Bill Dee spent no time basking in Phoebus' first state football championship Saturday.
"You guys set the standard," he told his players. "Now, you young guys, we're not satisfied with just one."
The highest of standards.
Phoebus dominated Patrick Henry-Ashland 26-7 in this Group AAA, Division 5 title game at University of Richmond Stadium. Dominated a previously undefeated opponent. Dominated a program steeped in postseason experience.
We shouldn't be surprised. The Phantoms outscored their four playoff foes 163-42, an average margin of 30.3. They outscored their final four regular-season opponents 206-17, an average margin of 47.3.
"By far, they're the best team we've played," Patrick Henry quarterback Anthony Martinez said.
The best and most complete. Offense, defense, coaching: Phoebus lacks nothing.
Tailback Travis McCright bobs and weaves. Fullback Xavier Adibi bulldozes. The offensive line bludgeons. Quarterback Ronnie Hendricks and receiver Philip Brown punish those who ignore the pass.
Patrick Henry went to opposite extremes, smothering Brown on the perimeter. But McCright and Adibi exploited the Patriots' underbelly for 169 and 155 yards rushing, respectively.
Defensively, the Phantoms attack with speed and strength, traits personified by Micah Littlejohn. As a stand-up end or down interior lineman, Littlejohn brings an imposing presence to every play.
Saturday showcased his versatility. He caught Patrick Henry tailback Magel Smith from behind --twice. He swarmed reserve quarterback John Burley for a 15-yard loss. He harassed Martinez, a Virginia recruit, into 5-of-13 passing.
"We knew if he stayed in the pocket and had passing lanes, he'd throw all day on us," Littlejohn said of Martinez. "We had to put pressure on him."
Martinez, strong arm, slow feet, had no chance against the Phantoms. Nor did his teammates.
"We knew we were going to do it all week," Hendricks said. "Just pound it, pound it, pound it. We stay in the weight room all year long. It's just automatic."
Indeed, Saturday's game felt like a mere formality. The Phantoms drove 61 yards in nine plays on their first possession and never were challenged.
Their final statement: a 17-play, 85-yard touchdown drive that lasted 9:05.
"A thing of beauty," Dee said.
The drive extended Phoebus' lead to 26-0 midway through the fourth quarter and assured another state championship for the Peninsula District.
We repeat the mantra most every season, only because it's true: The Peninsula is Virginia's premier football district.
Bethel in 1992, Hampton from 1995-98, Heritage in 2000. And now Phoebus. That's seven state titles from four different district programs in the last 10 years. Not to mention Kecoughtan, which advanced to the Division 6 final in 1997.
"It's the best district in the state, and if you ask any college coach, they'll tell you it's one of the best districts in the country," Dee said.
Dee knows all too well. For 17 years he strived for Saturday's moment. He saw Heritage, the prep equivalent of an expansion franchise, win a state title. He saw Hampton and Ronald Curry, Bethel and Allen Iverson.
When would Dee's moment arrive?
"You just appreciate this so much," he said. "You put your life on hold every year. It's a very emotional thing. You work your whole life trying to accomplish something, and you finally do."
Yet Dee understands who deserves the credit. It's the kids, many of whom weren't even born when he began his Phoebus journey.
"This is a great team," Dee said. "It really is."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times