A state championship and national ranking for a Virginia high school football program have been diminished by the school's admission that five of its players stole from another school's players immediately after being handed the championship trophy.
In a letter to a handful of media outlets, No. 20 Phoebus (Va.) High's coach Stan Sexton apologized for the actions of "five individuals that put themselves before the team." According to allegations that first surfaced on VirginiaPreps.com and the Washington Post, Phoebus players stole cell phones and iPods from players for Battlefield (Va.) High, which was on the field preparing for it's Division 6 state championship game while Phoebus players were celebrating their Division 5 title in the same locker room.
"They came in after they won their game all excited, talking to us [and] saying good luck, and once we left, they stole everything out of our bags," one Battlefield player told the Washington Post on Tuesday. "A couple of guys checked [their bags] because [the Phoebus players] acted kind of weird. [...] A [game administrator] wouldn't let them leave until we got all our stuff back."
Because none of the stolen items were kept by the players who stole them, Battlefield's Athletic Director, Ben Stutler, said his school considered the matter closed.
Still, Sexton felt obligated to respond to the allegations being made against his program personally, which led to his letter to the media.
Please try to hold your judgment on Phoebus football due to five individuals that put themselves before the team.
My staff did a remarkable job returning ALL items taken.
I greatly appreciate our fans here on virginiapreps.com and hrvarsity.com.
I will do my best to do what it takes to repair our reputation here at Phoebus and try to regain the respect that has been lost due to this incident.
To all of our fans you are the BEST and I am deeply sorry that we have disappointed you.
While Phoebus was dealing with a hornet's nest of controversy, another Hampton Roads school was celebrating keeping its coach, despite a lucrative offer to become the new offensive coordinator at Hampton University. Oscar Smith (Va.) High coach Richard Morgan cited the ability to spend more time with his family as a key determinant in why he decided to remain as the program's head coach rather than jump into college football.
"If I was 30 years old, that's easy," Morgan told the Virginian-Pilot. "But with four little kids, they need to be your primary focus. I really don't feel like missing their baseball games, their softball games and soccer games. And sometimes in college football you have to sacrifice those things."