9:42 AM EDT, August 30, 2011
We celebrate milestone birthdays and anniversaries. We strive for milestone GPAs and salaries.
But nothing does milestones like sports.
Some are seasonal, others career. But the numbers are indelible.
Baseball's 3,000 hits, football's 2,000 yards and basketball's 100 points. Golf's 18 majors, NASCAR's 200 wins and gymnastics' perfect 10.
As we embark upon the 2011 football season, three milestones merit our attention and, regardless of allegiance, our admiration.
Surely Phoebus faithful can salute Hampton High in the wake of the Crabbers' second Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee.
Certainly Hampton fans can return the courtesy and applaud the Phantoms' decade of excellence.
And yes, even the most devoted Virginia partisan can raise a glass to Frank Beamer as he prepares for his 25th season as Virginia Tech's coach.
I know this isn't easy. From the crib, fans learn to obsess over their team AND wish famine and pestilence upon their blood rival.
But these accomplishments transcend crosstown or intrastate feuds.
We'll start with the Hall of Fame, a milestone for any honoree. Chris Hanburger's induction this month furthers a remarkable Peninsula presence that few, if any, locales of our modest size can surpass.
The former Washington Redskins linebacker gives the region four Hall of Famers, joining Warwick High's Henry Jordan, Hampton's Dwight Stephenson and Lafayette's Lawrence Taylor.
John Ellerson, one of Hanburger's Crabbers teammate, recalls when Hanburger arrived at Hampton High in 1957.
"We were all Army brats," Ellerson said in February when Hanburger was elected to the Hall, "and anytime you came into a new community or football team, you had to work your way into the organization and win acceptance. It wasn't like he was welcomed with open arms.
"He was a junior, and the older guys on the team had established their positions. … But he was such a natural. He was so far above the rest of us. As much as you didn't want him to be good, he was."
All of the Peninsula's Hall of Famers played in at least one Super Bowl. Jordan won two with the Green Bay Packers, LT two with the New York Giants. Stephenson's Miami Dolphins lost two, Hanburger's Redskins one.
Similarly, championships and near-misses define Phoebus' dominance during the last 10 years. Not just of the Peninsula District. Of the Virginia High School League's Division 5.
The Phantoms won their first state title in 2001. They've since added a handful.
That's six state championships in 10 years, a VHSL-record 45 consecutive victories, and counting, and a 128-9 record.
Nine defeats in 10 years! Phoebus loses about as often as Mitt Romney forgets his hair gel.
Stan Sexton's even better. In his two seasons since replacing Bill Dee as head coach, the Phantoms are 30-0. Poor guy, first time he loses they're liable to change the locks on Ireland Street.
The smooth Dee-to-Sexton handoff makes Phoebus' dynasty even more remarkable. Sure, Sexton was an assistant to Dee before serving as Warwick's head coach for four seasons. But the personality and tactical changes inherent with leadership transitions are tricky in any business, especially sports.
As the red-and-black crowd on Queen Street will quickly remind, there is at least one record Phoebus doesn't own: consecutive state championships.
Hampton won four straight from 1995-98, the first three with the incomparable Ronald Curry at quarterback. And the Crabbers were oh-so-close to six in a row.
In 1994, Curry's freshman year, Hampton lost the Eastern Regional final to Deep Creek 48-42 on a 23-yard touchdown pass with three seconds remaining. In 1999, the Crabbers lost a state semifinal to Culpeper 20-17 in overtime.
Similarly, but for a 2007 state semifinal loss to Stone Bridge, Phoebus could be aiming for six straight championships. The Phantoms, defending their 2006 title, squandered a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead in that contest.
"The ones that got away are the ones that drive you the most freakin' crazy," Dee told our Dave Johnson.
That's how coaches are wired, the 64-year-old Beamer included. Rest assured he can recall the agonizing final sequences against Boise State last season more vividly than Virginia Tech's late comeback four weeks later at North Carolina State.
And he's certainly never forgotten the Hokies' 24-40-2 record in his first six seasons. Then, on the eve of the 1993 season, one never would have envisioned Beamer lasting 25 years at his alma mater.
It's stunning longevity for a Bowl Subdivision head coach these days, longer than any current FBS big whistle not named Paterno.
Just gaze around the ACC. Since Virginia Tech joined the conference in 2004, every program except the Hokies and Wake Forest, where Jim Grobe is entering his 11th season, has changed coaches.
Now consider some of the others who spent 25 or more years at one school: Alabama's Bear Bryant, Florida State's Bobby Bowden, Nebraska's Tom Osborne, Georgia's Vince Dooley, Ohio State's Woody Hayes and Brigham Young's LaVell Edwards.
As is Beamer in Blacksburg, and around the state. Eighteen consecutive winning seasons, the last seven with at least 10 victories, do that.
"I've just been a very fortunate person, and I very much realize that," the always understated Beamer said.
Beamer's mentor, former Maryland, Georgia Tech and San Diego Chargers coach Bobby Ross, knows it's much more than good fortune. As head coach of The Citadel in 1973, Ross gave Beamer his full-time coaching job.
"Nothing's he's ever accomplished has surprised me," Ross said from his Richmond home, "because you knew from Day One that Frank would be a good football coach. … He's a legend in this state, though it's still too early to call him a legend. He's got a lot of coaching time left."
And you know what that means: More milestones.
David Teel can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more from Teel, read his blog at dailypress.com/sports/teeltime and follow him at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP