The Phillips Family of Quarterbacks

Monday, July 23, 2012 - by B.B. Branton

A week from today all-state quarterback Reese Phillips of Signal Mountain dons the pads for the first official day of high school football practice of his final season as an Eagle before heading to the University of Kentucky in 2013.

The 2012 season not only brings to an end his prep grid career, but also the end  - at least for a few years – of a six-decade run of Phillips QBs at Chattanooga high schools.

From Harry Phillips at Chattanooga Central in the early 60s to the 6-2, 220 Reese Phillips at Signal Mountain, there has been five Phillips to wear No.11 and play high school quarterback in Chattanooga covering three generations.

Harry’s two sons – Stan and Tank – were quarterbacks at Tyner in a four-year span (1977-80) while Harry was Tyner principal and Chad (Stan’s son) was a QB and receiver at Baylor (1999-2002).

Tank’s son Harry, Jr. also played football at McCallie (2009-2011) as a defensive back.

Whether it was the run-oriented, tough defense of the great Central teams under E.B. “Red” Etter and Stan Farmer to the wide-open, pass-oriented approach of Bill Price at Signal Mountain, the Phillips family has brought home championships.

Harry and his brother, Dickie Phillips (All-American), and running back Terry Parks guided the Purple Pounders to the AP and UPI state championship in1962; Central’s only perfect season (11-0 and Meninak Bowl champs).

In 2010, Signal Mountain was 15-0 and state champs as Reese was a back-up QB and played on defense and special teams before earning the starting quarterback job in 2011.

“We lost several starters from last season and some people think we will be down a little, but I believe we have plenty of talent to do well,” said Reese threw for just under 2,000 yards 27 touchdowns in 2011, holds a 3.75 GPA in the classroom and plans to sign with Kentucky in February.

“We played on good teams, but I doubt all of our career passing yards combined among the four of us could equal the career numbers Reese will put up by the end of this season,” said Harry with a laugh.

The Eagles travel to East Hamilton, Tyner and South Pittsburgh and host Bledsoe County and Blackman among the 10 opponents.

Defensive lineman Elijah Turnage (6-0, 250) and Reese were all-state in 2011 and Reese’s top receiver should be senior Casey Johnson. (5-10, 170)

“No question, Reese is the best of all of us as he can really throw the ball,” said Stan who led Tyner to an 8-2 record as a senior in the fall of 1979 with first ever wins against Baylor (12-7) and McCallie (17-7) and a 47-0 shutout victory of Howard led by Charles Morgan and future pro and college football hall of famer Reggie White.

“I was at Baylor for two years, but then transferred to Tyner for the ninth grade since dad was the principal there,” said Stan.

Baylor beat Tyner handily Stan’s sophomore and junior years, but had some pay back with a 12-7 win as a senior before a standing room only Homecoming crowd (Kim Scruggs was crowned HC Queen) at Tyner.

Stan scored the winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter on a 3-yard run and connected with Tank on a crucial pass play on that drive to win the District 6-AAA title. Stan was 14-25 for 189 yards passing, while Tank had four catches for 83 yards.

“That was a huge win for us against Baylor as well as beating Howard so bad as Gary Woodburn scored five touchdowns that night,” said Stan.

Still Coaching: Tyner’s head coach in 1979 was Ernie McCarson and this season he is coaching Stan’s son, Reese, at Signal Mountain

No.11:  “Central’s quarterback in 1960 when I was a sophomore was Bert Brown and he wore No.11 so I wanted it and got it after he graduated and it has been in our family ever since,” said Harry who guided the Purple Pounders to a 19-2 record (1961-62) and a pair of shutout wins against future Heisman Trophy winner Steve Spurrier at Johnson City.

“I actually grew up playing sandlot ball wearing a No.19 homemade jersey as I was a big fan of Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas,”  Harry stated.

Multi-Sport Family: The Phillips 5 have a combined 34 varsity letters with Chad leading the way with 10 (football, wrestling, baseball)  … He was the starting left fielder on coach Gene Etter’s first state championship baseball team at Baylor in 2003.

“Talkin’ Base-Ball … “: There might not be a Willie, Mickey or the Duke in the family blood line, but Stan and Tank were Dixie Youth Baseball All-Stars under Skipper Fairbanks in the Red Bank program before playing at Tyner (Stan was All-City as a senior) … Reese has started since the eighth grade in baseball and was 7-1 on the mound a year ago with less than a 1.00 earned run average ... Harry was part of the Knothole Gang of the 50s, while Chad was a Dixie Youth All-Star and has a state baseball championship from Baylor. 

The Central Connection: Harry named his oldest son, Stan, after Central coaches E.B. (Eugene Bonaparte) “Red” Etter and assistant coach Stan Farmer … Stan’s full name is Stanley Eugene Phillips ... Stan passed the name to his sons; Stanley Chadwick Phillips and Stanley Reese Phillips.

Future No.11 QBs??:  Three more young Phillips’ also wear No.11 jerseys … Micah (9), Nicolas (6) and Braylon (1) … Micah and Nicolas play youth soccer and baseball.

contact B.B. Branton at




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