After a loss in the American Conference championship game a year ago, Phillip Walker and Jahad Thomas walked off the field after having career years. This week, the high school teammates from Elizabethtown, New Jersey are back in the AAC championship game as seniors, looking for a different outcome.
Coming off of a week in which he became the first quarterback in Temple history to throw for 10,000 yards in a season, Walker looks to continue his recent streak of stellar play. Thomas, who rushed for over 1,000 yards last season, has returned and scored two touchdowns in all but one game in his senior season.
Walker is no stranger to record-making. As his senior season winds down, he has already broken school records in pass attempts, completions, touchdowns, yards, and wins by a starting quarterback. Walker has also started 45 consecutive games since the middle of his freshman season.
As freshman, the duo were part of a team that won just two games, with losses to Fordham, and Idaho. Since that season, Walker and Thomas have led the Owls to 25 wins, and the chance to be part of the first team in school history with back to back 10 win seasons. With a win, Temple would win its first conference championship since 1967, as a member of the Mid-Atlantic Conference.
The pair are no secret to big games, under John Quinn at Elizabeth High School, after losing in the state championship their junior season, Walker and Thomas led the team to a new jersey state championship their senior year. That same season, Walker won the Newark-Star Ledger State Offensive Player of the Year, and was one of the state’s most accurate passers in his junior season.
As for their time in high school, playing at Temple has almost been a mirror image for the two. As freshman in high school, the team had a record of 1-9, compared to 2-10 as freshman at Temple. Elizabeth High School posted a .500 record in their sophomore season, identical to Walker and Thomas’ sophomore season at Temple. Losing in the state championship their junior season relates to losing in the conference championship just a year ago. Now, just like high school, they’re back.
“We had the will to not want to lose,” said Walker after the victory over East Carolina. “We played for one another, we knew what was at stake.”
After a slow start to the season. Walker has turned it around, throwing eight touchdowns and just two interceptions since the season defining win over UCF. Including that game, the Owls have won six games in a row.
For his efforts this season, Jahad Thomas was named Second-Team All American Athletic Conference, after being first team last year.
Heading into the conference final, Phillip Walker, and Jahad Thomas have the Temple Owls prepared to finish what they couldn’t a year ago. Defeating Navy will not be easy, but the Owls certainly do not lack experience.