Phoebus displays dominant showing at Powerade 7-on-7 Invitational
If you walk into the gymnasium at Phoebus High School through the back entry of the campus you’ll notice the weight room. Continue to walk into the weight room past the fence looking toward the wall on the right and you’ll notice a t-shirt that bears the word “Hopewell.” It’s the ultimate sign of respect in competition especially when you’ve been bested by the very team that you keep in your sights every single day you wake up. Right after Phoebus knocked off Booker T. Washington last November, the Phantoms welcomed the Blue Devils to Darling Stadium in the second-round of the playoffs. Hopewell walked away with one-point victory, but ever since that moment, Coach Jeremy Blunt has made it his mission to make sure his men will be ready when the opportunity presents itself again.
That t-shirt hanging up on the wall has been a daily reminder that if you step into this weight room and take a day off this is what will happen; you’ll go home early. We hung that t-shirt up as a reminder that we have to continually work towards our goal. Those guys came in and they were one-point better than us and for us that’s not enough,” Coach Blunt stated.
This off-season for the Phoebus is one in which we’ve watched the Phantoms hit the road a little more than in recent seasons. With Hopewell serving as a daily reminder what happens when they take a day off, Phoebus has been striving to improve their game play all summer. The Phantoms hit the road last month entering the Battlefield Shootout 7-on-7 Tournament and knocked off Highland Springs (JV) in the Championship Bracket. They were then able to keep up that same momentum over the weekend when they headed down to Charlotte, North Carolina for the Powerade 7-on-7 Invitational.
However, the Phantoms weren’t the only team to represent Hampton Roads in Charlotte. Bishop Sullivan, Highland Springs, Maury, Nansemond River and Patrick Henry were the five other representatives from the state of Virginia in attendance. Be that as it may, the Phantoms were able to finish Friday and Saturday with a record of 11-3 knocking off Highland Springs yet again to finish in third place out of 40 total teams.
“It was a great experience for us. We played 14 games in two days and there were some quality teams out there with elite talent from all over. Anytime we can get these guys matched up with people they wouldn’t ordinarily see is always a great thing. You have to adapt really fast and that’s always a good thing,” Coach Blunt said.
In two days worth of game play the Phantoms put up 310 points while surrendering 248 points. What’s been noticeably different about the Phantoms this off-season is their willingness to open up the passing game in a way we don’t normally see from them.
Phoebus has been predicated on displaying an extremely stingy defense while relying on the running game to drive their opponent into the ground. The maturation of Chris Daniels at the quarterback position should catapult him to a status not many Phantom quarterbacks reach. This combined with the emergence of Dalon Dixon and we start to see a Phoebus program that looks a little less one-dimensional on the offensive side of the ball. The philosophy at Phoebus is one that the student-athletes have really taken in and embraced which includes closing out on their routes and challenging each and every thing that comes their way. Expectations have been high for the Phantoms, but there are few prospects that have continued to exceed expectations.
“I knew what Barry Hargraves would look like coming out and also Dalon Dixon. The weekend was a good chance for Dalon to get out there and compete with other guys. Latrelle Smith, John Tucker and Tyrelle Daniels really stepped up and gave us something totally different. Jaylen (White) was exceptional for us out of the backfield and a mismatch all game. Chris Daniels did a great job leading the offense and putting the ball where it needed to be,” Coach Blunt stated.
At the end of the day, 7-on-7 isn’t real deal football. Sometimes you’re going to be out there in helmets and sometimes you’re not. T-shirts and shorts is the usual attire and shoulder pads never get placed on so sometimes it can be hard to evaluate the effectiveness of a 7-on-7 tournament. Let a losing team tell it and the value of a 7-on-7 will make you question why you should be out there in the first place. However, one of the biggest factors to take away is the chemistry and the team bonding that occurs when out on the road. Combine this with the repetition, timing, exposure and competition you have when training using 7-on-7’s and a valid case will begin to form.
Phoebus has been at it most of the off-season with practices scheduled throughout the entire week. The Phantoms plan to go full-contact the first week of August along with the rest of the region and will open up their season against Heritage on September 1. Darling Stadium will be the place of engagement as kickoff is set to start at 7:00 p.m.
– Brandon Mitchell