HAMPTON — Not to go overboard with hyperbole, but you could say it's been their sacred ground. Over the past four autumns, Justin "Boom Box" Lyles and Eric Enderson were part of 36 wins at Darling Stadium. And only two losses.
"Oh yeah," Lyle said. "We've had some good years here."
Which made Friday night particularly interesting. Despite winning four state championships together at Phoebus, they were on different sides in the VHSCA All-Star football game. Lyles, the Phantoms' All-Group AAA linebacker, was in his natural geographic region. But Enderson, Phoebus' quarterback and kicker, was on the West as a last-second fill-in.
Somebody had to go out with a loss Friday night, and it turned out to be Enderson. A 3-yard touchdown run by Hampton's Kavon Bellamy with 37 seconds left gave the East a 31-24 win.
The West led 21-0 midway through the second quarter, but the East forced a 24-24 tie on an 82-yard touchdown run by L.C. Bird's Yahkee Johnson with 9:29 left. Then, after a 26-yard punt return by Lafayette's
Back-to-back runs by Buckingham County quarterback Tarian Ayers moved the ball to the 3-yard line, and Bellamy scored the game-winner on first-and-goal.
The East won for the third consecutive year.
So how did Enderson wind up on the West roster? He was asked about playing last spring, but he knew his orientation at the University of Delaware — where he'll begin classes in August — fell on All-Star week. So that was it.
Sunday night at his hotel in Newark, Enderson received a text from Phantoms coach Stan Sexton. Was there any chance he could make it back in time to be a fill-in at kicker? Enderson was confused: He knew Woodside's Chris Moller, his good friend, was kicking for the East.
But it wasn't the East that needed a kicker. It was the West.
"I thought about it for second," Enderson said. "I didn't know anybody on the West, but I thought it might be nice to beat Boom Box and Coach Sexton and Roc (Jackson, a Phoebus lineman)."
Enderson certainly did his part to make that happen. In addition to four touchbacks and a punting average of 49.3, he made a 52-yard field goal with 6:49 remaining in the third quarter. After his holder congratulated him, Lyles was next with a hug and a pat to the head.
As it turns out, Enderson did see a familiar face on the West roster. Hampton running back/linebacker Dallas Cogdell was another emergency fill-in.
Enderson and Cogdell were two of six players who normally would have been on the East but were shipped over to the West out of necessity. Also switching sides was Heritage receiver/defensive back Frank Brooks.
In addition to the punt return, Smith scored the East's first touchdown on a 3-yard run. Bruton's De'Arius Olvis had two catches for 60 yards. Jamestown's Rodney Smith sealed the game with an interception in the end zone on the final play.
EAST 31, WEST 24
West: Powell 7 run (Enderson kick), 6:02.
West: Swift 7 run (Enderson kick), :04.
West: Penn 35 pass from Motley (Enderson kick), 7:56.
East: Smith 3 run (kick blocked), 3:53.
East: Bellamy 1 run (run failed), 1:44.
West: Enderson FG 52, 6:49.
East: Semones 5 pass from Bell (run failed), 11:50.
East: Johnson 82 run (kick failed), 9:29.