Phillips run to the Class 4A state title last year has permanently draped the football program in glory. The Wildcats became the first Public League team in history to win a state championship.
Saturday at Gately Stadium, the current Phillips squad showed that same poise, skill and determination, knocking off Simeon 34-28 courtesy of a clutch final drive.
J’Bore Gibbs, who has taken over at quarterback for Quayvon Skanes, drove the Wildcats down to the Simeon 6 yard line. Running back Kamari Mosby did the rest, dodging defenders for the game-winning six-yard touchdown with 22 seconds to play.
“It felt so wonderful,” Gibbs said. “I almost cried at the end, that’s how much joy it brought to me. Fighting with my brothers until the end, that’s what it took to win this game. It’s a beautiful experience.”
Gibbs was the Wildcats’ top offensive threat. He finished 14-for-22 for 241 yards passing, including a 78-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Broadnax in the second quarter. Gibbs rushed 15 times for 72 yards and two touchdowns.
Gibbs doesn’t appear to have the same game-breaking, eye-opening speed that Skanes dazzled the state with last year. But he’s a much better passer and a top-notch decision maker.
Mosby finished with 20 carries for 137 yards. Broadnax caught five passes for 148 yards.
Simeon (0-3) led 28-20 after Jayshon Jackson connected with Leon Payne for a 76-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter.
Jackson began the season as the Wolverines’ starting quarterback. That only lasted a half. Sophomore Alante Brown took over in the second half of the opener against Oak Park-River Forest and held the job until he left with an injury late in the first quarter. Jackson filled in admirably on Saturday. He was 6-for-14 for 166 yards passing with one touchdown and rushed 12 times for 34 yards.
Phillips (2-1) tied the game on a three-yard touchdown run from Gibbs. Both teams had stalled drives in the fourth quarter. The Wolverines had a chance to win in the final two minutes, but missed a 35-yard field goal attempt.
“That moment was big,” Gibbs said. “After that I knew we had to destroy them and not give up. That’s all that was in my brain.”
Simeon, which opened the season in the Super 25, hasn’t been able to catch a break this season. The Wolverines comeback bid against Oak Park was thwarted in Week 1 and a late comeback attempt Marist last week fell short.
Arkalius Howard rushed 10 times for 27 yards for Simeon and receiver Leon Payne caught two passes for 116 yards.