Phoebus holds off South County for fourth straight title
Romond Deloatch of Phoebus makes this touchdown catch covered by Marlon Dubuisson of South County during the first quarter Saturday in Charlottesville. (Rob Ostermaier / December 10, 2011)
- Extraordinary efforts, individual and collective, carry Phoebus to another state title
- Phoebus' title is the 15th for the Peninsula District in 25 years
- Solid defense keys Phoebus' state championship victory
- PICTURES: Phoebus 20, South County 10 (Photos by Rob Ostermaier)
- Diseases and Illnesses
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Yet on a bright Saturday afternoon at Scott Stadium, Phoebus did what only one other team in state history had done. With another stunning performance on the big stage by wideout Romond Deloatch and a vintage defensive effort, the Phantoms beat South County 20-10 for their fourth consecutive Group AAA Division 5 championship.
Phoebus (13-2) joins Hampton as the only team in VHSL history to four-peat. And that expression — "four-peat" —was used a lot.
"We had to do this," linebacker Isaiah Jones-Clark said. "We had to get a four-peat because nobody thought we would get it. I don't know why they thought we wouldn't come back. This is four-peat!"
Indeed it was. In a game that was tied midway through the third quarter, Phoebus played like a team that had been there before. Deloatch's 50-yard touchdown catch from Eric Enderson gave the Phantoms the lead for good at 17-10 with 4:39 left in the third. The final 12 minutes were simply a matter of putting it away.
Enderson, Deloatch and linebacker Justin Lyles became the second group of seniors to win four state championships in their careers.
"I feel like Bill Russell," Deloatch said.
South County coach Gerry Pannoni called Deloatch (four catches, 152 yards, two touchdowns) "the difference in the game." Though Phoebus' defense was excellent save for one drive and one trick play, he's probably right.
Deloatch scored both of Phoebus' touchdowns. On the first, he got South County corner Marlon Dubuisson in man coverage and used his 7-inch height advantage to pull down Enderson's throw on a fade route. But it was Deloatch's second touchdown that was the biggest play of the day.
South County (11-4) had just tied the game with an 11-play, 63-yard drive, almost all of it between the tackles. The champ looked to be on the ropes. But on the fourth play of Phoebus' possession, Enderson threw a 50-yard touchdown to Deloatch, who had the slightest gap on Stallions corner Marcus Thomas, to put the Phantoms back ahead.
"He was probably five centimeters apart from the DB," Enderson said, "but I figured that was enough."
Deloatch, who had six catches for 125 yards in last year's state final here, was impossible for South County to stop in its man-to-man.
"We knew they were going to do a lot of man coverage, and we didn't feel they could cover Romond," Phoebus coach Stan Sexton said. "That's not to say their kids aren't good players. Romond being 6-5, 220, that's a tough matchup for any corner or safety."
South County geared up to stop the running game, and the Phantoms finished with a season-low 111 yards on 43 attempts. But for the second straight week, Enderson's arm was a factor. He completed 8-of-16 passes for 177 yards.
"We came in thinking we'd have to be more balanced because of how good they are against the run," Phoebus offensive coordinator Alonzo Coley said. "Their linebackers and D-line are really, really good. We knew coming in we'd have to throw the ball more than we have in the past."
On defense, Phoebus had given up 63 points in its last three games. But Saturday, a little healthier with Jones-Clark back from a hyperextended elbow, things were different. The Phantoms forced five turnovers, the first two of which set up their first 10 points.
Lyles played despite a stomach flu — "We had to stop a couple of times on the way," Sexton offered — and had nine tackles. Cornerback DeShaun Summers also had nine stops, and safety Davon Robinson had two interceptions.
All in all, the perfect team win. And a fourth championship for the team so many counted out.
"You could read the message boards or Twitter, nobody thought we could do it from the beginning," Enderson said. "We won our first game 13-7, and everybody wrote us off. Then we lost to Woodside, and they were like, 'They're folding under the pressure.'