Hiring Sexton a no-brainer for Phoebus

"As an assistant you kind of work in anonymity," he said. "You might make a mistake, but it doesn't come back to you except behind closed doors. … As a head coach, you learn to make decisions that aren't popular."

The most difficult or unpopular decision Sexton made at Warwick?

Oddly enough, it involved Phoebus. Preparing for a 2007 playoff game against the Phantoms, Sexton suspended four starters for violating team behavior rules.

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The Raiders lost 28-9 but learned valuable lessons.

"Physically we didn't match up with Phoebus," Sexton said. "To then take four starters out of the picture. But I think they became stronger for it because it was a hard decision."

Sexton saw that strength when Warwick opened this past season 1-3. The Raiders won their next five, earned a second consecutive playoff bid and competed admirably in a 24-17 first-round loss to Lake Taylor.

Dee said such experiences are "a huge advantage, knowing that the hard decision always comes back to you. It's up to you to make sure everything goes right."

At Phoebus, "everything" is not a stretch. Dee's teams won 215 games in 24 years. The Phantoms were 15-0 last season and own four of the past eight Division 5 state titles.

Can you say expectations?

"This is true of all coaches," Dee said. "They put more pressure on themselves than what you can put on them from the outside, trust me. He expects to come in here and win every game."

"I'm already waiting for the first 'Coach Dee wouldn't have done it that way,' " Sexton laughed.

He won't have to wait long. But let's give the guy some space.

Phoebus' offense will remain run-first, play-action later. The defense will remain eight-in-the-box aggressive.

But the coach calling the shots will be different. He'll be a little more relaxed but no less demanding. He may even smile on the sidelines.

"He is," Dee said, "totally prepared."

As Sexton answered questions via cell phone Wednesday, one of his three children was audible in the background. Sexton immediately lauded his wife, Carolyn, a computer technology specialist for Hampton schools and a rabid football fan.

"She's a Kecoughtan grad," Sexton said, "but I converted her."

David Teel can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at dteel@dailypress.com. For more from Teel, read his blog at dailypress.com/teeltime.