For a list of the other Gatorade State Football POYs, click here.
THE WINNER: Harrison Phillips
School: Millard West (Omaha, Neb.)
Weight: 200 pounds
Athletic achievement: He amassed 86 tackles, including 21 for losses, to go along with nine sacks, seven forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and three pass breakups this past season, leading the Wildcats (10-2) to the Class A state semifinals. A returning Second Team Super-State selection as named by the Lincoln Journal Star, Phillips anchored a defense that allowed fewer than 15 points and 200 total yards per game. In three Class A state playoff games, Phillips totaled 21 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles in addition to his highlight-reel punt block in the state semifinals.
Academic excellence: Also a wrestling standout, Phillips has maintained a 3.77 weighted GPA.
Exemplary character: In addition to donating his time as a youth football and wrestling instructor, he has volunteered locally on behalf of his church’s youth group, Vacation Bible School and Omaha’s Open Door Mission to benefit the homeless. Phillips has also traveled on a service-mission trip to El Salvador.
“He’s a great football player and a great leader,” said Chris Nizzi, head coach at rival Creighton Prep (Omaha, Neb.). “He makes a huge impact. He lined up everywhere. Our game plan was first to find out where he is, determine who’s responsible for him and run away from him. And if he decided not to get blocked, he was not getting blocked.”
THE FUTURE: Phillips has verbally committed to Stanford.