By J. Coyden Palmer, Chicago Crusader
The Phillips Wildcats’ attempt to defend their Class 4A division football title ended last week after a 23-20 loss in overtime to Johnsburg High School. The Johnsburg Skyhawks (13-0) from northeast McHenry County had previously lost to Phillips in the state playoffs for two consecutive years.
But this time the third time was indeed the charm. It was not an easy win as both teams left everything they had on the field. Adam Jayko’s 25-yard field goal for Johnsburg on their first possession was the difference in the game, as the Skyhawks sacked quarterback J’Bore Gibbs on Phillips’ OT possession ending the game. “All the time you think that, and as a kicker you dream of these moments,” said Jayko after his game-winning heroics.
Kamari Mosby led Phillips with 251 yards rushing on 39 carries and two touchdowns. But the Wildcats committed three fumbles and had a rash of penalties that hurt them, even though they outplayed Johnsburg for much of the game.
“This one hurts because we beat ourselves more than anything else,” said Phillips Coach Troy McAllister. “But you have to give the other team credit, they took advantage of our mistakes during regulation time and came up with the defensive stance they needed in overtime to beat us.”
Phillips arrived to the game late because of heavy traffic, which delayed the start by 15 minutes. McAllister said that delay put his team behind the eight-ball from the start. He said teams have a routine and sometimes when the routine is thrown off, it affects the play on the field. “I think it contributed to our sloppy play on the field,” he said. “We made some uncharacteristic mistakes and unfortunately it happened in the state semifinals.”
Despite the loss, for the third year in a row Phillips will bring home a trophy from the state playoffs, something no other Public League team has been able to do. That is something McAllister said is good for the program and for the Public League in general.
Phillips (11-2) finished with 448 total yards to the Skyhawks’ 131. Phillips’ speed advantage on both sides of the ball kept Johnsburg in check. But the turnovers by the Wildcats came during critical junctures in the game and deep in their own territory, shortening the field for easy scores for Johnsburg.