By Kyle Daubs
If the Mattoon-Charleston rivalry didn’t already need an extra layer.
Charleston High School sophomore Preston Phillips has a few goals this fall golf season. At the top: winning the Apollo Conference.
Of course, he will have to go through Mattoon High School junior and defending champion Stewart Druin to do so.
“I think I can take him,” said Phillips with a laugh.
Taking down Druin wouldn’t just be for a conference title; it would also be for bragging rights with one of his best friends. Phillips trains with Druin over the summer when he gets the chance and the two have formed a very strong bond.
“Blake Wolfe invited me to go play with the Mattoon kids one time and Stewart was there,” said Phillips. “We just connected and started playing and hanging out more. We train during the summer all the time.”
Phillips received All-Apollo accolades as a freshman after placing sixth overall last year. With three of the five golfers in front of him graduating, Phillips sees an opportunity this year to place even higher.
“I’d like to try and accomplish going to state and place higher in the Apollo Conference,” said Phillips. “I’d like to see the team succeed and make a run together at state if we could.”
Charleston placed third as a team at conference and missed going to the Sectional as a team. That also included Phillips missing the mark at the Regional. After placing ninth overall as an eighth-grader at the IESA State Finals, Phillips missed going to the sectional at the high school level.
“It really bothered me,” said Phillips. “I went from doing so good my eighth grade year to thinking I had potential to do well my freshman year. It’s made me work a lot harder this year.”
Phillips believes that the team as a whole can improve too. Three incoming freshmen placed in the top-20 at the IESA Rochester Sectional last year. Phillips believes that with the young talent and the returning seniors the team can make a bid towards returning to state after a one-year absence.
“If everyone puts in the time and effort, I think this team can do pretty well,” said Phillips. “We have a lot of talent on the team. We have some incoming freshman that I think can be pretty good. We have some seniors that can do well too.”