Airport High defensive lineman Chris Phillips jokes that he came out of the womb playing football.
That is not true. But it does seem to have been destined that Phillips would play for the Eagles.
His father Troy earned Shrine Bowl honors as a defensive tackle at Airport in the late 1970s, and his mother was an all-state gymnast at the school.
Uncles on both sides of the family also played football at Airport.
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"I do feel like I've been playing football since I was born," Chris said. "And I'm proud that so many of my family have played at Airport."
Like everyone else in the family, Chris not only plays, but excels. A 6-1, 235-pound senior, Phillips has a team-high 83 tackles for the Eagles (7-0).
While he mostly plays defensive tackle, Phillips also has been used at defensive end and linebacker and on offense at tight end.
"We put him everywhere," Airport coach Kirk Burnett said. "He's a defensive tackle by trade, but he'll play anywhere. We just try to get him in the right spots."
While Burnett admits it may be unusual to have a defensive tackle leading the team in stops, it is not unusual if you understand Phillips.
"It just shows you how hard he plays," Burnett said. "He plays extremely hard every snap. He's not that impressive in street clothes, but on the field, I think everybody knows who No. 80 is."
Another thing that impresses Burnett is Phillips' consistency.
"We kid about it on Sunday as coaches when we meet," Burnett said. "Someone will say, 'How many tackles did Chris have, 34 or something?' It's what you hope for in a senior player, seeing him progress along with the other guys who have been in the program."
Phillips says he has simply become a better player through repetition.
"I recognize things a lot more quickly now," he said. "I read and react a lot better, which is something that comes from experience. I just try to play hard every play and stay with it."
Meanwhile, Troy Phillips is enjoying every moment of his son's career.
"I coached football for a number of years, but there's nothing like sitting and watching your own son play," said Troy, who is the principal at Bamberg-Ehrhardt Middle School. "It's just exciting. He has achieved a whole lot more than I ever did at that age."
While Troy also was a defensive tackle and played at a similar weight as Chris in high school, he sees differences in how his son plays.
"He's very aggressive and sometimes too aggressive, but he has done very well," Troy said. "He's very disciplined in his play. He's a lot smarter than I was at that age and a lot more aggressive than I was at that age."
Even so, it is uncertain whether Chris will get a shot at playing college football because of his lack of size.
"We'd like to think maybe a Division II school might take a chance on him because of his motor and his work ethic," Burnett said. "I hope we can find somewhere for him to play. If a school will take a chance on him, they'll get a football player because that's what he is."