Latest Team Rankings
Free Text Alerts
|ShopMobileRadio RSSRivals.com Yahoo! Sports|
|College Teams||High Schools|
September 20, 2013
Phantoms Start Slow, Finish Strong vs. Denbigh: The beginning was not one the Phoebus Phantoms would like to remember, getting outgained by the Denbigh Patriots 104-0 in the opening quarter on Thursday night at John B. Todd Stadium in Newport News while trailing at three separate instances in the first half before battling back to tie things up at 21 late in the second period.
Fortunately for Phoebus, they had a whole second half to right their mistakes and the Phantoms did that, scoring 28 points over the game's final two quarters and putting up 35 unanswered on the board on their way to a 49-21 victory.
"The first half, we were very undisciplined," admitted Phoebus Head Football Coach Jeremy Blunt. "We didn't take advantage of certain things, put ourselves in bad position, didn't get a hand on a receiver, lost contain a lot of times and they capitalized. Mental breakdowns; things that we were doing first half we made sure we focused on second half. That was a difference maker."
Amazingly, Phoebus overcame 22 penalties for 159 yards and failing to convert on fourth-and-goal twice in the second half to win and do so by double-figures for the third consecutive week after losing in their opener to nationally-ranked DeMatha by four.
"Either one of those things can cause you to lose a game," said Blunt of the penalties and two failed red zone chances. "It just lets me know that I have to buckle down as a Head Coach because all of that falls on me. I'll say this, for us to struggle in both of those areas and still be able to put up what we put up against a really good team, it's not bad. But we've got a lot of work to do."
In the second half, the Phoebus defense really tightened the screws and buckled down. Denbigh went from gaining 186 yards through 24 minutes of play to racking up only 35 in the second half on 20 plays, going three-and-out twice.
Each of the three units - - offense, defense and special teams - - scored touchdowns for Phoebus in their win as they moved to 3-1 overall. That included a strip-sack by senior lineman Walter Brantley, where the ball rolled into the end zone and was recovered by junior lineman Harry Lewis for a touchdown. It was one of four turnovers on the evening for Denbigh, which dropped to 2-2 overall.
"Every time I touch the ball, I'm thinking I'm going to go to the house with it," said Robinson, already a target of several BCS schools like Michigan, Nebraska, Penn State and Virginia to name a few. "As a player, you can't think anything else. That played tied it up and gave us some momentum and we all put our heads back up with that kick return."
To date, Robinson holds offers from Akron, ODU and UVA. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound defender plays with outstanding confidence and savvy.
"This is a kid who played safety as a freshman last year, and in our defense with the way that we cover, our safety is the quarterback of the defense. For him to do that as a freshman is exceptional," said Blunt of Robinson.
"He's a 4.2 student GPA. We move him to corner and you add that intelligence to the game with his athleticism, he's a stud. He really stepped up for us tonight in some key moments. You need those things and it's good when you get young guys to do it."
Robinson wasn't done making key plays. On offense, he ran 16 yards for a first down on a jet sweep. Midway through the third quarter, Denbigh was driving to pull within one touchdown of the Phantoms, and on second-and-goal inside the 10-yard line, Robinson was there to intercept a pass in the end zone to thwart the Patriots' scoring opportunity.
"We stayed in the same coverage, although we made some changes in the locker room at half-time to better defend what they were doing. It was a real big pick because they had momentum and were on the verge of scoring," Robinson went on to say.
"Collectively, we've got to get better. Personally myself, I was a little sloppy and contributed to some of the undisciplined moments we had. Even though we came out with the win, we have to get better as a team. Our heart and effort was there in the second half, but we've got work to do."
"His God-given ability and determination is exceptional," said Blunt. "You know us, we're going to run it, and it's good to know Phoebus is okay again running the ball."
It took Williams a little while to get his footing, gaining only six yards on his first three runs. After that, nine of his next 22 rushes went for at least 10 yards as he spun out of tackles all night long.
"All summer, it's been about hard work. In my backyard or anywhere, I've been working on my feet because I know that's my weakness," Williams remarked. "I had no feet last year. I wanted to come back stronger than ever and I know every year I've got to get better."
His teammates recognize his importance to the team as well.
"Marshawn's a bull," Robinson added. "He's always a big part of the game and I don't think anybody can stop him. I'm glad he's on our team this year rather than playing against him."
Williams, a transfer from Hampton High, did much of his damage in the second half with the game still up for grabs after a 21-all tie at the break. He ran for 153 yards on 20 attempts over the final 24 minutes.
"In the second half, we just said we've got to finish. Finish the game," Williams commented.
They even earned praise from Blunt, who agrees they deserve to be talked among the most improved teams in the Hampton Roads area.
"They're a well-coached team and those kids are athletes. A lot of seniors [are] over there and they're really going to do something in this district. They can play ball," he said.
Quarterback Terrence Dingle completed 10 of his first 15 pass attempts with touchdown strikes to Darius Banks and Jaquan Jenkins while also rushing for a score. Dingle cooled down considerably in the second half, misfiring on nine of his next ten passes.
"In my opinion, he's one of the top quarterbacks in the state," Blunt said of Dingle. "A lot of people don't know about him, but I know. I watch a lot of film and he was one of those kids coming back that I knew was going to do something. He showed tonight he's got poise in the pocket, and if you don't get a rush on him, he'll make you pay."
Senior linebacker Patrick Prosser continued to show he's one of the better defensive players in the Peninsula District, recording a game-high 13 total tackles, seven solo stops, 2.5 tackles for loss, a sack and a fumble recovery. Chris Peace followed up his four-sack performance vs. Kecoughtan with six total tackles and a sack.
The Crabbers were eliminated in the playoffs a year ago by the Phantoms and began 1-2 for the first time since 1980, though evened their mark to 2-2 with a 28-21 triumph over Kecoughtan on Thursday night.
Blunt says throw the records out the window when these two archrivals get together.
"They can move the ball well in the air and it's a rivalry. I don't care about their record right now. I'll be honest with you, they can drop 20 and when they come in to play us, they're going to give us everything that they have," he said.
"If we go in sleeping, that's a team that's well-coached and with no problem can easily put up 40 or 50 on you in no time. We'll have to come in focused and have to really grow from the second half and build on that."
One player who won't be able to shy away from the spotlight when the Crabbers and Phantoms hook up is Williams as he takes on his old school.
"It's just all business. It's nothing too personal," stated Williams. "They're just the next team we play. We're going to get back to practice and work on our execution."
Phantoms 49: (3-1 Overall)
Patriots 21: (2-2 Overall)
Matthew Hatfield serves as State Basketball Analyst for VirginiaPreps.com, part of the Rivals.com Network. Check out Hatfield's Twitter page for more sports related updates, and you can also read his work in the Suffolk News Herald. To contact Matthew, please e-mail email@example.com, and don't forget to listen to him every Saturday at 10AM on ESPN Radio 94.1, plus watch him on the Cox 11 Sports Report.