Editor's note: Coach Scott Phillips will be inducted into the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame on May 4. He coached at High Island, Groveton, Waxahachie, Plano East and Odessa.
Junction native son Scott Phillips will join an exclusive club that includes coaching legends Spike Dykes, Art Briles, Bob McQueen and Gordon Wood on Saturday when he is inducted into the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Waco.
In his 30 years of coaching, with 26 of those as a head coach, Phillips finished with a career record of 238-75-4 at high schools in High Island, Groveton, Waxahachie, Plano and Odessa.
“It is a great honor. Wasn’t expecting it,” Phillips said. “Just extremely honored and humbled.”
During his years of coaching, Phillips won UIL state titles at 2A Groveton in 1989 and 4A Waxahachie in 1992. He coached teams to 15 district or co-district titles, 18 playoff appearances and a postseason record of 42-14-2.
“Scotty” grew up in Junction as the younger of two children of Fred and Dorothy Nell Phillips. They were enthusiastic fans who traveled far to see his teams play.
His father is also credited with instilling the work ethic and discipline, while his mom taught him to love everybody; both are the basis of the man and successful coach he became.
A two-year varsity player for the Junction Eagles football team, Phillips was a halfback for coach Jerrell Rice.
In his senior year, the Eagles finished with a 9-1 record and missed the playoffs after the 20-13 loss to Sonora (1969). That team included Paul Bierschwale, MiJoe Dechert, George Perez, Charles Allen, Tommy Lawler, Bob Chapman, Charles Hagood, Bob Allen and Butch Lewis.
After graduation, Phillips attended Southwest Texas State — now Texas State University — where he received a bachelor’s degree in 1975. He accepted a position at West Hardin High School, where he spent a year as an assistant coach.
Phillips began his head coaching career in 1980 with a football program that had just come off back-to-back unbeaten regular seasons, including an appearance in the state title game.
In Phillips’s five years at High Island, his Cardinals always had a winning record, were the co-district champion in 1980 and 1981, ultimately winning an outright district title in 1982. The 1980 team missed the playoffs to a coin toss, while the 1981 team was excluded because of point totals.
High Island made it to the playoffs in 1982, 1983 and 1984.
In the five seasons of his first head coaching job, Phillips compiled a record of 42–10–2 with the Cardinals, and the program he left and students he trained would continue to win for the next three years.
The 2A Groveton Indians had just won a state title the year before Phillips was hired, and he said, “I was their third choice. Not a lot of people know that.”
The first choice for the job quit after a couple of weeks because his wife wouldn’t move to Groveton, and the second choice had already taken another job, prompting school officials to call Phillips.
He recalled the phone call being along the lines of, "we’ll go to the board with just your name if you’ll come take the job."
"I went up and saw the athletes they had, and so I took the job,” Phillips said. “It was a great move for me in the right direction. Had a lot of success there.”
Phillips implemented a system that took the 2A school to the state championship game for a second year, where the Groveton Indians lost to the Electra Tigers, 29-13.
Two years later, 13–1–1 Groveton was eliminated from the playoffs in the semifinals by the Refugio Bobcats in a 0-0 tie. With no overtime option, the Bobcats moved to the championship game since they had moved the ball inside the Groveton 20 yard line five times. The Indians had crossed into the Bobcat red zone just twice.
In 1989, the Indians capped an undefeated season with a 20-13 victory over the Lorena Leopards.
“That was a very talented team. I’ve often said that in 1989 that if we hadn’t won state, they should have fired me,” Phillips said. “We were that talented.”
Riding the high of the state championship and a 60-8-2 record at Groveton, Phillips took the head coaching job at Waxahachie.
In his first season as head coach, Phillips coached the 4A Waxahachie Indians into the state quarterfinal game where the team lost to eventual state champion Wilmer-Hutchins. It was the deepest run that a Waxahachie football team had made since the mid-’50s, but would not be the last.
The next year, the Indians got revenge on Wilmer Hutchins and were crowned district champions. Waxahachie, however, lost to Carthage in the quarterfinals to finish 11-2.
The magic happened In 1992, as the Indians went undefeated, were district champion for the second year and defeated A&M Consolidated, 28-24, for the 4A state title. The most memorable game of the playoff run was the 10-9 quarter-final win over Highland Park High School, holding the Fighting Scots to three field goals.
A 30-game winning streak was ended in the semi-final round of the Class 4A playoffs in 1993 by the Stephenville Yellowjackets, 22-21, when they used a trick play, a hideout play, for the go ahead score. On that play, five guys went off the field, leaving only six at the line of scrimmage. However, one player didn’t actually leave the field. He stood near the coaches, and at the snap of the ball, he took off down the sideline and they threw him the ball.
Another problem occurred in the last 30 seconds of that game.
“We threw a pass to their 20-yard line, and my guy was going up for the ball, and they just wiped him out. It was more flagrant than the Saints,” Phillips said. “An official on their sideline threw the flag, and an official at the back came up and said, ‘No, it was uncatchable.’ That’s when I got my second 15-yard penalty.”
After four years and a record of 49-8, Phillips took the next step when he accepted the head coaching job at 5A Plano East High School, just north of Dallas.
In his first year as head coach of the Panthers, Phillips coached 5A Plano East to an undefeated regular season, a district title, and a win over rival, Plano High School, for the first time since 1989.
After playoff wins over North Mesquite and Irving Nimitz, 12-0 Plano East would take on 12-0 John Tyler High School at Texas Stadium in a game that remains legendary in Texas football history.
Down 41-17 with 3:03 left in the game, the Panthers recovered three consecutive onside kicks and erased the 24-point deficit to take a 44 to 41 lead with 24 seconds left in the game. And the crowd went wild! Surely, Phillips’ Panthers had pulled off an unbelievable, amazing, miracle win. Instead, with mere seconds left, a John Tyler Lion took the deep Plano kickoff and raced 97 yards for a touchdown and the win.
Tyler’s John Tyler High School went on to win the state title in 1994. But for that one, last-second, heart-breaking touchdown, Phillips would almost certainly have had the distinction of being the only Texas high school coach to win a state title in three different classifications.
Over the next eight years, Phillips would successfully coach the Panthers to five district titles, seven playoff appearances, but never that state title.
Phillips decided he was ready to move closer to family, so he left Plano East to take the head coaching job out in far west Texas at Odessa High.
“I wanted to not have to drive through the Metroplex to get (to Junction),” Phillips said. “When you live in Plano, you got an hour to an hour and thirty-minute drive just to get out of the Metroplex before you can start the trek home.”
With the Odessa Broncos in “The Little Southwest Conference,” Phillips had the first losing season of his head coaching career. He would endure three of them before getting back to a winning season in 2005 but never made the playoffs in Odessa.
Phillip’s mother was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2006. Phillips explained, “When we found out about the lung cancer and that she wasn’t gonna live very long, I just went ahead and visited with the superintendent and AD and told them that I was gonna resign as of June, and they said, “Well just clean out your office and take it with you, and if we need you, we’ll call you on the phone.”
With 30 years of coaching and his wife Patti’s 28 years of teaching, Phillips and his wife were able to take full retirement and move to Junction.
“I really came home for family more than anything else,” Phillips said.
THE COACH, THE FRIEND, THE MAN
The 16 former players, coaches and administrators who contributed to this article enthusiastically agreed that Coach Phillips absolutely deserves to be included in the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame.
Tony Valastro (Groveton and Waxahachie) said of Phillips, “He is the best in the state.”
Roy Garcia (Odessa) said that the honor was “long overdue."
Tom Kimbrough, the former athletic director for the Plano ISD who hired Phillips, wrote, “Scott is very deserving of this honor and a credit to the coaching profession.” Justin Blalock (Plano East) said he couldn’t think of a better fit for this tremendous honor.”
The accolades, superlatives, obvious respect and heartfelt love for Coach Phillips were apparent in all the interviews. The contributors attribute his success as a coach to several specific characteristics that are representative of who he is as a person: his consistent, fair discipline, never-failing positivity, genuine love for the kids and his coaches, his charisma and vibrancy, his intense, competitive drive to win football games and a brilliant understanding and knowledge of how to win football games, and his willingness to mentor and support his assistant coaches.
Phillips mentioned the emphasis he put on discipline. “No long hair, no jewelry, no profanity, shirts tucked in, clean shaven….”
He had rules, was consistent, and he was fair, applying them equally to his star quarterback as quickly as his third-string lineman. Charles Carmichael (Waxahachie) said, “He taught me the importance of discipline. He was so fair. He expected everyone to obey the rules, no matter who you are.”
David Ryon (Waxahachie and East Plano) agreed.
“He treated all the kids the same, from the least to the star," Ryon said. "He had guidelines. There was praise, but there were consequences. He was fair and consistent with the discipline.” Blalock, who would go on to play for the Atlanta Falcons, said that he had landed on the wrong side of Coach Phillips’ paddle many times.
Phillips’ son, Craten Phillips, played on both of his dad’s state championship teams (Groveton and Waxahachie). He said that being the coach’s son didn’t get him any special treatment.
“My dad treated everybody like you had no last name. You were whatever the mascot was.” and, he said, that included himself. “Whoever you were, if he could get your best out of you, he felt like he’d done his job.”
Craten, himself a successful head coach, said that he has modeled himself after his dad. “He’s a coach’s coach. My success is from his training.” Craten had the advantage of being a player for and an assistant coach with his dad.
Ricky Sargent (Waxahachie) said that Phillips changed the culture, not that “he taught us to love each other.”
Perhaps the most common compliment paid to Scott Phillips was his unwavering support for his fellow coaches — and students — and his willingness to mentor them.
Thomas Brooks (Waxahachie) also noted that he is forever grateful that Phillips took a chance on him. “I didn’t know a lot but he gave me a chance to prove myself.”
This article is long, and it could have been much longer, so admiring and appreciative of Scott Phillips are the men who contributed to it, but there’s one additional secret weapon nearly all of those interviewed claim Phillips has had positively supported his successful career: Patti Phillips, his wife.
From Carmichael: “Tell Scott that I said that Patti is way too pretty for him.” Many agreed that Scott had “married up”. Lauve called her “a perfect coach’s wife. She was a rock and also provided a willing, understanding ear.”
Craten agreed, stating, “My mom is classy, she’s dignified, a phenomenal coach’s wife.” He added that his dad had “what we call, ‘out-kicked his coverage.’”
After 30 years of coaching football, two state titles, a record of 238-75-4, playoff record of 42-14-2, 15 district titles, 18 playoff appearances and two Coach of the Year awards, Junction’s own Scott Phillips will be one of nine Texans to be inducted in the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame on May 4 at the Ferrell Center on the campus of Baylor University in Waco.
Contact information for anyone planning to attend can be accessed at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling Tiffany Wilkins, 210-290-8570.
1992 Indians quarterback recalls time with hall-of-fame head coach
By Travis M. Smith
Quarterbacks and head coaches often have a unique bond, much different than that of any other coach-player combination in sports. It typically born out of hours spent digesting film and game planning.
That bond was no different for Lamont Moore and former Waxahachie head football coach and soon-to-be Texas High School Football Hall of Famer, Scott Phillips.
Moore, who was the quarterback for the Indians in 1992 and helped lead the team to the lone state championship in program history, is currently an assistant football coach and recruitment coordinator for his alma mater.
Following a recent signing day held for five Waxahachie seniors, Moore took time to reflect on Phillips’ coaching-style and the impact his had on the program, as well as Moore himself.
“Like I tell a lot of people, you don’t really appreciate him until you’ve moved on; just all of those traits and things that he instilled in you like hard work,” Moore said. “It was the little stuff that you realize don’t realize until you are older and you start to put those things into your own life and you’ll stop and think, ‘Man, that came from coach Phillips.’ During the time with him, you find yourself thinking that you are working hard and sometimes wondering if it was too much but you knew to trust him and the process because he came in with a championship pedigree. So you trusted the process.
“Then we started seeing success immediately when he got here and it carried over to that championship year. The guys started to believe and he preached ‘Together we can.’ Football is not won with just one individual player; it is the ultimate team sport. He constantly preached all of that and the guys believed it and it led us to the state championship. He is a man built on character, integrity, work ethic and discipline. It was the little stuff like being on time, sitting in the front of the class and making sure you are taking care of your education — old school.”
Moore continued, “He never changed or wavered one time. He never changed anything and you knew what was expected as soon as you entered the building. We were not going to change or bend for anyone. He was going to do it his way and he wasn’t going to waver. That is one thing that I will always remember. He stuck to his guns the whole way. You were either in with him or you weren’t, and there was no grey area. You learned to appreciate that from an outside standpoint because you always want to know what you are getting yourself into. He held everybody accountable in the same way. There was never anyone better than the program. That is what stood out the most.”