Hampton (Va.) Phoebus and Hampton (Va.) High have plenty of similarities entering Friday night's national Game of the Week.
The teams are a combined 14-0. (Both 7-0.)
The teams have combined to outscore their opponents 690-55. (Phoebus has scored 344 points and given up 22; Hampton has scored 346 and given up 33.)
Both are ranked in the Top 10 in the state. (Phoebus No. 1, Hampton No. 7.)
Phoebus has the nation's second-longest win streak at 37 games. (Hampton is the last team from the division to defeat them.)
Rivals? Yes. Bitter rivals? Well, apparently not.
Phoebus coach Stan Sexton said that this week will be nothing out of the ordinary for his team.
"The way we practice and prepare doesn't change," he said. "The kids may be a little more vocal or a little more spirited but we run them the same way."
And Sexton scrutinized the team the same, too.
"I am on the phone with you and watching practice tape from yesterday," he said. "And I see plays that I am not happy with. We have to get better."
Getting better is a scary thought for the opponents of Phoebus.
The Phantoms have been a nationally-elite team each of the past three seasons: They finished No. 3 in the 2008 final RivalsHigh 100, No. 19 in 2009, and currently are No. 6 in the country.
Sexton admits this game is a rivalry, but to him, it is still just one game.
"Our biggest game of the season is this week," he said. "Then our biggest game of the season is next week. Against whoever we play. We have to get past this one to make the next one mean anything."
His team will play Newport News (Va.) Denbigh next week. But don't be confused, the measurement of where the Phantoms are as a team will come against the Crabbers.
"They are a very good team," Sexton said. "They will present some problems for us defensively and we will need to force them into some long situations."
Not many teams have presented much of an obstacle for Phoebus in its recent run of success.
The 22 points it has allowed so far this season is about right. It only allowed 92 points all of last season, and just 53 in 2008.
The main problem facing the Phantoms is that the game will be like looking into a mirror.
Hampton is a team with a mobile quarterback and physical running backs. And while the offenses may not be perfect replicas, the intent to dominate the line of scrimmage and run the ball is certainly the key to the game.
"They have speed on defense, just like we do, and they are physical up front, just like us," Sexton said.
The similarities continue.
"We know going in that we will be playing a good team that will be ready to play," he said. "But we take each game like that."
When: Friday 10/22, 7:00 p.m.
Last Meeting: 10/23/09, Phoebus won 17-0
Rankings: Phoebus (7-0), No. 1 in Virginia
Hampton (7-0), No. 7 in Virginia
PHOEBUS WINS IF: The Phantoms do work out the kinks. Coach Sexton has pointed out that his team has struggled to win (as he expects them to do) the past few weeks. If that is more than just coach speak - and there are actually a few chinks in the armor - Hampton is a team capable of exploiting them. The Phantoms have dominated the recent series, but with several of the nation's longest winning streaks ending this season, it just may be the year the Crabbers get over on Phoebus again.
HAMPTON WINS IF: It can gain momentum early. Phoebus is a team that gains steam and has a killer instinct. Once the Phantoms smell blood, they attack. If Hampton can throw and land the first punch, it will be more interesting to see if Phoebus has the character to come from behind. Hampton needs to come out firing early and steal momentum.
PREDICTION: It is tough to pick against any team in the Top 10 nationally, but this is a game that can go either way. Both teams take pride in protecting the ball and playing tenacious defense. And the Crabbers will not be intimidated by Phoebus, which certainly wins some games just by getting off the bus. This figures to be a low-scoring game that's decided early. - Phoebus 16, Hampton 6