Phillips, Texas: The Ghost of a Football Powerhouse

Football Powerhouse Ghost Town

Who was the 1954 Class 2A Champion? The answer to that would be the Phillips Warhawks. They beat Killeen 21-13 for their first and only state championship in football. Where is Phillips? Why can't you find it on a map? If you search Google, you will find: Phillips is a ghost town in Hutchinson County, United States.

The town of Phillips was named after Frank Phillips, the founder of Phillips Petroleum Company (PPC). It was a merger of two drilling camps: Phillips Camp and Whittenburg Camp. The town started playing football in 1935. They went 19-19-4 in their first 5 seasons - the definition of mediocre... that would soon change!

Harold C. (Chesty) Walker

In 1939, they hired Harold C. (Chesty) Walker to the Head Coach position who turned the Warhawks into a football dynasty. Walker led the team until 1956. During that time, his teams went 169-24-10 during an 18 year span winning 18 district championships. They won the state championship in 1954. During his tenure as Head Coach, Walker never had a losing season and Phillips was considered one of the all-time greatest football programs in the state. Walker's legacy was much more than just wins. Twenty-four (24) of his players go on to careers in coaching.

The Warhawks had another chance at a state championship in 1967. They went up against Plano in the Semifinals. Many claim there were some questionable calls in the game that may have cost Philips the game and the Class 2A state championship. They lost 14-13 to Plano who went on to easily win the state championship over Universal City Randolph 27-8.

So what happened to this oil town? They reached their peak population of 4,500 residents in 1955 with 1,285 student in school from K-12. Improved highways and transportation resulted in many businesses and people moving to Borger. By 1980, the population had dropped to about 2,500. On January 20th 1980, a huge explosion at the refinery rocked the town and severely damaged the businesses, the schools, the churches, and most of the homes. There were 1,200 broken windows in the Phillips schools alone that had to be replaced. The explosion forced 317 families to leave by years-end which was a loss in population of about 1,600 people. This was the beginning of the end of the town and school.

In August of 1985, Phillips Petroleum Company announced plans for the removal of the 68 homes on Phillips Avenue. Unexpected eviction letters from Whittenburg M & M Cattle Company were also sent to the other 415 homeowners in Phillips Then Whittenburg unexpectedly sold the 140 acres of leased land on which Phillips houses stood to Phillips Petroleum Company instead of to the homeowners who were trying to buy the land. This transaction left Phillips Petroleum Company as the sole landlord of Phillips by the year’s end.

By 1986, the population of Phillips dwindled to 800. In 1987, the town of Phillips decided to consolidate with Stinnett and Plemons to form a new school district. The three mascots, the Plemons Indians, Stinnett Rattlers and the Phillips Blackhawks were blended together to create the Stinnett West Texas Comanches. The campuses of the district, West Texas Elementary School, West Texas Middle School and West Texas High School are all united with Comanches as their mascots.

In 1989, after four years in the courts, the Phillips homeowners class action suit to remain in Phillips was finally denied by a federal district judge who ruled that all the remaining 50 homes must be moved out of town by August. Sixty-four years of history came to an end as Phillips officially ceased to exit as a town. Phillips Petroleum Company bought the Phillips school buildings from the school district.

Phillips may be one of the best unknown football powers in Texas.

by Chris Doelle