LAST YEAR: 11-2, lost to Johnsburg 23-20 in the semifinals of the Class 4A state playoffs
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Craig Elmore, sr., RB/LB; J’Bore Gibbs, sr., QB; Terrance Taylor, sr., DE
GAME NOTES: Head coach Troy McAllister has turned the Wildcats into one of the top programs in the state. Over the last three seasons, they have racked up 37 wins, one Class 4A state title and one Class 4A runner-up finish. Phillips’ 2015 state championship was the first by a Chicago Public League team. … The Wildcats enter this season ranked No. 8 by the Sun-Times and 14th by the Tribune. They have several players receiving Division I interest, including 6-foot-3 senior J’Bore Gibbs. The defense got a boost when senior Terrance Taylor transferred to the school from Mount Carmel. The 6-4, 215-pound Taylor is part of a college-looking defensive line. The other players go 6-3/300, 6-4/250, 6-2/300. Loyola head coach John Holecek said Phillips will bring pressure up front and play man coverage in the back. Offensively, Holecek said Phillips runs a spread with multiple formation looks. Although Phillips doesn’t have a big roster, the Loyola coaches count only four Wildcats who play both ways. “They are big, fast, physical and well-coached,” Holecek said. “We will have our hands full.” … Loyola also opened the 2012 season against Chicago Public League, beating Simeon 20-0 at home.