Saturday, Aug. 29, 2009 | 12:41 a.m.
LaQuan Phillips would not have missed this for anything.
Phillips, the former Green Valley defensive back who was temporarily paralyzed last season after suffering a bruised spine in a game against Centennial, watched this season’s showdown between Green Valley and Centennial Friday night from the stands in his No. 3 jersey.
“I’m loving it,” Phillips said at halftime when the score was tied at zero. “They are looking great.”
Phillips predicted a second-half triumph from the Gators. Turns out he was right. Green Valley defeated Centennial 10-7 thanks to a late field goal from kicker Nolan Kohorst.
Just a day earlier, Phillips threw out the first pitch at Cashman Field before the 51s game against the Reno Aces.
“It was a brand new experience,” he said. “I’m used to football, so baseball is a new territory for me.”
Phillips threw the first pitch on behalf of the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, which will be held from Oct. 12-18 at TPC at Summerlin.
Phillips will help promote the tournament through October and will present the trophy to the winner on the 18th green.
Shriners helped Phillips recover from his injury last fall and treated him at its Sacramento children’s hospital.
Phillips said he went back to Sacramento last month for two weeks of therapy when Shriners approached him about working with the tournament.
“I was more than willing because Shriners has done so much for me,” Phillips said. “Anything to help Shriners back is no question for me.”
Because of Shriners, Phillips was able to walk again. He set a goal to walk unassisted across the stage at his high school graduation in June and achieved it.
Now, Phillips is enrolled in college at Nevada State and says he can notice improvements in his walking every day.
“I never wake up disappointed,” he said.
Phillips said he was most looking forward to meeting Justin Timberlake at the golf tournament. In the meantime, he’s excited to follow Green Valley’s football season.
He will try to catch a few more Gator games this season. Phillips didn’t hesitate to offer a prediction for the season.
“I’ve never seen a more focused team,” Phillips said. “I expect them to go anywhere from 7-3 to better.”
Phillips was particularly proud of the Green Valley secondary Friday as it shut down the Centennial offense and held it to 45 yards passing.
Green Valley coach Matt Gerber said it was inspirational for Phillips to be a part of the team’s first victory.
“He’s still part of our family and he always will be,” Gerber said. “We love to have him out here whenever we can.”