Wade Phillips continued to run like crazy last weekend. And he continued to do it quietly.
The Edgewood High School junior running back is known to be a kid of many yards and few words. Simply put, it works for him.
“He’s not very talkative,” Cougars coach Scott Clemmons confirmed. “He’s that way playing football, he’s that way in the classroom. He’s not a very see-me young man. Never says anything, never complains, very humble.”
The 5-foot-11, 170-pound Phillips made school history last Friday at Northwest with a single-game-record five rushing touchdowns in a 48-12 victory.
Phillips ran 21 times for 276 yards.
“I was just playing the game I love. That’s the way I’ve been playing it since I was little,” he said. “I owe it all to my O-line. They fly around, hit people and drive ’em. I just run through the holes that they make.”
Jon Elder holds the Edgewood record for most touchdowns in a game with six. He rushed for four TDs and caught two scoring passes from Justin Bennett in a 62-26 win at Norwood on Oct. 20, 2006.
Phillips is leading the Southwest Ohio Conference on the ground with 604 yards and eight touchdowns on 62 carries. The No. 2 runner in the SWOC, Little Miami’s Lucas Patten, has 255 yards.
“That’s pretty surreal, but I try not to focus on that. I focus on winning and the team,” Phillips said. “My first goal was just to start varsity this year. I made that happen, so now I’m just going out and playing as hard as I can.”
He did most of his running at the junior varsity level in 2016. Phillips did get some varsity time, gaining 60 yards on 12 rushes.
“You could see his approach to the game and his mental toughness in the summer,” said Clemmons, noting Phillips’ success as a track runner in the spring. “We were going to find a place on the field for him. That running back spot is the one that opened up, and that’s what he naturally played anyway.
“Wade’s one of those attention-to-detail young men. He’s very engaged in all the drills and listening to the coaches talk about the patience of the running back and trusting the O-line. He is very patient with the ball, but when he gets that seam, he’s a very elusive runner.”
Barring injury, Phillips appears to be well on his way to becoming the Cougars’ first 1,000-yard rusher since Matt Barger piled up 1,288 yards in 2012.
Phillips will no doubt be a key figure Friday night when Edgewood (3-1) welcomes Harrison (3-1) to Kumler Field for an important SWOC football affair.
The Cougars are averaging 309.5 yards per game on the ground and have fullback Elijah Williams returning from an injury this week, giving the EHS Wing-T backfield even more firepower.
Edgewood’s offensive line includes tackles Logan Young (6-2, 220) and Isaac Hamilton (6-1, 205), guards Andy Weaver (6-1, 235) and Seth Phipps (6-1, 245), center Ian Bietenduvel (6-1, 195) and tight end Kory McCall (6-3, 200).
Harrison likes to travel by air. Senior quarterback Frankie Young (6-3, 200) is 71 of 110 for 1,005 yards and six touchdowns with five interceptions.
“We’re going to do what we do well, and right now what we do well is him chucking it to receivers,” first-year Wildcats coach Derek Rehage said. “Edgewood runs that Wing-T to perfection almost. They’re going to be loads for us to handle.”
Rehage ran the HHS defense the last two years and became the head coach when Kent McCullough left for Turpin.
Both these teams have considerable offensive ability. In a matchup like that, it typically comes down to which defense can make more plays.
“I really do believe that,” Rehage said. “I think whoever makes a play in the fourth quarter is going to walk out with a W.”
Senior outside linebacker Austin Silcox (6-3, 215) and senior middle linebacker Logan Weber (5-10, 190) lead the Wildcats’ defense, which features eight seniors. Harrison blanked Ross 31-0 last Friday after getting hammered 45-3 by Anderson in Week 3.
“You can tell they’re still Harrison in that they’re still very big and very physical,” Clemmons said. “They have nice, thick, strong boys that will fly around and hit you.”