Former Northwest High running back Tyrone Phillips, who held the City League’s single-season rushing record for 14 years, died Friday morning of an apparent heart attack in Wichita, a source close to the family said. Phillips was 38 years old.
Phillips rushed for 3,968 yards in three seasons — 1990, 1991 and 1992 — leading the Grizzlies to three straight City League championships. His 1,701 rushing yards in 1991 stood as the City League record until Northwest’s Jeran Trotter broke it in 2005. Phillips was a two-time Eagle Top 11 selection in 1991 and 1992.
Brian Butler was an All-City League fullback at Northwest blocking for Phillips in the early 1990s as the Grizzlies won the school’s first league titles. Butler runs Potential Players/LIFE training and has mentored Philadelphia Eagles running back Bryce Brown and Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown.
It was Phillips’ unfulfilled potential — he never played college football — that Butler said put him on the path to mentoring young athletes.
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Phillips and Butler always stayed in touch over the years.
“This is a tough day, tough for everyone who knew Tyrone and cared about him,” Butler said. “He’s the reason I do what I do and he’s the one that I tell these kids about. I’m struggling with this, as I think a lot of people are ... you just think about his family and his kids.
“I will miss him dearly.”