Phillips is stone-cold focused on Marengo. The Wildcats ended practice Thursday with a rousing pep talk focused on the visitors from the north, who travel to Gately Stadium for the Class 4A state semifinals on Saturday.
“We don’t know much about them,” Phillips quarterback Quayvon Skanes said. “But we know they can both run and pass the ball and have a couple good ballplayers on the team.”
Skanes and his teammates took a little time out after practice to celebrate their domination of the 2015 Sun-Times All-Public League football team. Seven Wildcats made the cut: Skanes, Kamari Mosby, Daurice Lee, Chris Elmore, Amir Watts, Amani Jones and Donald Gardner.
For Daurice Lee, the honor could help open up some opportunities.
“I have some colleges interested in me but I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet,” Lee said. “This should help get my name out there some more.”
Skanes, a Connecticut recruit, had a ton of pressure on his back this season. He hadn’t played quarterback since grade school, but was tasked with leading the Wildcats to the Public League’s first state title. Whatever happens over the next two games, Skanes has surpassed most expectations. He was the most dynamic player in the Public League this season.
“I worked hard to live up to all that,” Skanes said. “I can’t say I knew I was going to do it, but I’m proud that I have gotten us this far.”
Skanes has been effective in the air, 32-for-60 for 454 yards with 10 touchdowns and four interceptions. He’s been a weapon on the ground, rushing 116 times for 1,109 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also returned to his old receiver position to grab three passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns.
Mosby has been the other driving force of Phillips’ offense. The junior has 199 carries for 2,152 yards and 17 touchdowns. Keep in mind that the Wildcats had most of their regular season games won by halftime.
Curie running back Chris Baldwin was the Public League’s major non-Phillips talent. The senior rushed 156 times for 1,555 yards and 29 touchdowns. The Condors face Simeon Saturday afternoon at Gately in the city championship game, the winner advances to the Prep Bowl.
Payton senior linebacker Mike Kalanik is one of this season’s best stories. He’s the top football player in school history. This season he broke the school record for tackles he set his sophomore year. He’s a three-sport athlete with Ivy League grades. Kalanik has several Ivy League schools interested and an offer from Valparaiso. He’s still open though.
“If I had gone to a school like Mount Carmel the coaches probably would have been more of a factor in getting recruited,” Kalanik said. “I haven’t had coaches say anything bad to me about Public League football. It’s just creating the history and the culture of putting out good football players is a hurdle. The Public League isn’t exactly known for putting out talent like the Catholic League schools.”
The first major step towards creating that history and culture is winning a state championship. That is what rests on Phillips’ shoulders the next two weekends. The Wildcats are managing the pressure well so far.
“Last year we might have gotten a little too wrapped up in the state championship stuff,” Skanes said. “This year we are taking things slower, just one step at a time.”
2015 Sun-Times All-Public League Football Team
QB Quayvon Skanes, Phillips, Sr.
RB Chris Baldwin, Curie, Sr.
RB Kamari Mosby, Phillips, Jr.
WR Amari Freeman, Lincoln Park, Sr.
WR Phillip Powell, King, Sr.
WR Andre Johnson, North Lawndale, Sr.
KR Matthew Cole, Curie, Sr.
KR Travis Powell, Raby, Sr.
OL Keevin Agee, Simeon, Sr.
OL Alfredo Camargo, Curie, Sr.
OL Irie Evans, Payton, Sr.
OL Daurice Lee, Phillips, Jr.
OL Jayvion Brown, Hyde Park, Sr.
K Isaac Reyes, Solorio, Sr.
DL Chris Elmore, Phillips, Jr.
DL Amir Watts, Phillips, Sr.
DL Malik Haynes, Raby, Jr.
DL Jalen Dora, Robeson, Jr.
LB Kywante Shumake, Harper, Sr.
LB Amani Jones, Phillips, Sr.
LB Mike Kalanik, Payton, Sr.
DB Patrick Carney, King, Sr.
DB Octavious Dandridge, Solorio, Jr.
DB Donald Gardner, Phillips, Sr.
DB Hakeem Adebimpe, Perspectives-Calumet, Sr.
P Garvey Gregory, Lindblom, Sr.
PR D’Evian West, DuSable, Jr.