Phoebus coach Stan Sexton warned his players about this story you're reading. Not that there's anything negative or controversial about it. But there is something about publicizing a 32-game winning streak and the chance to make history that would make any coach wince.
But that's where the Phantoms stand. Thirty-two consecutive wins in the Peninsula District, a feat only one other team — Hampton from 1980-84 — has done. And Phoebus will be standing alone if it beats Heritage, which is winless and has scored three points all season, Thursday night at Darling Stadium.
"I said something to them Saturday at practice about the situation," Sexton said. "I told them there will probably be a lot of stuff in the paper, but it doesn't mean anything. We always tell them we're only as good as the last game we played. If we don't come out and play well against Heritage, we're in for a battle."
Coaches have to say that stuff, of course. Then again, Phoebus (3-0, 2-0 in the PD) didn't get this far by mailing it in. The Phantoms not only have won 32 straight, they've done it with thorough domination.
The average margin of victory is 37.3 points. Twenty-one of the wins came with a running clock. And eight times Phoebus won by at least 50 points.
"It means this program is continuing its legacy," said senior tight end/defensive end Daquan Romero, whose class is 29-0 in the PD. "It means a lot to us as seniors, it being our last year and so much on the line.
"We don't really talk about it much, but we keep it in our minds. It would be a waste if we didn't win it."
It all started on Oct. 27, 2006, with a 35-0 shutout of Gloucester. That came one week after Hampton's Tyrod Taylor almost single-handedly whipped the Phantoms 35-10 at Darling. And though nobody knew it at the time, it would be the start of something.
Phoebus won its final two district games, neither of which all that impressively, and then went on a four-game roll through the playoffs for its third state title this decade. The Phantoms followed that with 9-0 district marks in 2007, '08 and '09. No other team has gone 9-0 three consecutive years.
And this year, Phoebus has beaten Gloucester and Warwick by a 91-6 count.
"A lot of luck has been involved," Sexton said. "I mean, seriously. We've had great players, kids who have learned how to win over the years. But sometimes, you do have to have some luck on your side."
There has been some of that. Twice in 2009, Phoebus had to rally to win on last-second field goals by Eric Enderson.
The first came against Woodside, which led 19-18 in the final minute. Phoebus had a fourth-and-15 when Paul Morant scrambled and completed a 24-yard pass to Romond Deloatch. Some say Morant had crossed the line of scrimmage before he threw. Others say a lineman was downfield.
Regardless, after a delay of game penalty pushed him further back, Enderson drilled a 39-yard field goal with nine seconds left for the win.
The second came five weeks later against Bethel. Phoebus trailed 14-0 in the second quarter and it was a tie game in the fourth.
had two chances to win but each time fumbled inside the 10-yard line — on their final possession of regulation, and their one series in overtime. Enderson's 21-yarder won it.
The only other close call came in 2007, when Phoebus rallied from a 27-20 deficit to beat Bethel on Matt Cole's 27-yarder with eight seconds left.
Another factor has been staying healthy. There have been injuries — linebacker Caleb Taylor missed all but two games last year with a bad knee, quarterback Tajh Boyd played most of '08 with a torn ligament and Romero was bothered all last season with a bad ankle. But key players stepped up, and the machine rolled on.
"We just don't like to lose," Taylor said. "So we go out and play like it's our last game."
The streak began with
, the architect of Phoebus football, as head coach. It continues with Sexton, Dee's assistant from 1991-2004 who is now in his second year as the big whistle. Most of the assistants have been on Ireland Street the whole time.
And, of course, the talent. Dennis Mathis, Haroon Brown, Dominik Davenport, Shawne Alston, Chaz Robinson, Charlie Jones, Colby Goodwyn, Tajh Boyd, Romero, Taylor … to name but a few.
Sexton says there's been little talk of making history Thursday night, only of beating Heritage. But his players know what's out there.
"They read about it and they have people in the building, friends, and parents telling them about it," he said. "But they're kind of like I am. The streak is nice, but it doesn't win you any power points or state championships. All it is, is a streak.