When Phillip Brooks checked in with a 102-degree temperature at noon last Friday, Lee’s Summit West football coach Vinny Careswell feared he wouldn’t have his star running back on the field that night.
“We didn’t know if he was going to play or not,” Careswell said. “His temperature went down as he got some ibuprofen and went home and rested a little bit. He was good to go.”
Even while battling a virus, Brooks still found enough strength to rush for 342 yards and five touchdowns and add a TD catch during the Titans’ 49-35 come-from-behind victory against Lawrence High in the Sunflower-Suburban Showdown at Lawrence, Kan.
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Brooks picked up his yards on 22 carries and scored the game’s last three TDs as West (4-1) pulled away after trailing most of the first half.
Careswell has become accustomed to seeing such games from Brooks, who had 213 yards and four touchdowns the week before against Lee’s Summit North.
But to see Brooks take over when he was clearly under the weather was even more impressive.
“He battled through it,” Careswell said. “He didn’t complain the whole game. It was just a testament to him and his work ethic and his toughness.”
West needed that toughness to overcome Lawrence’s potent offense, which churned out 514 total yards and had the Titans down two touchdowns in the second quarter.
Chesty Lions quarterback Dante Jackson, who threw three touchdown passes and rushed for 225 yards with another score, tossed two TDs and scored on a 40-yard run before halftime.
Brooks countered with an 81-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and a 69-yard touchdown run in the second, but the Titans trailed 28-14 late in the second quarter before a 15-yard TD pass from quarterback Ben Kobel to Marcian Marshall cut Lawrence’s lead to 28-21 with 16 seconds remaining until halftime.
“They really pounded us in the first half,” Careswell said. “Our defense didn’t respond very well. We made some adjustments at halftime and it was the Phillip Brooks show after that.”
Before Brooks could take over, West needed to stop Lawrence’s offensive onslaught.
The Chesty Lions, 2-1, still led 35-28 midway through the third quarter and were driving toward the red zone when Titans cornerback Mario Goodrich’s fourth-down sack of Jackson provided a much-needed stop.
“That gave us some momentum,” Careswell said. “We kind of got on a roll after that.”
Brooks tied the game 35-35 shortly after with an 18-yard TD reception from Kobel and tacked on two more scores with runs of 40 and 3 yards in the fourth quarter.
Then came some recuperation time, including a Monday off to stay home and get better.
“He’s going to be fine,” Careswell said. “They put him on some medication and he’ll be back at school and practice (Tuesday).”
West’s victory contributed to an 8-2 night for the Missouri schools in the Sunflower-Suburban Showdown, which pits 10 Missouri Suburban Conference teams against 10 from Kansas’ Sunflower League. The Titans beat Lawrence 28-7 in last year’s showdown.
“We wanted that border war win, so we were happy to get that,” Careswell said.