Parker Phillips ran 51 yards for a touchdown on Mitchell High School’s first offensive play of the game against Spearfish on Saturday, sparking on a monumental performance.
Taking the handoff in the middle of the field, Phillips weaved around defenders and up the sideline for the score, leading to a school and Class 11AA-record 378 yards and six touchdowns in the 73-13 win at Joe Quintal Field.
But while Phillips dazzled with his open-field vision, there were multiple crucial blocks at the point of attack and another one downfield to spring him loose for the big run. The touchdown set the tone early for the Class 11AA No. 4 Kernels, who scored seven of their 11 touchdowns in three plays or fewer.
“To put the offense on the field as quickly as we were able to and have them come up with a big play -- that’s the game plan,” MHS head coach Kent Van Overschelde said. “We want to get out early and build confidence.”
Many of Phillips’ big runs come on runs to the outside, but this play is an ISO run designed to go up the middle against Spearfish’s three-man front. It starts with a combination block by center Kendell Fick and right guard Wyatt Winter, who clear out 310-pound Spartan nose tackle Austin Crotteau, lined up over the ball.
With Crotteau cleared out of the way, fullback Joe Van Overschelde follows behind and seals off left inside linebacker Brennan Aga to create a gaping hole for Phillips to run through.
As Phillips moves through the hole, right inside linebacker Mason Schmitz moves over to fill. But left guard Adam Fahey was uncovered at the beginning of the play, allowing him to immediately move to the second level. Fahey swiftly found Schmitz across the formation and easily took him out of the play.
“The weakside linebacker was slow to fill and Parker ran through one tackle at the second level and he’s off to the races,” Van Overschelde said. “You see the execution of that play with (Fahey) getting to the second level, flowing to the football. It was a well-executed football play.”
After cutting behind Fahey’s block, Phillips shrugs off a tackle from another Spearfish linebacker, who was late in coming across the formation. As he heads to his left, Phillips begins to pick up steam, evading a diving tackle from free safety Sean Wenzel and bounces off defensive end Isaiah Lahoe, who was trailing the play.
But as he makes Wenzel miss, Mitchell wide receiver Ryley Johansen takes out cornerback Jaden Guthmiller, allowing Phillips to burst into the open field.
Without Johansen’s block, there is potential for Guthmiller to bring down Phillips, particularly after being momentarily slowed down in his attempt to dodge would-be tacklers. Instead, he moves around Johansen and outraces everyone to the end zone.
“It was pretty well executed from guys blocking downfield, the double-team, to the fullback’s block, to the backside guard getting to the middle linebacker,” Van Overschelde said. “Parker made one move in the secondary and ran away. It’s to the point that we’ve become accustomed to those big plays. To get off to an early start was a positive for us.”