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State Champions at Last!

PHILLIPS HOLDS UP the 2015 4A state championship trophy won on November 27 making the Wildcats the first Public League team to do so. (Photo by Robert Earl)

Phillips Makes History by Becoming First CPS State Football Champs

It took 42 years and a few just misses, but the Phillips Wildcats became the first Public League team to win a state championship after defeating Althoff Catholic 51-7 in the Class 4A championship Nov. 27 at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb. The Wildcats finished the season 14-0 and came home to a heroes’ welcome at the Bronzeville school on Monday. Congratulations poured in from around the city for the school, which five years ago underwent a major restructuring in academic curriculum and teaching staff.

“It’s everything we thought it would be,” said Head Coach Troy McCallister on the celebrations. “You can tell it has been a weight lifted off the city school’s back and we’re proud to be the ones who did it for so many others who had gotten so close.”

Phillips won in dominating fashion as they had done all year. They scored 51 unanswered points after falling behind early 7-0. Using their superior speed and offensive blocking scheme to run all over Althoff, the Wildcats were led as they have been all season by senior quarterback Quavon Skanes. He finished the game with four rushing touchdowns on 13 carries and threw for another score. The University of Connecticut recruit said he wanted to make his final prep game a memorable one.

“I’ll never play with this group of guys ever again and I wanted to enjoy it,” Skanes said. “This is a lifetime memory I will never forget and neither will any of the other guys. This win meant a lot to us and a lot of alumni.”

What makes the win more remarkable are the challenges the players and coaching staff at Phillips face on a daily basis. The team practices with only footballs and pads because the school cannot afford traditional football equipment like blocking sleds, tackling dummies and other essentials. The players also live in various neighborhoods that come with their own dangers. Principal Matt Sullivan said when you put in all those factors, in addition to them being students, what they accomplished is inspirational on so many levels.

“The players have an hour study hall after school,” Sullivan began. “They then get their pads and walk down to Mandrake Park to practice for two hours, walk back and get on public transportation, maybe two buses or a train, go home and finish homework. Then they come back and do it all again.”

Several of the current senior class will be playing football on the collegiate level next fall. Phillips also has a crop of good juniors who will try to defend the title next year. But for now they are in full celebration mode.

“State champs baby! I mean what more can we say,” said Kamari Mosby, who rushed for 151 yards and a TD in the game. “We’ve had a great season the last two years and this is the perfect way to end it.”

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