Countdown: Nos. 6-10 Adaptability, resiliency define honorees
The "All-Decade Super 25 Football Team" has reached the top 10.
This installment includes a trio of quarterbacks, a player who excelled on both sides of the ball and a defender who still hopes to make an impact at the college level.
In step with how we have honored central Ohio's best since 1993, this five-part series recognizes 25 players who competed for schools in the ThisWeek coverage area, consisting of Franklin County and parts of Fairfield and Delaware counties.
By the time the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Phillis joined Hilliard Bradley's program as a junior quarterback in 2015, the Jaguars were close to taking off.
Bradley had never made the playoffs but had put together two winning seasons since the school opened in 2009.
Phillis proved to be the right player to help get the Jaguars over the top following his transfer from Olentangy Orange after his sophomore season, although things never seemed easy for him.
He lived in the Hilliard school district through sixth grade before moving to Lewis Center. After his mother, Jill Phillis, died of cancer during his sophomore year, he moved in with relatives in Hilliard.
In his first year with the Jaguars, Phillis suffered a broken metatarsal in his right foot that caused him to miss a 14-9 loss to Westerville Central in Week 6.
Despite that, he returned to lead Bradley to wins in its final four games.
"You think about that," coach Mike LoParo said in 2016. "You play four games with a broken foot. Think about how tough the kid is. He not only played with a broken foot, but he led us with a broken foot."
Phillis, who saw time as a freshman as Orange went 1-9 and then threw for 1,216 yards and 11 touchdowns as a sophomore when the Pioneers finished 4-6, passed for 2,009 yards and 19 touchdowns while helping Bradley go 7-3 in 2015.
He then delivered a spectacular senior season, leading the Jaguars to their first of three consecutive playoff berths and being named the state's Division I Offensive Player of the Year.
Phillis, who threw for 2,508 yards with 27 touchdowns and four interceptions as Bradley went 9-2, was the "kind of kid you get once in a career, if you're lucky," LoParo said.
After the 2012 regular season, the committee that selects the all-district teams debated the proper way to honor Woodley for his senior year at Hartley.
It seemed likely that he'd be one of the Players of the Year in Division IV after the Hawks posted a perfect regular season, but should the committee put him on offense or defense?
That sums up perfectly how valuable a player Hartley possessed.
When Woodley was a sophomore, he was a third-team all-state honoree in Division IV as a defensive back and was used more like a decoy on offense, filling a contributing role as the Hawks won the state title.
Woodley then became an even more integral piece as a junior, earning district and state Defensive Player of the Year honors when he recorded 85 tackles, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries for the regional runner-up Hawks.
Woodley's 220-pound frame compensated for the fact that he was just 5-10 as a junior, and he grew an inch heading into his senior season.
After rushing for 1,567 yards and 19 touchdowns as a junior, Woodley was given the nod as Offensive Player of the Year in both the district and state as a senior when he ran for 1,904 yards and 27 scores as the Hawks reached a state semifinal.
That set him up for a distinguished career as a linebacker at Toledo, where he earned defensive MVP honors in 2015 in the Boca Raton Bowl, received third-team all-Mid-American Conference honors in 2016 and recorded eight tackles in a MAC title game win in 2017.
"When you've got a kid of this caliber, you've got to play him 48 minutes, and I'd do it even if I coached Division I," Harltey coach Brad Burchfield told The Columbus Dispatch in 2012.
Throughout his time as a three-year starting quarterback for Pickerington North, Weirick said he liked to base his actions on the field on instinct.
There wasn't a better passer in central Ohio during his final two seasons.
The threat that he might scramble on any given play, though -- particularly during his senior season in 2017 when he led the Panthers to a 10-3 record and a Division I, Region 3 runner-up finish -- continually kept defenses on edge.
"I like to do whatever comes," Weirick said before his senior season. "Rather than being an athlete who can throw the ball, I like to say that I'm a quarterback who can run the ball."
Weirick started most of his freshman season as North went 4-6 but missed almost all of his sophomore year with a broken collarbone as the Panthers finished 5-5.
In his return in 2016, he threw for 2,827 yards and 28 touchdowns while rushing for seven scores as North went 8-4, with all of its losses to playoff teams.
Weirick hit his stride running the ball as a senior. He rushed for two touchdowns in a 42-0 victory over eventual state semifinalist Olentangy Liberty in Week 5.
He lit up Reynoldsburg for 188 yards and one touchdown rushing to go with three touchdown passes a week later and passed for 194 yards while rushing for 172 in a 41-20 win over Huber Heights Wayne to open the postseason.
On the season, Weirick passed for 2,526 yards and 32 touchdowns and rushed for 1,083 yards and 12 scores.
His dual-threat abilities fit in well at Wofford, a Football Championship Subdivision program that made the playoffs last fall.
Weirick saw action in three games last season, including in the playoffs when he threw for one touchdown in a 28-21 first-round loss to Kennesaw State.
As a freshman in 2018, he had a 63-yard touchdown run in his first college game.
It's interesting how dreams can change when you realize you're unexpectedly good at something.
Take Haber, for example.
Involved in travel baseball since he was young, Haber started for Olentangy in 2014 and 2015 and seemed to be on a march toward a college career in the sport.
Then, football began to emerge in his heart.
"I played a lot of baseball with the Ohio Elite last summer," Haber said two days before his final prep football game. "I didn't go to a single (football) camp, but then I started to change my mind."
It turned out that the 6-2, 190-pounder not only had a good enough arm to play shortstop, but it was more than adequate enough to play quarterback.
He began his sophomore season in 2013 as the Braves' third-string quarterback but was the starter by that season's midpoint. Olentangy went 8-2 and missed the playoffs, but his football career began to take off.
Haber threw for 2,785 yards and 23 touchdowns as a junior as the Braves reached a Division II state semifinal.
Then as a senior, he completed 231 of 359 passes for 3,135 yards with 33 touchdowns and eight interceptions to close his career with more than 7,000 yards passing.
His baseball career took a backseat by that point. He didn't play as a senior, instead signing to play football for Ashland and participating in the Divisions I-III game of the Ohio North-South All-Star Classic.
Haber, who later attempted to be a walk-on at Ohio University, certainly left his mark at Olentangy.
"The first time I saw him throw a football, I told myself I had to have him in a football uniform," Braves coach Mark Solis said in 2015. "When he's on, he is as good as anybody."
Cooper received what many might consider the ultimate compliment when his coach, Bruce Ward, gushed about his competitiveness after his 2015 senior season for Gahanna Lincoln ended prematurely.
The Lions endured a huge blow in Week 9 when Cooper suffered what was expected to be a season-ending injury, although they defeated Pickerington North 43-31 to secure a playoff berth.
When Cooper found out it was a sprained MCL, he decided to attempt to play in Gahanna's regular-season finale against Pickerington Central.
He didn't last long once it was clear to Ward that Cooper wouldn't be able to be full-go.
"I thought he was going to kill me when I pulled him, but it just wasn't worth it," Ward told The Columbus Dispatch. "He's got such a bright future ahead."
Cooper is a redshirt senior for Ohio State who could be ready to make his biggest impact yet if he can stay healthy. He missed all but five games last season with an ankle sprain.
Things haven't always been this frustrating for Cooper, particularly when he was central Ohio's best defensive end during his final two prep seasons.
Cooper, who doubled as a tight end, had 14 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks as a junior when Gahanna went 7-4 and made the Division I, Region 2 playoffs.
He added 20 pounds to project a 6-4, 235-pound frame as a senior and was even better, finishing with 18 tackles for loss and 12 sacks despite not playing most of the season's final three games as the Lions again finished 7-4.
Along the way, he was considered one of the top defensive ends in the country and played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
"Just what he brings to the table with his work ethic, he's just been everything you'd want," Ward said. "He's probably the best player I've ever coached."