1. Phoebus is playing championship-caliber defense.
Lake Taylor wanted a shootout against Phoebus, but the Phantoms’ defense made the game a slugfest.
The Titans entered this week averaging 30.75 points per game. Lake Taylor notched the first score of the game, but after that, the home team could get no traction, and Phoebus won 25-7.
The Phantoms allowed 33 points total through the first half of their season, an average of 6.6 points per game, the lowest in the Peninsula District. They allowed two touchdowns to Heritage in their season opener, a 40-14 victory, but since then, no opponent has found the end zone more than once.
Such shutdown defense has defined many a Phoebus state championship team. If the Phantoms keep this up, they could contend for another.
2. Warhill’s Noah Holmes is rising to stardom.
Poquoson prevailed 19-9 over Warhill with key contributions in all three phases. Arguably, though, the individual standout on the night was Warhill’s Noah Holmes, a three-way force all by himself.
One of the top freshmen in the Bay Rivers District two years ago, Holmes missed the 2016 season with an injury but began making up for lost time with a big performance in the Lions’ 28-21 season-opening upset of Heritage.
Against Poquoson, Holmes ran for 114 yards on 14 carries, had solo tackles or assists on perhaps five tackles for loss and blocked the punt that set up Warhill’s only touchdown. He stands 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds. He is fast, strong, football-savvy and possesses a nonstop motor — traits that should draw recruiting attention.
“That kid’s a hell of an athlete,” Poquoson coach Elliott Duty said. “Some Division I school like a James Madison or an FCS will want him as a linebacker.
“Please tell me he’s a senior.”
He’s not. Holmes is a junior and should help Warhill continue its football rise for another 1 1/2 seasons.
3. Hampton and Phoebus stand in elite company.
Both the Crabbers and Phantoms moved to 5-0 with wins Friday, Hampton 31-0 against Kecoughtan and Phoebus 25-7 at Lake Taylor, which leaves the pair alone atop the Peninsula District standings.
With their undefeated status, they also stand in an elite tier in their VHSL groups.
Hampton is one of four unbeaten teams in Class 5, alongside Broad Run, Hermitage and Stone Bridge, and is the only unbeaten left in Region 5A.
Phoebus is one of four unbeaten teams in Class 3, alongside Norcom, Monticello and Staunton River. The Phantoms must contend with Norcom in Region 3A, so a faceoff in the regional final could be brewing.
4. The playoffs start now for Gloucester.
The Dukes have won their last three games, which marks their first winning streak of such length since 2000. If they want to make their first postseason appearance since 1988, though, the streak cannot end there.
Gloucester missed out on the playoffs last year with a 4-6 record.
While Warwick did squeeze into a No. 8 seed ahead of Gloucester at 4-6 last season, a 5-5 season would almost guarantee a spot in Region 5A’s eight-team bracket.
The road to a .500 record, though, will prove tricky. The Dukes stand at 3-3, and they will end their season as steep underdogs in back-to-back games against Phoebus and Hampton.
To get to the five-win mark, Gloucester will have to continue its winning streak through the next two games, against Warwick and Menchville.
If the Dukes do so, they will claim the program’s longest winning streak since joining the Peninsula District in 1990.
5. York wins the Charlie Hovis trophy.
When York County schools Bruton, Grafton, Tabb and York play, they keep standings and hand out a trophy to the team with the best record in their round-robin. This year it goes to York, which finished 3-0 against county rivals by beating Grafton 42-6 Friday.
The trophy is, fittingly, named after late York and Tabb head coach Charlie Hovis, best-known for guiding Tabb to state championships in 1981, ’87 and ’90. The Falcons reclaimed the trophy after Grafton won it a year ago.
York got a huge effort from Cole Lytle, who had two interceptions, returning one for a touchdown, and had seven receptions.
Offensively, Troy Norman had a long touchdown catch, Kieston Hutcherson ran the ball well and the offensive line had one of its best performances of the season.
“It’s a very big deal,” York coach Doug Pereira said of winning the Hovis Trophy. “It’s a goal we talk about every single year.
“The kids demanded of themselves that they sweep the county this year, and they did.”
Yanchulis can be reached by phone at 757-298-5176. Follow her on Twitter @KYanchulis.