By Matt Hill
Many Tri-Cities area football fans were glued to the television last Saturday night to watch a native son, and now they will get to see him play on New Year’s Day in the Rose Bowl.
Wisconsin starter and Sullivan South graduate Curt Phillips was on center stage in the team’s 70-31 spanking of Nebraska en route to leading the Badgers to a Big 10 Championship and a trip to Pasadena.
It was a long road to this moment, a road that included three ACL surgeries. In the end, Phillips is going to be a part of one of the greatest traditions in all of college football.
Phillips is considered to be one of the all-time great high school players in Northeast Tennessee, but he has found college to be a lot more difficult.
When he had the opportunity to finally crack the starting lineup as a fifth-year senior, one of the guys happy for him was former Elizabethton Cyclone lineman and Yale Bulldog Evan Ellis.
“ I knew there was something special about Curt,” Ellis said. “When we were seniors, he had committed to Wisconsin by the time we played them. He has a great work ethic and when his number was called this year he was ready to answer the call and has played well. I knew he would succeed, I just didn’t know it would take this long. I will never forget meeting him at midfield after halftime when we were captains our senior year, just two guys who came to compete and worked hard to gain exactly what we wanted from the game of football, the chance to play Division One ball. This is one of my most vivid memories of playing at Elizabethton.”