Phillips

Offense wins IHSA football games...defense wins championships

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NBC Sports Chicago

Offense wins IHSA football games...defense wins championships

Every once in a while I come up with a decent idea for our weekly @NBCSPreps live Twitter segment— like this week's topic: “What are the top defenses that are still alive in the IHSA state playoff field?”

However, sometimes these "great" ideas become a bit harder the longer you look at them. This was definitely the case with this week's segment. 

While we only are allowed to list 13 teams for consideration for these segments (due to space restrictions) I came up with at least a handful of other teams who also could make the final cut of what was shown on the big board. 

Look, any team that makes it to the second round of the playoffs is good and they, more than likely, have a good defense. 

But in my mind, it's much more than just points allowed that separates the very good from the great defenses. 

For me, a great defense is a mindset. It's an attitude. A swagger. And they’re all present in that unit's play for each down.

An example? 

Warren Township’s entire defense plays with a mindset and a mentality that they are going to destroy everyone in front of them. And over the past two years in particular, in more cases than not, the Blue Devils defense has succeeded. Sure, Warren has also has its share of marquee names, starting with Iowa State commit DT Willis Singleton Jr., senior LB Juan Delacruz and junior LB Malachi McNeal. That said, the unit as a whole here is simply stronger than the individual parts. 

There are several other top teams left in Class 8A that are right there with the top defenses across the state. Take Loyola. 
The Ramblers also take on that same mindset and the personality mentioned above. Loyola coach John Holocek has a defense that, year in and year our, keep them in every game this season. The consistency over the years has been something to behold.

Lincoln-Way East head coach Rob Zvonar just seems to reload year in and year out with a brand new group of talented, speedy and highly intelligent kids on the Griffins‘ defense. Of course, having elite talent helps. East features two D-1 defensive ends in Adrain Wilson (Bowling Green) and Sean McLaughlin (Northwestern). The remainder of the Griffins’ defense is more kids who are simply  blue collar types— unheralded names who just show up and grind week in and week out. 

Then there is Glenbard West. Chad Hetlet's defense is nicknamed “The Hitters.” What else do you need to know? The Hitters play with a combination of speed and physicality you just don't see very often. When Hetlet's defense performs to his lofty standards, you can guarantee football in Glen Ellyn well into late November. 

While South Elgin (9-1) is still searching for respect from a rankings standpoint (keep those emails and DM's coming, fans) and while head coach Dragan Teonic teams have been more known for having a wide open offense, the Storm's defense in 2019 has been equally as strong than the offense. If you allow just 45 points in 10 games like the South Elgin defense has, I couldn’t care less about the teams you’ve played. Your defense is exceptional. 

In Class 7A alone you have teams such as Phillips, Mount Carmel, Willowbrook and Lake Zurich who all feature terrific defenses week in and week out. In Class 6A, while downstate Glenwood (10-0) has an offense that seems to get the hype, did you realize that the Titans ‘D has allowed just 105 points in 10 games so far this season? 

We can debate this all day and night long and that's fine. But all I know is that teams with the best defenses will be holding first place trophies on Thanksgiving weekend at NIU. 
 

Seventh heaven? Phillips elects to play 7A football

Seventh heaven? Phillips elects to play 7A football

Chicago's Phillips Academy (4-0), who is currently state-ranked in Class 6A, will play this season and next in Class 7A according to the IHSA and its recently published IHSA State Playoff Weekly Outlook. The rundown was updated and released earlier Monday on the IHSA website

The Wildcats are the only football team in the state that has petitioned "up" to play in a higher class.

"The IHSA reached out to us a few weeks ago," Phillips head coach Troy McAllister said. "They planned to void our last year of petitioning up to play in 6A because of the district system that is coming. So we were given the option of staying and playing at our current enrollment level or reapplying to move up again for another two years. We feel that playing in 7A is where we want to be  as a program. We want to play in 7A for several reasons including playing in the 1-32 true seeding system and 7A also features several state powerhouse programs. We believe that's where we want to be as a football program. We just felt as a staff that the time to make this move is now."

Phillips, listed with an enrollment of 575 students on the IHSA website, is the only Chicago Public League team in the history of the IHSA state football playoff system schools to win a state football title. The Wildcats won a Class 4A title in 2015 and a 5A state title in 2017. They volunteered to play "up" in enrollment last season to Class 6A and lost to Cary-Grove in the 6A state quarterfinal round. 

A move up starting this season for the Wildcats from 6A to 7A would now put Phillips in the same class as defending 7A state champion Nazareth Academy along with state-ranked Mount Carmel, Batavia. Glenbard West and Brother Rice.
 

13 Days to Kickoff: Phillips

13 Days to Kickoff: Phillips

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Aug. 5, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 30.

School: Phillips

Head coach: Troy McAllister

How they fared in 2018: 9-3 (5-0 CPL Illini Land of Lincoln Conference). Phillips made the Class 6A state playoff field and defeated Lake Forest and Prairie Ridge. They advanced for the quarterfinal round and lost to Cary-Grove.

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 31 @ Cass Tech (MI)
Sept. 7 vs St. Mary (MO) at East St. Louis
Sept. 13 vs Taft
Sept. 20 vs Raby
Sept. 27 @ Morgan Park (Gately Stadium)
Oct. 5 @ Simeon (Gately Stadium)
Oct. 11 vs Lane Tech
Oct. 19 @ Westinghouse
Oct. 25 @ Lincoln Park (at Lane Tech)

Biggest storyline: Phillips has gone from a Public League also-ran to a program with annual state title aspirations. Can the two-time state champion Wildcats get back into the 6A playoff field and make a deeper run this November?

Names to watch this season: S Robert Pledger (Sr., Western Michigan) OL/DL Demerick Morris (Sr., Temple)

Biggest holes to fill: The Wildcats will bring back an experienced team this season after playing a ton of underclassmen in 2018. The biggest hole is more from a leadership standpoint with the graduation losses of WR/DB Fabian McCray (NIU) and DB Joseph Thompson (Illinois), both of whom were long time varsity starters. 

EDGY's Early Take: Phillips (4A-sized enrollment) and head coach Troy McAllister volunteered to "move up" to Class 6A level last season and also this season. The Wildcats will bring back big group of returning starters who saw significant playing time last season.

While they came up short last season with a 6A quarterfinals loss to Cary-Grove, look for the Wildcats to again challenge everyone who comes their way in the Chicago Public League. They’ll have to be road warriors the first two weeks, as they take on marquee competition from out of state. The Oct. 5 date vs. Simeon is a must-see. The 6A playoff field will have to be wary of Phillips.