Haddam-Killingworth football team senior tri-captain Alex Phipps has developed a mobility factor to his game as the Cougars’ quarterback, helping HK stay in Class S State Playoff contention with a 5-3 record after eight games. Photo courtesy of Alex Phipps
On the football field, the position of quarterback is one where the player’s role can be in a state of flux not only from play to play, but additionally yard to yard. Such has been the case for Alex Phipps, as he developed new elements of his game in emerging as a starting senior quarterback for the Haddam-Killingworth football team.
The senior tri-captain and Cougars’ signal caller was thrust into football via his siblings and grew up through the gridiron along the way to HK. Alex did see some starting time behind center as a junior last fall after being third on the preseason depth chart, and then earned the No. 1 position on the depth chart along with his captain designation this fall.
This season, Alex has helped lead the Cougars’ resurgence, as HK is within striking distance of a Class S State Playoff bid with a 5-3 record following only amassing two victories in the previous 2021 season. He has collected strong numbers of 81 pass completions on 146 attempts to yield 1,025 total yards and 12 touchdowns. Always even-keel Alex notes that as his coaches have helped mentor his fast feet on the turf, it didn’t take him long to settle in under the lights.
“Last season, I didn’t start the first few games, but the time I received I thought was good for me as a junior. I was not too nervous stepping out there this year, and after the first game, I felt good as the starter and have been doing great so far,” says Alex, who also plays lacrosse for the Cougars. “Last year, I did not have good footwork. I had played quarterback for a while growing up, but the varsity level of the game is a lot different. This past offseason, [H-K football Head Coach Tyler Wilcox] helped a lot with developing my feet and the reads.”
Speaking more in detail to his decision-making tools and intangibles on when to heave the pigskin or when to haul downfield with it, Alex states that simply having the extra choice instead of just throwing is a huge luxury in its own right.
“With being able to make those decisions, I have been helped a lot by our coaching staff,” Alex says. “Our coaches scout our opponents really well and let us know how to pick apart a defense. Having the extra options to run has been a big help to me out there.”
While sharing captain responsibilities with Tate Callender and Joe Whitside, Alex surmises his experience as a leader within the team as only the best. He additionally credits the camaraderie among the senior class to the fact that they have shared the field since they could remember.
“The seniors here have all played together since youth football, which has helped create a good bond,” says Alex. “It has definitely been really nice to be captain with Tate and Joe, and I think we have done a good job with it. It has been nice to lead this team, especially as a quarterback; it is a good feeling.”
As Alex was one of many players that garnered varsity snaps last year, it laid the foundation for the triumphs taken by HK this fall–being aided by an equally dedicated and seasoned coaching staff.
“A lot of the guys on the team this year played last year, so we had that experience under our belts coming into this season, which has definitely helped our turnaround,” says Alex. “Our coaching staff has been great. Our main wide receivers have also been awesome. Everyone knows what they are doing out there.”
Wilcox praises Alex for adding to his arsenal as a quarterback in helping to accelerate the HK offense. He adds that Alex has also become a much more cerebral athlete, which has led to a reduction in miscues.
“It’s Alex’s job to decide where to go and make the appropriate reading. He has done a tremendous job of taking this offense to the next level incorporating some aspects of the offense we couldn’t do last season,” says Wilcox. “It is year two in the same system and it’s showing off for all involved. His decision making has improved. He has limited turning the ball over. A new rule was implemented for protecting the quarterback, and Alex has taken advantage of that by getting outside the pocket and throwing the ball away to live for another down and avoid the sack.”
In the waning phases of his Cougars’ career, Alex is grateful for how his tenure helped him gain great knowledge of how to direct others as he moves towards his future.
“Being a captain for HK has definitely helped me a lot; I learned a lot of life lessons from it,” Alex says. “It helped make me a leader for life, and I am excited to keep moving on this year. We have a shot at making the playoffs after a 2-8 year last season. It would be great to finish senior year by making the playoffs.”
As the Cougars embark on finishing their postseason goals, they know there is very little room for error in the tightly packed Class S division, but Alex concludes by saying they are motivated by what a spectacular senior sendoff it would be by swooping into the playoff party .
“We are just focusing on putting the time in during practice and training,” says Alex. “We are facing some good teams to end the regular season, and the mindset is that we have to win out the rest of the way to have a shot. It is our final shot for the seniors to end on a good note.”