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Michelle Davies The Journal Gazette
Snider quarterback Brandon Phelps led Snider to the SAC title after a seven-year drought.

Panther quietly leads way

Phelps becomes a top Snider QB and a big winner

– With little notice or fanfare, Snider senior quarterback Brandon Phelps continues to climb up the school’s leader board.

A two-year starter, Phelps is No. 4 with 3,277 passing yards, 129 yards away from No. 3 Marcus Heminger (3,406) and 228 away from No. 2 Matt Kulesza (3,535).

It would probably take two more solid games in the Class 5A semistate and the state finals the following week (provided Snider wins) to get the 324 yards to get past Matt Elliott (3,601) for the top spot.

His 1,698 yards this season puts him No. 4 on the single-season chart, behind Heminger’s 1,801 total in 2002, Kulesza’s 1,990 in 1997 and Elliott’s 2,052 in 2008. Phelps has 31 touchdowns in two seasons, tied with Heminger, and behind Kulesza’s 46 and Elliott’s 32.

Phelps, who threw for 1,579 yards as a junior, has come a long way since his first varsity start in the 2011 season opener against Bishop Luers (a 32-21 loss).

“That was a pretty crazy experience,” Phelps said of his Snider debut. “It was upbeat, and it was fast and now everything has slowed down. I don’t feel as much pressure, and I read everything so much better than how I used to after doing it over and over and over again for basically two years now.”

The 6-foot, 180-pound Phelps has led the Panthers to back-to-back semistate games, including the Panthers’ (13-0) matchup against Merrillville (11-2) tonight at Wayne. Phelps has a 22-5 record as a starter and helped Snider win the 2012 SAC championship after a seven-year drought.

“Every pregame Thursday nights, coach (Kurt) Tippmann is always telling me just to play my game, and that I don’t have to win the game,” Phelps said. “He never says the game is all on your shoulders, and you have to do everything. He always tells me if I do everything I am supposed to do, then it all will work out.”

He seems to save his best for last, case in point being last week’s 36-35 overtime win against Fishers in which he threw for 262 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a score.

“We have been best friends since middle school, and we are just clicking on all cylinders when he gets going like he was Friday night,” senior receiver Quinton Daniels said. “It’s kind of an anticipation thing. Whenever we have a play called that is not really made for me, but with the combinations I am like ‘all right, maybe this is coming to me’ because we have that chemistry.”

Daniels has caught 29 passes for a team-best 452 yards and seven touchdowns.

After this season ends, Phelps’ football career will be over as he has committed to play baseball at IPFW.

“After football, I am so sore and that’s what I thought of,” said Phelps, who stopped playing basketball last year. “Playing two sports in college would have been tough. I just decided I picked the one I love the most and go that route. I always looked at baseball that it is just a little bit more relaxed.”

gjones@jg.net

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