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Wendell Phillips Academy Football Coach on State Finals: 'Truly a Blessing'

By Justin Breen | November 26, 2014 4:34pm
 Wendell Phillips Academy plays in Friday night's IHSA Class 4A state championship game against Rochester.
Wendell Phillips Academy plays in Friday night's IHSA Class 4A state championship game against Rochester.
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BRONZEVILLE — Wendell Phillips Academy football head coach Troy McAllister knows his team is on the verge of history, and ESPN's SportsCenter might want to profile the Wildcats.

McAllister's Wildcats are a win away from becoming the first Chicago Public League football team to ever win an IHSA state championship.

Phillips (12-1) faces four-time defending champion Rochester (11-2) at 7 p.m. Friday at Champaign's Memorial Stadium in the Class 4A championship game. The game can be seen live on Comcast SportsNet and IHSA.TV.

An ESPN official on Wednesday night told DNAinfo Chicago that, if Phillips wins Friday, McAllister will be interviewed for the network's SportsCenter show on Saturday morning.

The IHSA football playoffs, which began in 1974, have seen only one other CPL squad reach the state finals. Robeson's 1982 club lost the Class 5A title to Rockford Guilford.

"It's almost impossible to believe with the talent and coaches that are in the city that there's never been a state champion," McAllister said Wednesday afternoon. "But when you see the resources that are available to many Public League schools, you see there's a problem.

"All these Catholic League and private schools have their own stadiums, and that's not the case with a lot of Public League teams. It's not an excuse — you have to overcome it — but it is a big disadvantage," he said.

McAllister said the Wildcats will have a 10 a.m. practice on Thanksgiving and leave for Champaign Friday morning.

He said the school and entire city have been extremely supportive during the Wildcats' run to the state finals.

"The team is so appreciative of the whole school, our alumni, the city of Chicago and our parents," McAllister said. "It’s been an unbelievable last few weeks, and the outpouring of support has been incredible.

"We’re really focused on the young men we have and helping them achieve something that’s never been done before," McAllister added. "For them to have this opportunity to achieve this level of success is truly a blessing."

Phillips is led by quarterback DeWayne Collins, who has 1,370 yards passing with 22 touchdowns and only five interceptions. He's also rushed for 1,843 yards and 20 TDs. Quayvon Skanes had 40 receptions for 977 yards and 12 scores.

On defense, Amani Jones had 101 tackles, Chris Elmore has 13 sacks, and Jamal Brown had 84 tackles, six interceptions and three fumble recoveries.

Rochester is led by quarterback Dan Zeigler, who threw for 1,874 yards and 20 touchdowns in the regular season.

"They're really good. They're big, fast, physical and well-coached, and that's a really good combination," McAllister said. "We just hope we're a little bit faster and a little bit stronger."

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