Prep Football: A.L. Brown 44, Northwest Cabarrus 7
By Josh Hoke
KANNAPOLIS ó The value of A.L. Brown’s offseason discovery is growing with each passing Friday.
Wonders tailback Kalif Phillips has been the team’s principal offensive threat thus far, yet he continues to show that his worth is far greater than what he does as a ball carrier. The dynamic junior rushed for nearly 200 yards and two scores, caught two touchdowns and blocked a punt in a 44-7 win over Northwest Cabarrus Friday.
It was the second straight week that Phillips, who has now surpassed 1,000 rushing yards for the season, caught two touchdowns from Brown quarterback Brandon Eppinger. He now has 15 catches for 336 yards this season, with more than one-third of those yards coming in the last two games.
ěI’m just glad they trust me the catch the ball,î said Phillips, who likely would have played safety this season had the depth chart not warranted giving him a shot at tailback. ěI’m a back, but I can also catch. I’m like a triple threat running back. I’ve got a lot.î
He certainly piled up a lot of yards against the Trojans, rushing 15 times for 191 yards and touchdowns of three and 81 yards. He hooked up with Eppinger on scores of 13 and 28 yards, showing that he brings another legitimate option to an offense that is already rife with them.
ěHe can do it all,î Brown coach Mike Newsome said. ěThat kid’s a special, special player. He’s a guy that’s as good as any running back that I’ve had or coached. And I’ve coached some good ones. It didn’t take long for some college coaches to see him on film and be impressed with him.î
They would have been impressed with his second touchdown reception Friday. Late in the second quarter, Eppinger rolled right and lobbed a tight spiral back to the left side of the field. Phillips had slipped unguarded out of the backfield, but it looked initially as if Eppinger overthrew him. However, Phillips turned on the speed, made a fingertip catch and put the Wonders (9-1, 6-0 SPC) up 28-0.
This game ń very much like the ones Brown has played for much of the fall ń was decided well before halftime. Brown outgained the Trojans 311-35 before the break, running more plays than Northwest Cabarrus had yards. The Wonders have shut out five of their last six opponents.
ěWe had some good schemes, but they had the answer for it obviously,î Northwest Cabarrus coach Rich Williams said. ěWe just couldn’t get any consistency going on offense, and that really hurt our defense because it was on the field so much. Ö We got beat by a better team tonight.
ěThey got a lot of weapons. They’ve got 17, 12, 19, 6, 3 and 9. They’ve got a lot of weapons they can go to, and it’s hard as a defense to cover all their weapons that they do have. We did good in some spots, but we didn’t do good in most spots.î
Brown rushed for 363 yards, while Eppinger was 10-of-14 passing for 128 yards. Damien Washington also had a big night for the Wonders, showing that he may be fully healthy after returning from injury last week.
The North Carolina-bound dynamo scored on a 21-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and threw a third-quarter touchdown to receiver Keeon Johnson on an end around. Yet, he was more impressed with Phillips’ exploits.
ěHe’s makes [the offense] more balanced by using me as a decoy and bringing him out of the backfield,î Washington said of his teammate’s contributions in the passing game. ěIt’s a quick check down for the quarterback. He’s so quick that he’s able to catch the ball and get up the field. He’s able to make plays and score.î
Phillips now has 23 touchdowns this year, but he and his teammates are planning to save their best effort for next week’s rivalry game with Concord. After allowing his players to enjoy Friday’s win for a few minutes, he told them that the celebration was on hold until the Wonders take care of business against the Spiders.
ěIt’ll be huge,î Newsome said of his first meeting with Concord. ěI’ve coached in some big rivalries like Butler-Independence, but I don’t think anything compares to this. We’ve got coaches that have been in the Anson-Richmond games and Richmond-Scotland games. All of those are big games, but this game takes it to another level.î