us (up front) is we’ve had an injury here and there. We haven’t been able to get our continuity with our starters yet that I’d like to have. … We’re not going to go too far from what we’ve been doing in the past. We’re a run-oriented team. We’ll run the ball and do some things with Terrell because of his athleticism. He throws a good ball and he’s made good decisions so far. He’s going to get better each week. … We have the toughest opening game in the district. This is a big game the first game of the season because Warwick offensively is as good as anybody we’ve seen. … The district is going to be as tough this year as it’s been in the last few years. … Losing Alonzo (Coley, an assistant, to Kecoughtan) has hurt, it really has. That’s been a big hole to fill with him because he’s such a good coach. On the other hand, we have some great young coaches who have stepped up and filled the void. I’m very confident in the young coaches we have.”
You keep waiting for it to happen, and it looked like it would last year when Phoebus lost twice in the regular season. Then the Phantoms went on another five-game playoff run for their fourth consecutive Group AAA Division 5 championship. So the question immediately became, can they make it five in a row — which nobody, not even Hampton, has done? Well, there are reasons why not (no experience in the passing game heads the list) but also reasons why Phoebus will at least be in the picture come championship time. Pittman is your typical Phantom runner and the O-Line should be solid. An already-strong defense added an all-district player in Staton. If everything meshes — and yes, if Phoebus gets some luck along the way — it can happen.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times