RICHMOND --—He rested for maybe six of the game's 121 plays. Yet had Saturday's Group AAA, Division 5 final gone to overtime, you know Phoebus fullback/defensive end Xavier Adibi would have been as fresh as ever.
Of course, there was no need for OT, and Adibi had a large role in seeing to that. On one side of the ball, he rushed for 155 yards and scored all four of his team's touchdowns. On the other, he spearheaded a defense that yielded 170 yards ? 20 less than his all-purpose total ? and one meaningless touchdown.
So if you want a Most Valuable Player from the Phantoms' 26-7 victory over Patrick Henry-Ashland for their first-ever state title, here's your guy.
"He was unbelievable," Phoebus coach Bill Dee said. "He was a man amongst boys out there today."
Actually, you could say that about the Phantoms as a whole, who dominated the Patriots all afternoon. On its first possession, Phoebus went 61 yards in nine plays, never facing third down. Later, in what Dee called "a thing of beauty," the Phantoms scored on a 17-play, 85- yard drive that ate 9 minutes, 5 seconds off the clock.
"That's our gameplan for every game," Adibi, a junior, said. "We play smash-mouth football. That's our game. We knew they had a lot of big guys, but if we play our game, nobody can stop us."
Certainly not Patrick Henry on this day. The Patriots average 278 pounds across their defensive front. Still, they were no match for Phoebus' offensive line, which often uses tight ends Shadeed Harris and Micah Littlejohn as bookends. The Phantoms finished with 331 rushing yards, 81 above their season average.
"Our plan was to run right at 'em, between the tackles, right down their throats," center Alan Pavlik said. "It's what we've done all year except for the Warwick game, and that's why we got beat in that one."
"They weren't stopping the run," Dee said, "and until they stopped it we were going to keep on running."
Phoebus tailback Travis McCright rushed for 169 yards, giving him 2,138 for the season. He had 117 of that by halftime; Adibi cracked triple digits on his first carry of the third quarter. Phoebus nearly doubled Patrick Henry in time of possession (30:24 to 17:36) and ran 23 more plays from scrimmage.
"We just couldn't get on the field," Patriot quarterback Anthony Martinez said. "They controlled the ball."
Adibi's 4-yard touchdown run less than four minutes into the game put Phoebus ahead 7-0. He scored from 3 and 13 yards before halftime to make it 19-0.
Then he capped the Phantoms' marathon drive ? which started with 4:25 left in the third quarter and ended with 7:20 remaining in the game - with a 11-yard reception from quarterback Ronnie Hendricks.
For a guy who set a school record with 19 quarterback sacks, it was an ideal finish.
"It feels like a dream," he said.