The Year of the Eagles. After shutting out Washington in the Class 5A state semfinals, the unbeaten, 13-0, Dunlap Eagles proved without doubt that they’re the best team in central Illinois. The win earned them their first berth ever in a state football championship game and the right to play Chicago Phillips Academy Saturday morning at 10 O’clock on the Red Zone Game of the Week, presented by Illinois National Bank.
In a year when state sports championships are becoming almost the norm for Dunlap, grabbing the gold will not be easy for the Eagles. Their opponent is currently ranked 88th in the nation (all classes) by HighSchoolFootballAmerica.com and 5th best in Illinois (all classes) by MaxPreps.
In Dunlap’s playoff rematch at Washington, The Eagles dominant defense again showed why it’s the best in the area, shutting out the hosts in the historic all-Mid Illini semifinal. Dunlap’s offense did all it’s scoring in the first half with Luke Bennyhoff scoring on an 8-yard run (pic below) for his 32nd TD of the year and quarterback Myles Burke throwing scoring strikes to his twin tower receivers, Isaac Guyton and Josiah Miamen.
Chicago Phillips provides a stern test come Saturday. The Wildcats are led by two all staters (Dunlap’s Charlie Mangieri earned first team honors while, somehow, Luke Bennyhoff didn’t) in running back Craig Elmore and defensive end Terrance Taylor, who has over 40 sacks this season. Phillips is the first Chicago Public School League team to win a state football championship (Class 4A in 2015), and the Wildcats are playing in their third final in four seasons. They lost in the semifinals last year, an “off year.”
If social media is to be believed, Phillips has around seven Division 1 college-bound players taking the field this year. Clearly, Dunlap will be the underdog.
Hear interviews with both head coaches, Brett Cazalet and Phillips’ Troy McAllister during the pregame show, starting at 9:30 am Saturday. McAllister hails from a small town in Ontario, Canada, and has guided their program to a stunning turnaround. Just 12 kids showed up for his first practice in 2010.
Phillips High School’s scholastic turnaround has coincided with the football program’s rise from the ashes. Not long ago, the school had a 67% dropout rate. Now, according to the school’s website, 100% of its seniors will attend college, with millions of dollars in scholarship money earned by its students helping the cause.
Former Illini lineman Tony Johnson, Tom Meredith, Tyler Busch and I will make the trek to Dekalb to call all the championship game action from Huskie Stadium. Jason Glick produces the broadcast back in the INB Red Zone studios. You can hear the home team broadcast on GLO’s blow-torch FM signal, as well as online for free at this site and by smart phone by downloading the free GLO station app.
It’s 13-0 Dunlap and 13-0 Chicago Phillips playing for the Class 5A state title on the championship edition of the Red Zone Game of the Week presented by INB on Peoria’s home for classic rock and football, 95.5, GLO.