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Broken wrist fails to stop West Lib QB Zach Phillips

WEST LIBERTY – Zach Phillips opted to continue his football career at Gannon University after his record-setting career at Wheeling Park. He will always remembered, however, for the grid legacy he left at West Liberty University.\Phillips enjoyed a productive two-year stint as Gannon’s starting quarterback. After his sophomore season, however, he decided to leave the Erie (Pa.)-based institution and return to the Ohio Valley.

His decision to transfer to West Liberty was well thought out, taking into consideration, family, academic and home.

“The main reason I transferred was being able to play with my brother, Nate (a WLU receiver),” Phillips said. “I also switched my major to become a teacher and coach. West Liberty has a good program for that. I also wanted to be closer to home.”

The move to the Hilltop didn’t come without some trepidation for Phillips.

“My first day at West Liberty I was 22 years old. I was concerned whether I would fit in. I also did not know if I would win the starting quarterback job,” Phillips offered. “The coaches and teammates have been great from day one. We have tremendous camaraderie on this team. Two years have flown by.”

While the 6-2, 205-pounder has piled up impressive numbers at quarterback, his most impressive performance may be playing the final two games in his career with a broken left wrist.

Phillips suffered the injury in Game 7 against Walsh. He sat out the following two games before making the decision to give it a go despite the painful injury.

“I said screw it. Why not play? I am glad I did,” the Hilltopper captain said. “First, I had to get the medical clearance, which I did. Then I told Coach (Roger) Waialae I wanted to play, and he gave me his blessing.

“The first game against Wesleyan I had a full cast that had to be heavily covered with foam to make it legal. I had to make a tackle that game after a turnover,” he added. “The second game against Charleston we got rid of the cast and just used a brace and a lot of tape covered with foam.”

Against Wesleyan, Phillips completed 25-of-44 passes for 272 yards and three touchdowns in a Hilltopper win. In a tough loss to Charleston, he completed 14-of-17 passes for 208 yards and three more TDs. He was not intercepted in either game.

“I am glad I played those last two games. I wish we could have won both,” Phillips said. “The last two years have gone so quickly. I enjoyed every single day here.

“It has been a great experience here at West Liberty. Football has taught me a lot about life,” he continued. “I would do anything to have another year of football here.”

The Walsh game was a bittersweet one for Phillips. While he did incur a broken wrist, the game also provided a lifetime memory.

“We played them in Canton in the field right next to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Nate and I teamed up for a TD pass. I thought how neat it was to throw a touchdown pass to your brother in the shadows of the great players of all-time.”

For his collegiate career, Phillips passed for 6,275 yards and 51 TDS. He rushed for 1,370 yards and 20 more touchdowns.

Phillips has his eyes set on a teaching and football coaching career. It is a vocation that comes to him quite honestly as his dad, Keith, is a longtime football coach, currently serving as Wheeling Park’s highly regarded defensive coordinator.

BUBBA’S BITS

A WEEK from today we will start publishing our special series on the Top 10 prep football games of the last 50 years in the Ohio Valley. For five consecutive days, Dec. 1-5, two games will be featured in each edition.

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