South's Taylor Fletcher heads for a hole in the Central line during second quarter action. Photo by Ned Jilton II.
BLOUNTVILLE — Sullivan South’s Curt Phillips is easily the most dominant football player in Mountain Lakes Conference history.
The 6-foot-3, 218-pound quarterback continues to wade effortlessly through the competition. He makes everything look so easy.
Phillips scored three touchdowns and threw a TD pass — all in the first half — as the Rebels defeated Sullivan Central 49-6 on Friday night.
“Once Curt gets going, he’s hard to bring down,’’ South coach Stacy Carter said. “He can make moves on the go as well as anybody.’’
Central coach Scott Nelson echoed Carter’s words of praise for the Wisconsin-bound athlete.
“Phillips is about as good a player as I’ve seen,’’ Nelson said, “and I’ve seen some pretty good ones. Not a lot of teams have slowed him down.’’
On South’s fifth play of the game, Phillips dropped back to pass and found no one open. He tucked the ball and skirted around right end, picking up blocks from halfback Taylor Fletcher and wide receivers Kaleb Kitzmiller and Houston Martin.
It appeared Phillips was about to step out of bounds but that was wishful thinking on Central’s part. He tightroped his way down the sideline to score on a 65-yard run.
“I thought that I might have stepped out,’’ Phillips said. “I looked back for a second but didn’t hear a whistle. I just kept running.’’
Phillips has been making opposing coaches pull their hair out for three seasons.
“We had him hemmed up on that play,’’ Cougars defensive coordinator Kip Cloninger said. “He just had a burst of speed that we didn’t have.
“Phillips is the complete package. He can do it all. He’s a very classy player and I look forward to maybe watching on Saturdays.’’
As an added dimension to South’s attack, the coaching staff has been inserting Phillips as a kick returner with a twofold purpose: He is elusive and causes defenders to miss, and opponents sometimes choose to kick away from him.
“Either way,’’ Carter said, “he gets us field position.’’
He did more than that with one return against the Cougars. Austin Culbertson punted to Phillips midway through the opening quarter and the fleet Rebel returned it 84 yards for a TD.
Phillips, who never went back into the game after halftime, completed 4 of 8 passes for 83 yards, including a 6-yard TD toss to Bradley Jeffers. Phillips also rushed six times for 107 yards and had a 5-yard TD run to go with his other scores.
In less than three seasons, he has personally accounted for 78 touchdown — running for 39 and also throwing for 39. He has been responsible for 6,726 yards of offense.
Jeffers, the backup QB, could be a starter at almost any other Northeast Tennessee high school. He’s one of Phillips’ biggest supporters.
“I’m learning from Curt,’’ Jeffers said. “He’s been showing me a lot of techniques, especially in running. He’s awesome. It’s a big-time honor for me to be playing behind him. He’s brought in a lot of recruiters, and I’ve even been getting some letters.’’
The 6-2, 180-pound Jeffers, a junior, replaced Phillips at the start of the second half. On the second play, he fired a 50-yard scoring pass to Seth Johnson.
Robert Herring led Central with 114 yards on 19 carries. He scored the Cougars’ only TD on a short run after quarterback Duke Moretz completed a 77-yard pass to Courtney Bowles.
South (5-1, 3-0) took one more step toward winning another Mountain Lakes title. The Cougars (0-6, 0-3) should have their best opportunity for a win next Friday at Unicoi County.