Kernel Film Room: Versatility nets Phillips Mitchell receiving record
Parker Phillips already set the Mitchell High School record for rushing yards in a game this season, and on Friday, he took down the receiving record, too.
Injuries and limited success running the ball against Class 11AA No. 3 Pierre prompted the fifth-ranked Kernels to find more creative ways to utilize Phillips’ talents. For the first time this season, Phillips lined up as a slot receiver on occasion and the result was 162 yards and two touchdowns on four receptions.
Phillips’ performance came late in Mitchell’s 48-20 loss to the Governors, but touchdown catches of 82 and 74 yards in the fourth quarter gave the Kernels success to build upon moving forward. It also broke the school record of 144 yards, set by Tim Byrd against Pierre in 1984.
“I just want to get (Phillips) in space and let him work,” Van Overschelde said. “We have to get
our best players on the field and give them a chance to make plays. We need to find a way to spark our team and give us a chance to win football games.”
Big cushion, ball placement lead to long bomb
Pierre clogged the running lanes, preventing Phillips from getting to the edge of the defense and limiting him to 17 yards on 11 attempts.
In the first quarter, he lined up in the slot and took advantage of a soft cushion for a 7-yard gain. Phillips once again lined up in the slot in the fourth quarter, but rather than taking a quick pass against an 11-yard cushion, he went deep down the seam.
As Phillips began to pick up steam, the Pierre safety got caught flat-footed during his back pedal. The split-second pause allowed Phillips to close a 6-yard gap and he moved 10 yards in the same amount of time it took the safety to run 4 yards.
By the time the two players were neck-and-neck, Phillips was running at full speed and had beaten his man. During the route, Phillips cut inside the safety. So when quarterback Tucker Vilhauer placed the ball on his back shoulder, the defender had no chance to make a play on the ball, and when he did, it took away any chance of a tackle after the catch.
“We have to continue to evolve and utilize the things we do well,” Van Overschelde said. “It brings another layer to our offense. It holds defenses accountable as far as defending the pass. There’s a big upside for us.”
Larson’s block springs Phillips
On the ensuing drive, Phillips was back in the slot and was given a bigger cushion after the long touchdown. Once again, Mitchell opted for a quick throw. Even though it was a forward pass, the play served as an extended handoff for quarterback Treyson Schulz.
By the time Phillips caught the ball and began to run, he already had eight yards of separation from the nearest defender, guaranteeing positive yardage.
As the Pierre defender attempted to close in, he took an unwise angle. Phillips decided to cut toward the sideline, but the defender’s momentum carried him inside, allowing Phillips to easily avoid a tackle.
One remaining defender had a chance for a tackle, but receiver Jace Larson made a strong block on the edge to allow Phillips to maneuver up the sideline for a touchdown.
“(Larson) has steadily improved throughout the season,” Van Overschelde said. “I loved his positioning. You don’t have to drive the guy 10 yards down field. You just have to work your hands and work positioning. It’s a well-executed play.”
With his 162 yards, Phillips recorded Mitchell’s fifth 100-yard receiving performance in the last decade and the 10th in the last 20 years.