Phillips dominates Dunlap, wins Class 5A title

SHARE Phillips dominates Dunlap, wins Class 5A title
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Phillips holds up the Class 5A trophy at Huskie Stadium. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

DEKALB—It took a few years, but the transformation from unlikely underdog to turnover chain-wearing powerhouse is complete. Phillips doesn’t fit the Cinderella narrative any longer, coach Troy McAllister has built a juggernaut.

The Wildcats beat Dunlap 33-7 on Saturday at Huskie Stadium. Anthony Davis ripped off a 64-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and Phillips was never challenged after that.

“Getting the early lead makes a huge difference for us, it changes everything,” McAllister said. “Offensively we are able to do things that help us win a ballgame.”

Running back/linebacker Craig Elmore sported the turnover chain, a large gold “P” dangling around his neck. The senior recovered a fumble and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown late in the first quarter that made it 14-0. He added a one-handed interception later in the game.

“I actually tried to swat the ball down, I didn’t think it was going to land in my hand like that,” Elmore said. “It was an amazing feeling, I did a spin move and was able to stay on my feet.

The Elmore brothers have officially cemented a lasting legacy in Public League football. Elmore and his older brother Chris both played on the Phillips team that won the Public League’s first state title in 2015.

“I shed a few tears after the game, but it was all in joy,” Craig Elmore said.

Elmore had 18 carries for 77 yards and two touchdowns.

“Having a guy like Craig to hand the ball off to covers up a lot of mistakes,” McAllister said. “And the senior leadership you can’t say enough about it. I know it’s a cliche but having J’Bore [Gibbs] and [Elmore] at quarterback and running back makes a huge difference, it just does. The pressure of games, the situations that arrive. The coaches were more flustered than the players.”

Gibbs was 11 for 23 for 130 yards and one touchdown. Jahleel Billingsley caught five passes for 22 yards. All-Area linebacker Terrance Taylor was a dominant force with seven tackles and three sacks for the Wildcats (14-0).

A dozen Public League football programs folded during this season, generating a flood of negative headlines. But thanks to Phillips’ state title and Raby’s run to the Class 4A state semifinals, this will be remembered as one of the city’s best football seasons.

“There are going to be programs that don’t survive,” McAllister said. “But the talent is there for CPS football to have an opportunity, in any number of classes, to be state champs.”

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