• 46°

Friday Night Hero: West Rowan’s KaJuan Phillips

By Mike London
mlondon@salisburypost.com
MOUNT ULLA ó Before West Rowan’s wild 39-36 win against Davie County on Friday, the average sports fan had no idea what “KaJuan” was.
A new energy drink?
The capital of Uzbekistan?
One of Saturn’s 61 moons and moonlets?
None of the above.
Now we know. KaJuan Phillips is a senior wide receiver for the Falcons, and he’s not just taking up space opposite Jon Crucitti.
West had need of numerous offensive heroes to deal with Davie in the annual shootout between the neighbors. Phillips ó the new K.P. ó was a difference-maker. He hauled in five receptions for 92 yards and one TD. He also forced two yellow flags for pass interference that didn’t show up in his receiving stats.
In a way, Phillips, listed at 6 feet, 170 pounds, has come out of nowhere his senior year. In a way, he hasn’t.
West coaches have known all along he could play.
“I had a lot of success my sophomore year in football on the jayvees, but I was also involved a lot in AAU basketball,” Phillips said. “I didn’t play football my junior year, but my step-dad told me I really needed to get back out there.”
By not being out there, Phillips missed out on 15 victories and a ring ceremony honoring the 3A state champions.
“KaJuan realized he made a mistake,” West head coach Scott Young said. “He’s been working hard since he decided to come back to football last spring. He’s had strong practices. In some of the 7-on-7 things we did during the summer, he showed flashes and glimpses of being a really good player.”
West receivers coach Butch Browning was confident Phillips would be a factor. He liked to block and he didn’t drop passes.
“We knew he’d be an asset,” Browning said. “He was someone who would give teams a threat to think about on the other side from Crucitti. If KaJuan can get to it, he’ll catch it.”
The first tangible reward for months of behind-the scenes sweat came in West’s 33-6 victory against Northwest Cabarrus in Week 2. Phillips had just one catch, but it was an 11-yard TD.
“My first TD,” Phillips said. “I was pretty happy.”
West coaches showed their growing faith in Phillips by making him an integral part of the gameplan for Davie.
“We saw he’d be matched up most of the time with Davie’s No. 9 (5-9, 150-pound Teddy Allen),” West QB B.J. Sherrill said. “We thought KaJuan could take advantage of the size difference.”
He did. Trailing 21-14 in the second quarter, West faced a critical fourth-and-1 at the Davie 35. Phillips drew a pass-interference flag on a rout over the middle for a first down. On the next snap, Sherrill spotted Phillips in the right corner for a 20-yard TD.
Phillips drew another flag in the third quarter to set up first-and-goal at the 9. Crucitti scored on the next play for a 26-21 lead.
Finally, on the drive that put West ahead to stay, Phillips caught back-to-back passes from Sherrill for 23 and 12 yards.
“We hit good plays and they held onto me some,” Phillips said. “It was a good game, with everyone playing as hard as they could. There was a lot of contact. I like contact.”
After he helped West win its school-record 17th straight game, Phillips is no longer anonymous. He ranks fourth in the county with 103 receiving yards.
“KaJuan’s earned himself a place as our solid No. 2 receiver, and with a lot of teams giving Crucitti special attention, KaJuan should have success,” Young said. “He has decent speed, decent size and a real good set of hands.”
With Brantley Horton graduated, Crucitti’s glad to have a new partner.
“It took KaJuan a game or two to get back into football mentally, but he came through Friday,” Crucitti said. “He’s gonna be fine.”

Comments

Comments closed.

Local

Lane, ramp closures scheduled for I-85 in Salisbury

Crime

Blotter: March 8

Ask Us

Ask Us: How can homebound seniors be vaccinated?

Local

Political Notebook: Interim health director to talk COVID-19 at county Democrats breakfast

Local

‘Their names liveth forevermore:’ Officials dedicate Fire Station No. 6 to fallen firefighters Monroe, Isler

Crime

Blotter: Salisbury man charged for breaking into Salisbury High, getting juvenile to help

Nation/World

With virus aid in sight, Democrats debate filibuster changes

Local

City officials differ on how, what information should be released regarding viral K-9 officer video

High School

High school basketball: Carson girls are 3A champions

Lifestyle

High school, college sweethearts marry nearly 50 years later

Local

With jury trials set to resume, impact of COVID-19 on process looms

Legion baseball

Book explores life of Pfeiffer baseball coach Joe Ferebee

Education

Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education to receive update on competency-based education

Business

Biz Roundup: Kannapolis expects to see economic, housing growth continue in 2021

Business

A fixture of downtown Salisbury’s shopping scene, Caniche celebrates 15th anniversary this month

Local

Slate of new officers during local GOP convention; Rev. Jenkins becomes new chair

Landis

Landis officials narrow search for new manager to five candidates; expect decision within a month

Lifestyle

Together at last: High school, college sweethearts marry nearly 50 years later

Education

Rowan-Salisbury Schools sorts out transportation logistics in preparation for full-time return to classes

High School

Photo gallery: Carson goes undefeated, wins 3A state championship

Nation/World

Europe staggers as infectious variants power virus surge

Nation/World

Biden, Democrats prevail as Senate OKs $1.9 trillion virus relief bill

Nation/World

Senate Democrats strike deal on jobless aid, move relief bill closer to approval

News

Duke Life Flight pilot may have shut down wrong engine in fatal crash