Tyler Turner didn’t play football as an eighth-grader because he wanted to train for his high school career.
But then came a series of events that kept him from doing what he prepared to be: a starting varsity quarterback for a full season.
That opportunity finally arrived this fall and the Phillips senior didn’t waste it. Turner passed for about 2,300 yards with 23 touchdowns and just four interceptions to earn a spot on the All-Public League first team selected by coaches.
He follows in the footsteps of other Wildcats quarterbacks to make first team all-city, including Dewayne Collins and J’Bore Gibbs.
Turner is aware of Phillips’ quarterback legacy.
“I trained with J’Bore,” he said. “[But] I just want to be Tyler Turner and play my game.”
It took a lot longer than he expected.
Turner started his high-school career at Hubbard, where he was projected to be on the varsity as a freshman. But a broken elbow cost him that season.
He transferred to Phillips before his sophomore year. But eligibility issues limited him to playing on the sophomore team. Then came COVID and an abbreviated spring season.
Finally this fall, Turner had a full season to showcase his talent. The Wildcats opened with two lopsided road losses against Batavia and Mount Carmel, but then ran off nine consecutive wins en route to a 9-3 finish. They won the Illini Land of Lincoln title and reached the IHSA quarterfinals for the eighth consecutive postseason.
The season’s turning point for Turner and the Wildcats came in Week 5 against Simeon. Turner threw two touchdown passes to fellow All-City first-teamer Avante Savage, including the game-winner with 10 seconds left, in a 14-12 win.
“We started out [the season] slow,” Turner said. “We started picking up momentum. The Simeon game is where it felt like it was shifting.”
Joe Winslow, the Wildcats’ longtime offensive coordinator who took over as head coach this season, loves Turner’s blue-collar approach.
“He’s just a hard-working kid,” Winslow said. “This year he stayed at my house on weekends. He learned the playbook and threw himself into a leadership role.”
Turner and Savage were among seven first-team picks for Phillips, joining running back Desean Hill, offensive lineman Damien Thomas, defensive linemen Antwon McAdams and Thomas Spaulding and defensive back Jahon Walker.
The 28-member team also includes Nebraska recruit Jalil Martin, a defensive back from Kenwood, and two of the state’s top young prospects: Simeon receiver Malik Elzy, a four-star junior with 14 offers, and Morgan Park running back Tysean Griffin, who has seven offers.
Prep Bowl runner-up Kenwood also is represented by offensive lineman Elijah Matthews, defensive lineman Marquise Lightfoot and linebacker K’Vion Thunderbird.
Simeon also had four first-teamers: Elzy, offensive lineman Jose Manning, linebacker Latrell Scott and defensive back Andre Crews. The other team with at least three first-teamers was Taft: offensive lineman Grzegorz Krupa, linebacker Ryan Porebski and punter Nicholas Moleda.
Brooks had a pair of first-teamers: receiver Cameron Pickett and defensive lineman Chidiebere Anaele. So did Young, with offensive lineman Tomi Bisiryu and kicker Fernando Lozano.
Rounding out the team are: Amundsen receiver Adam Muench, South Shore athlete Kristian Nelson, Hubbard kickoff returner Asean Johnson, Westinghouse linebacker Daveon Shaw and Crane punt returner Darrian Towns.
The All-Public League football team was selected by a committee of Public League coaches and administrators.
2021 Chicago Sun-Times All-Public League Team
QB Tyler Turner, Phillips, Sr.
RB Desean Hill, Phillips, Jr.
RB Tysean Griffin, Morgan Park, So.
WR Malik Elzy, Simeon, Jr
WR Avante Savage, Phillips, Sr.
WR Cameron Pickett, Brooks, Sr.
WR Adam Muench, Amundsen, Jr.
ATH Kristian Nelson, South Shore, Sr.
OL Damien Thomas, Phillips, Sr.
OL Elijah Matthews, Kenwood, Sr.
OL Tomi Bisiriyu, Young, Sr.
OL Grzegorz Krupa, Taft, Jr.
OL Jose Manning, Simeon, Jr.
K Fernando Lozano, Young, Sr.
KR Asean Johnson, Hubbard, Sr.
DL Chidiebere Anaele, Brooks, Sr.
DL Marquise Lighfoot, Kenwood, So.
DL Antwon McAdams, Phillips, Sr.
DL Thomas Spaulding, Phillips, Sr.
LB Ryan Porebski, Taft, Sr.
LB K’Vion Thunderbird, Kenwood, Jr.
LB Latrell Scott, Simeon, Sr.
LB Daveon Shaw, Westinghouse, Sr.
DB Jahon Walker, Phillips, Sr.
DB Andre Crews, Simeon, Jr.
DB Jalil Martin, Kenwood, Sr.
P Nicholas Moleda, Taft, Sr.
PR Darrian Towns, Crane, Jr.
Second Team Offense
QB Aaron Warren, Morgan Park, Sr.
RB Jermaine Robinson, Urban Prep
RB Jaylen Scott, Crane, Sr.
WR Ryan Cruz, Tilden, Jr.
TE Aleksandar Dale, Young, Jr.
ATH Torrence Branch, Corliss, Sr.
ATH Tyler Benjamin, Perspectives, Sr.
ATH Joseph Spaulding, King, Sr.
OL Jaylin Caldwell, Phillips, Sr.
OL Leno Campbell, Dyett, Sr.
OL Devan King, Morgan Park, Sr.
OL Christian Walton, Brooks, So.
K Russell Anglada, Amundsen, Jr.
KR Willie Taylor, Clark, JR.
Second Team Defense
DL Tyler Washington, Hubbard, Jr.
DL Kaleb Robinson, Julian, Sr.
DL Michael Oladipo, Taft, Sr.
DL Joshua Chancellor-Seay, Dyett, Sr.
LB Taveon Carter, Urban Prep, Sr.
LB Elliott Graziano, Payton, Sr.
LB Jonah Irving, Mather, Sr.
LB Jeffrey Wardlow, Corliss, Sr.
DB Diego Oliver, Kenwood, Sr.
DB Anthony Hood, Young, So.
DB Kaymen Coleman, Von Steuben, Sr.
P Jacob Valentin, Steinmetz, Sr.
PR Tyquan Sanders, North Lawndale, Sr.
RB Hector Ramirez, Chicago Academy, Sr.
RB Reginald Fox, Julian, Sr.
WR Demarion Windfield, Westinghouse, Sr.
WR Charlie Newton, Payton, Jr.
WR Shawn Harris, Morgan Park, Sr.
OL Amonte Williams, Kenwood, Sr.
OL Jamal McKenzie, Corliss, Jr.
OL Derrick Gaddy, Crane, Sr.
DB Jaykwon Armour, Phillips, Jr.
DB Cameron Manney, Curie, Sr.
DB Gile Niyomutabazi, Sullivan, Sr.
DB Isaiah Cruz, Taft, Sr.
DL Achoy Stewart, Simeon, Sr.
LB Shauntrel Wilson, Simeon, Sr.
LB Michael Duckins, North Lawndale, Sr.