Increased roles suit McLaughlin-Phillips duo well for Warren
When Christian Phillips and his family moved from central Illinois to Gurnee last year, he found an academic and football fit at Warren.
He also found Derrick McLaughlin. They happen to be much like each other -- serious about football and weightlifting, similar builds physically, same grade in school, similar work ethics.
"We're partners in the weight room, so we're always pushing each other nonstop," Phillips said. "When I first transferred here, he was one of the first people I was talking to. He and I have just always had a great relationship. He's a hard worker, and I like to surround myself with the same people."
Saturday at Weiss Field in Waukegan, the two seniors had basically the identical impact for Warren, which opened defense of its North Suburban Conference championship by beating Waukegan 56-0 to improve to 3-0.
Phillips had 3 receiving touchdowns. McLaughlin tallied 3 rushing touchdowns.
The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Phillips caught 4 passes, including TD grabs covering 26, 19 and 18 yards, as Warren dropped 49 points on Waukegan (0-3) by halftime. The 6-foot, 205-pound McLaughlin (9 carries, 158 yards) scored on runs of 3, 33 and 10 yards.
Phillips starts at wide receiver, but also gets occasional snaps at quarterback and running back.
"I'll leave most of the running-back plays to this guy," Phillips said with a laugh, looking at McLaughlin after the Blue Devils rushed for 377 yards, including 124 (on 15 carries) from backup Alan Arguellas.
Phillips moved from Urbana last summer, after having played varsity football as a freshman and sophomore. Once he got on the football field, McLaughlin discovered the Blue Devils had a new weapon.
"I was happy," McLaughlin said, "to see that we got another great skill player to have on our team who keeps going."
Like McLaughlin, who backed up Martin Walker Jr. last year before injuring his ankle in Week 8 and missing Warren's run to the state quarterfinals, Phillips has an increased role this season. Because he didn't arrive in Gurnee until late last summer, he missed all 25 of the Blue Devils' off-season practices.
Once last season started, coach Bryan McNulty used Phillips mainly in situations where he could just be an athlete and not worry about particular plays.
"This year he's fully in," McNulty said, "and he's awesome."
McLaughlin, who committed to Indiana State this summer, has ratcheted up his game the last two weeks. He was coming off a 167-yard, 2-TD performance against Glenbard North.
"I try to treat every game like a state championship game, no matter the team," McLaughlin said. "Whether it's Waukegan, Zion ... it doesn't matter."
McLaughlin scored all 3 of his TDs against Waukegan in the first quarter, while Phillips caught 1 scoring pass each from Trinate Jacobs and Phil Hird. Up 35-0 after one quarter, Warren received second-quarter TDs from Phillips (pass from Hird) and Jacobs (6-yard run).
Marc Davila returned the second-half kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown, completing the scoring against a Waukegan team that has dropped 29 games in a row.
"We would never disrespect an opponent by not preparing for them, but it's not about our opponent. It's about our standard that we set," McNulty said. "The kids set it, we set, and we all agree on it, and if we don't meet that standard, then that's the problem. Last week, we won by three scores (26-6), but we didn't meet that standard of play."
Different story against Waukegan.
"For us offensively, we just had to make sure we set some standards and some goals for ourselves for this game," Phillips said. "Having a good score was part of it and so was finishing runs hard and making sure we gave it our max effort because, no matter who the opponent is, we want to give our max effort every time."