Phillips punts, passes and kicks his way to Hawaii Brooklyn Park 14-year old to compete before Pro Bowl

February 05, 1993|By Steven Kivinski | Steven Kivinski,Contributing Writer

Linebacker Wilber Marshall may have been the only Washington Redskin selected to play in Sunday's Pro Bowl in Honolulu, but he won't be the only player at the game wearing burgundy and gold.

Lucas Phillips of Brooklyn Park will represent the Redskins in the 13-year-old division of the NFL Gatorade Punt, Pass and Kick national championships. Phillips beat the odds and earned a five-day, all-expenses-paid trip for three to the Pro Bowl through his performance in a series of qualifying events.

Lucas, his mother, Karen, and his older brother, Lorn, departed BWI for Dallas yesterday morning to catch a connecting flight to Honolulu, where they were met by tournament representatives and chauffeured to the Hyatt Regency in Waikiki Beach.

"It's not often that a 13-year-old [who just turned 14] can treat his mother to a trip to Hawaii," said Karen. "It's quite an accomplishment on his part because he is so dedicated. He's been out there practicing every day whether it's warm or cold or whatever."

Lucas, who also received $1,000 of spending money, was one of 30 competitors chosen from a pool of more than 200,000 youngsters between the ages of 8-13 that participated in one of the more than 1,500 Punt, Pass and Kick competitions nationwide.

The Brooklyn Park Middle School eighth-grader advanced in a local qualifier at the Annapolis Boys and Girls Club before moving to the sectionals at the RFK Stadium Auxiliary Field and the team competition, which was conducted during halftime of the Redskins-Los Angeles Raiders game on Dec. 26 at RFK.

Winning in Hawaii won't be as easy.

Terry Day of Oxford, Ohio, representing the Cincinnati Bengals, heads into the competition with the most impressive cumulative score of 418 feet, 6 inches, while Phillips was the last player to make the cut at 345-11.

"It's going to be really hard to win out there because I've seen the scores of the other kids and they're very tough," said Lucas, who is considering attending North County, Pallotti or Mount St. Joseph next fall. "My goal is to have fun and win, and to not get mad if I don't."

That is his mother's only concern.

"I said to him the other day, 'Just think, Sunday night we can really celebrate because everything will be all over,' and he said, 'But only if I win.'

"I told him not to look at it that way because in our eyes, he's already won. He said, 'OK, Mom,' but he really, really wants to win. I guess that's the way winners are."

Winners also have a tendency to surround themselves with winners. Perhaps that's why Lucas, who recently was admitted into the gifted and talented program at school, sought the assistance of North County football coach Chuck Markiewicz, the county's pioneer of the run-and-shoot offense.

"I saw him kick a little and I saw him throw and he throws the ball very well," said Markiewicz, who guided the Knights to the state semifinals last season.

"There's still a lot for a quarterback to overcome in the run-and-shoot offense, but from what I've heard about his poise and what I've seen, he has all the tools to fit in well here. For an eighth-grader, he's far ahead of anyone we've ever had."

The competition will be conducted Sunday morning at Aloha Stadium -- before the start of the Pro Bowl -- and scoring will be based on the distance and accuracy of the competitors' punting, passing and kicking.

Highlights of the Punt, Pass and Kick national championships will be shown on ESPN during halftime of the Pro Bowl and will be followed by a live, on-field awards ceremony with NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

Punt, Pass and Kick alumni who have made it to the NFL include the Buffalo Bills' Jim Kelly, Miami Dolphins' Dan Marino, Philadelphia Eagles' Randall Cunningham, Cleveland Browns' Bernie Kosar, Atlanta Falcons' Chris Miller and Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Vinny Testaverde.

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