by Andy Hilton, recruit757
Every recent game between these two has been a battle of wills. There’s a history between Lake Taylor and Phoebus, and it’s full of struggle. End of November games are typically grueling, high stakes affairs, and this one will be no different. On Friday night, Harbor Park becomes the Thunderdome.
This is the game that Hank Sawyer’s Titans have been preparing for since January. On November 18 last year, the Titans fell in the Eastern Region semifinal on a last second kick by Dylan Kremp that won the game for the Phantoms, 20-17. Who’s been responsible for finishing Lake Taylor’s season recently? In 2009, the Phantoms. In 2008, the Phantoms.
In 2008, the match up looked most like what it does today. Both teams came in at 12-0. Phoebus won 14-0 and went on to win the State Championship with a 15-0 record. Phoebus has won the State Championship four times in a row and five times in the last six years.
This year’s match up is a whole different story. Lake Taylor has always had swagger, but this is supposed to be their year. The Titans are loaded with talent, and can boast a backfield that has carried them throughout the season. Brandon “Pork Chop” Moore has tallied 1562 yards and 21 touchdowns on the season on 183 carries, while Norview transfer Daquan Davis has chipped in 1249 yards and 15 touchdowns on 140 carries. Phoebus is buoyed by workhorse senior Tony Pittman who has 1761 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns on the season on 241 carries despite missing two games earlier in the year.
There’s no doubt that this will be a game between teams that like to run. The quarterbacks are more than capable of beating you with the pass as well. The Titans rely on junior quarterback Delmon Williams while the Phantoms march out talented, and now seasoned, freshman Terrell “T.T.” Toliver. Expect Lake Taylor to mix in the pass a bit more than Phoebus will. Phoebus Head Coach Jeremy Blunt will want to keep Toliver’s confidence high as he continues to grow week by week. Both teams’ passes will be calculated tosses on plays that are designed to work consistently.
On defense, both teams are tenacious. Lake Taylor likes to stack the box and rush more players than an offensive line can handle. That means Phoebus has to execute quickly, either in the pass or on the run. The Phantoms have the beef on the line to hold back incoming rushers, but speed and sheer numbers will give the Titans and advantage on defense. Phoebus doesn’t subscribe to the same game plan defensively, but the results are just as impressive. The Phantoms gave up 21 points to Hampton a few weeks ago and 27 points to Heritage earlier in the season. This is a typical Phantom team that doesn’t bend much, and certainly doesn’t break.
You’re not going to see a high scoring affair with a lot of big plays.
The coaching comparison is almost as pronounced as it was in the Hampton/Phoebus game. While Hank Sawyer doesn’t have quite the longevity of Hampton Coach Mike Smith, Sawyer is equally as wise and wily. Coach Sawyer has been in this position before. He wants to win this game badly. This is the opportunity to redeem previous Titan teams that have fallen to the Phantoms. Phoebus Head Coach Jeremy Blunt has been through the wars with his team, but it’s his first turn as head coach. He’s beaten Mike Smith and the Crabbers twice this season, and the Phantoms are playing typical Phoebus football. They haven’t missed a beat and are 8-0 under Blunt.
Expect a dog fight. Neither team will back down. This could be the hardest game left on the schedule for both teams. The Eastern Region is a crucible that has toughened many a team for a State Championship run.
#2 Phoebus (12-0) vs. #1 Lake Taylor (12-0) at Harbor Park, Norfolk – 7:30 p.m. Friday
– Andy Hilton