By John Garner Jr., Cape Cod Times
When Richie Phillips graduated from Old Rochester Regional four years ago, he was not accepted to any colleges despite his prowess on the football gridiron.
But the 6-foot, 200-pound running back attended summer school at Massachusetts Maritime Academy, buckled down on his studies, was accepted as a full-time cadet at MMA and has shined as a student-athlete ever since, on and off the field.
Two weeks ago, Phillips won the highest regional award possible after his performance at Maine Maritime when he was recipient of the Div. II-III Gold Helmet Award presented by New England Football Writers and National Football Foundation at the New England Football Writers Luncheon at Harvard, presented to the top small college player of the week in New England.
A native of Onset, Phillips rushed for a career-high 146 yards on 25 carries and scored two touchdowns on a 3-yard run and 31-yard reception in the Bucs’ 34-25 victory over the Mariners in the 45th Annual Admiral’s Cup in Castine, Maine.
“It was a great day because we hadn’t beaten them (Maine Maritime) for the past couple years, so it was nice coming out of there with a win,” said Phillips. “Our offensive line did nice job opening holes, we moved the football and put points on the scoreboard.”
He became the sixth player in MMA history to earn a Gold Helmet, joining Jim O’Neill (1980), Kevin Piecewicz (1992 and 1993), David Burrill (2000), Nathan Sherr (2009) and Mike Stanton (2012).
“Richie is an extremely hard worker and runner who leads by example,” said MMA coach Jeremy Cameron. “He’s one of the best kids you’ll ever come across, a good student who’s poised in the classroom and on the playing field.”
His career-best effort helped the Bucs reclaim the Admiral’s Cup from the Mariners for the first time since 2014, as MMA has won five of the last seven meetings since 2011 and holds a 26-19 advantage in the Admiral’s Cup series.
Phillips leads MMA with 521 rushing yards and has scored five touchdowns. Phillips, who ranked among NCAA Division III scoring leaders with 12 touchdowns in 2016, scored three TDs in a 37-32 opening game setback to SUNY Maritime.