Record performance nothing new for Mitchell's Phillips
At halftime, murmurs started to circulate through the Mitchell High School locker room that Parker Phillips was close to running into the record book.
Through two quarters of Saturday’s game against Spearfish at Joe Quintal Field, Phillips amassed 309 yards, just 16 shy of Spencer Neugebauer’s school and Class 11AA record of 325 in 2016.
But Kernel head coach Kent Van Overschelde had already made a decision to give the first-team offense one series in the second half, already leading 47-13.
Phillips did not need more than that.
On his second carry of the third quarter, Phillips motored 69 yards for his sixth touchdown of the game -- tying the Class 11AA record held by Pierre’s Devin Rounds in 2006 -- and shattering Neugebauer’s record with 378 yards in Mitchell’s 73-13 win against the Spartans to move to 3-0 on the season.
“I don’t really keep track of (statistics) during the game, I just play,” Phillips said. “... Coach (Eric) Witte said I was pretty close. … I just went out there and gave it my all. I wanted it -- it was for the whole team.”
Phillips was in eighth grade when Neugebauer lit fire to Class 11AA opponents in 2016, running for 2,191 yards and 38 touchdowns -- 42 overall -- as the Kernels went on to win the state championship.
He says the two have never spoken and they have few similarities on the field. Neugebauer, now a standout for Dakota Wesleyan University, was listed at 6-foot-1, 185 pounds as a high school senior, while Phillips is 5-7, 165 and relies upon his shiftiness.
Yet, their statistics tie the two together nonetheless.
Phillips was on pace to break Neugebauer’s records through five games last season, until illness and injuries slowed him down. The senior is back on pace, racking up 782 yards and 12 touchdowns through the first three games of the season.
If Phillips keeps his pace of 260.7 yards per game -- a lofty task -- he would surpass the single-season mark in the final regular season game of the year against Huron. Meanwhile, his four touchdowns per game would move him into first-place in the first round of the playoffs.
“It’s the ability to see the field in front of them,” said Van Overschelde, comparing Neugebauer and Phillips. “It’s a vision thing, but it’s also the ability to shift and change directions. Some of the things when you watch Parker, as far as avoiding tacklers and making guys miss, is pretty amazing to watch.”
Phillips joined Neugebauer and Trevor Hohn as the only Mitchell players to surpass 300 yards in a game since statistics have been tracked by the school in 1981. Hohn ran for 309 against Pierre in 2002, a record that lasted until Neugebauer’s 325 against Pierre 14 years later.
Both needed more than 30 carries to get there, with Neugebauer and Hohn rushing 33 and 31 times, respectively. Phillips, however, needed 13 attempts to get to his mark, an average of 29.1 yards per carry.
Saturday marked the fifth time Phillips has run for more than 200 yards and the third time he has scored at least four touchdowns in the last 13 games.
“You block a guy, you see (Phillips) running up field and you know you have to go celebrate with him,” Mitchell offensive lineman Ben Ziebarth said.