The Dobyns-Bennett graduate has found his place at Emory & Henry, where he has excelled on the football field for the Wasps’ defensive unit.
“It’s more like a job in college,” Phillips, a sophomore, said of the transition from playing football at the high school level to the collegiate ranks. “But it’s a job that you love and you want to do.”
Phillips’ freshman season last year was where he saw the biggest transition in his game. This year, he’s taking full advantage of his starting opportunity at linebacker.
“It’s been outstanding how much he has improved from last year to this year,” E&H coach Curt Newsome said of Phillips. “He’s a true leader. He plays hard and is a very physical player. He has gotten so much better.”
Heading into Saturday’s home Old Dominion Athletic Conference game against conference-leading Bridgewater (7-0, 5-0), Phillips leads Emory & Henry (5-2, 4-1) in tackles with 47. He also has six tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Phillips is not concerned with his individual numbers on the field. Instead, he said the success for him and for the team has been the family atmosphere that Newsome and the Wasps coaching staff instills into the program.
“The defense works as a brotherhood,” said Phillips. “This is more than just a team. This is a family, and everyone on the team is a part of it. I’ve been looking for a place that would be a family, and this is the place.”
The family atmosphere goes beyond the E&H coaches and team, Phillips said.
“The whole community is involved,” he said. “There’s good attendance at the game, and that’s because the whole community supports the team.”
Phillips and his team will face a tough test this weekend against Bridgewater. The Eagles come to Emory averaging 423 yards and 41.1 points per game.
E&H’s offense will also face a tough challenge. The Wasps are averaging 41.6 points and 429 yards per game heading into Saturday’s 1 p.m. contest.
Bridgewater’s defense comes into the contest after holding three straight opponents under 200 yards.
HOMECOMING FOR THE CAVS
After four road trips in five weekends, Virginia-Wise is back home at Carl Smith Stadium on Saturday for homecoming. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.
The Cavaliers (1-7, 0-6) host Limestone (2-6, 1-4) in a South Atlantic Conference contest.
Despite seven straight losses, UVa-Wise showed some promise last weekend against NCAA DII No. 12 Wingate.
The Cavaliers had a season-high 343 yards, and quarterback Tanner Bernard passed for a season-best 261 yards. Cavalier receiver Mykael Anderson had a career-high nine passes for 113 yards.
Limestone quarterback D.J. Phillips leads the SAC in passing yards with 1,490.
The Saints ground game is led by running back Jerko’ya Patton, who had 688 yards rushing in eight contests.