By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports
Phillip Deas didn’t need the ESPN Predictor App to tell him he was in great shape on Oct. 21, 2011. The then-head coach of the Evangel Eagles had a 38-35 lead on rival Calvary and the Cavaliers faced fourth-and-3 at their own 27 with a minute remaining.
“Who would not take those odds?” Deas said. “They’re 70-something yards away and they’ve got to score. You’re feeling pretty good. What are they going to do on fourth down? Not that it’s in the bag, but the ESPN app would say the chances you’re winning the game are pretty high.”
Well, Brandon Wilson annihilated Deas’ algorithm and the Eagles’ hearts.
“I got hit in the backfield, but everyone knows what happened next,” Wilson told The Journal.
The senior eventually found the sideline en route to a 73-yard touchdown to secure the victory for the Cavaliers at Jerry Barker Stadium. It marked Wilson’s fourth score of the night (including a 99-yard kickoff return TD in the third quarter).
That chapter in the one-sided (Evangel is 8-2 in the now-defunct series) but spirited rivalry was the last of three times Wilson and Evangel’s Trent Taylor met on the high school football field.
The superstars didn’t have much of a relationship in high school, but things changed a decade later.
Today, the duo wear the same colors – orange with the black stripes of the Cincinnati Bengals – and are set to face the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI on Sunday in Los Angeles.
“He’s two lockers over from me; that’s really cool,” Wilson said.
Taylor caught a go-ahead touchdown in the second half of the wild 2011 affair. He posted a 3-1 mark against Calvary and scored at least once in each of the final three meetings.
“When we were playing against guys like Brandon Wilson, I’m glad we had a Trent Taylor on our side to kind of match them player for player,” Deas said.
Much gets made of Taylor’s hands of glue, but Deas says Taylor, who hauled in a game-tying two-point conversion in the AFC Championship Game, is the “most competitive individual” he ever coached.
He once told his mother, Jeannie: “Trent Taylor would bite your toe off if that meant he could win.”
Said Deas: “At 5-foot-8, you gotta have more than great hands to get to the NFL.”
The Shreveport Bengals have felt the Louisiana love all season. In addition to teammates Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase, former LSU stars, there is even a Cincinnati cheerleader from Byrd.
“Once the Saints and Cowboys were lost, everybody jumped on the Bengals bandwagon,” said Wilson, who is on injured reserve with a torn ACL. “I already knew that was going to happen.”
Sunday’s stage will be massive, but it won’t erase the memories of those Calvary-Evangel days.
“The city came out, almost like the Byrd-Shreve games,” Wilson said. “It was always cool to be in that atmosphere.”
Especially when you’re the guy who wrecked mathematics.
“It just goes to show what one great player committed to making great plays can do,” Deas said. “Brandon Wilson is a great player and was committed to making a great play. Man, that’s what he did. He broke our hearts and he made their day. That’s the way it should be in those games.”
Photo by KELLY YOUNG
VIDEO: Courtesy of KTBS-3