Most running backs use speed and quick cuts to gain yards. Phillips senior Craig Elmore has some moves, but he’s basically a wrecking ball, powering through the line with defenders bouncing off him. Then when he’s running free, he’s hard to bring down.
The raw power of Elmore’s running style was on full display in the Wildcats’ 55-14 rout Saturday of host Solorio in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs. Elmore had 28 carries for 232 yards and six touchdowns. His 49-yard touchdown run in the second minute of the game set the tone.
‘‘It is not just me,’’ Elmore said. ‘‘It’s the scheme, all the coaching and the effort from the offensive line. I couldn’t do it without them. They start the play. Sometimes they finish the play, too, with the blocks. I want to give a lot of credit to them.’’
Elmore gained 205 yards in the first half, and there was a running clock by the fourth quarter. That’s a drastic difference from the last time the teams played. Phillips barely survived at home in mid-October, holding on to defeat the Sun Warriors 14-9.
‘‘Last time we weren’t as focused,’’ Wildcats lineman Queneil Morrison said. ‘‘We weren’t mentally into the game. We thought it was going to be sweet and easy, but it didn’t go too well the first time.’’
Linebacker Terrance Taylor agreed.
‘‘I’m not going to lie: We came out thinking it was going to be easy last time,’’ Taylor said. ‘‘This time it felt like the whole team was ready.’’
Taylor did a little bit of everything. He helped contain Solorio quarterback Quincy Patterson, caught a 28-yard touchdown pass and recovered a fumble and returned it 47 yards.
‘‘I love playing offense and defense,’’ Taylor said. ‘‘I really don’t want to be defined as a one-position player. I like helping the team as much as I can.’’
Phillips quarterback J’Bore Gibbs was 4-for-7 for 81 yards with a touchdown pass. He also had six carries for 39 yards.
‘‘Last game we had six turnovers,’’ Wildcats coach Troy McAllister said. ‘‘There was a big discrepancy in the yardage in that game. Tonight we took care of the ball and just wore them down.’’
Patterson, a Virginia Tech recruit, was 4-for-10 for 78 yards with a touchdown pass and an interception. He can be a devastating force running the ball, but Phillips (11-0) limited him to one yard on 14 carries.
‘‘We had to shut down everyone, but Quincy is a big part of their offense and defense, so taking him out of the picture is a big step,’’ Taylor said.
Solorio junior Messiah Travis returned a kickoff 70 yards for a touchdown to make it 28-14 late in the first half. He also caught a touchdown pass from Patterson.
‘‘It’s great to see CPS teams deeper in the state playoffs, to have two teams playing in the second round,’’ Elmore said. ‘‘It’s wonderful to see another team do that.’’
The Sun Warriors (8-3) will drop into the Public League playoffs. Phillips, a big favorite to win Class 5A, will host Lemont (10-1) in the quarterfinals next weekend.Tags: Phillips, Solorio