Kennan Phillips, Brenna Conley named Bainbridge High School’s Joe Crine Athletes of the Year

Published 9:08 pm Tuesday, May 14, 2024

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Senior Bearcat football and track & field athlete Keenan Phillips and senior Ladycat softball and soccer player Brenna Conley have been named Bainbridge High School’s 2023-2024 Joe Crine Male and Female Athletes of the Year. 

The award is named after the late, long-time Post-Searchlight sports reporter Joe Crine and is given to a male and female senior athlete who “embody the principals of ideal student-athletes and whole-heartedly commit themselves to their athletic endeavors throughout their high school career.”

“I’m excited and thankful,” Conley said. 

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“It means a lot,” Phillips said. “It means I did everything I was supposed to do in my four years of high school.”

Both athletes have committed to universities to continue their athletic careers. Phillips signed with Georgia Military College to play football, and Conley signed with Charleston Southern to play softball.

“I’m thankful for [the opportunity],” Conley said. “At the same time, I’m a little worried, going off so far, but I know it’ll be fun,”

“I’m thankful for it,” Phillips said. “I know that it’s just a different step in life that I get to partake in.”


Keenan Phillips

Before Keenan Phillips started his freshman year at Bainbridge High School (BHS), he and his family took a tour of the high school building. The tall ceilings and sprawling layout are a stark upgrade from Bainbridge Middle School, but something else caught Phillip’s attention.

Soon after entering the school, he saw a plaque on the wall with the names of all previous Joe Crine Award winners. As he skimmed through the names of the BHS greats before him, he saw a familiar one: his mother’s. 

Tandria Phillips, Phillips’ mother, was a track athlete at Bainbridge and one of the best female track stars in school history. When Phillips saw his mother’s name, he turned to her and said, “I’m going to have my name up there too one day.”

On May 14th, 2024, that dream became a reality when Phillips was named Bainbridge High School’s 2023-2024 Joe Crine Male Athlete of the Year.

“The feeling is so surreal,” Tandria said, seeing her son win the same award she did. “When I see how hard he has worked, and the success that he had his entire four years at Bainbridge… To see him reach that milestone is probably what every parent would want to see.”

Phillips played football all four years of high school career at Bainbridge. In the 2023-2024 season, he was named Region 1-4A Co-Offensive Player of the Year after accruing 1630 total yards and scoring 24 total touchdowns. With his success this year and in the rest of his varsity career, he signed an athletic scholarship with Georgia Military College to continue his football career.

Previous Bearcat football head coach Jeff Littleton described Phillips as a “vital” part of the team and said he’s a “great competitor.”

Phillips also found success on the Bainbridge track and field team. He finished first in the long jump at the GHSA 4A Sectional track and field meet, punching his ticket in the event to the state meet where he finished fourth overall.

Phillips also played baseball from his freshman to junior year.

Phillips was enrolled in multiple AP classes this year, and Littleton said he worked as hard in the classroom as he did on the football field.

“He is the true definition of a student-athlete,” Tandria said. “He puts so much time into sports, but also in the classroom. He had a hard schedule, like AP classes, during the football season and this semester. It’s a testament to him to be able to perform at his level, and maintain a high academic average… I’m super proud, I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Tandria said she’s most proud of the person her son has grown up to be.

“I’ve had so many people say to me, ‘I hope my children grow up to be just like Keenan,’” Tandria said. “I’m grateful for the support he has gotten from his teachers, his family, and the community. We’re so grateful that so many people see him as he is.”


Brenna Conley 

Brenna Conley has been named Bainbridge High School’s Joe Crine Female Athlete of the Year. Conley had a career year on the Ladycat softball and soccer teams, writing her name in the BHS history books and receiving region and state-wide recognition.

Conley had a highly decorated softball career as a pitcher for the Ladycats in her four years at Bainbridge High School. In 2023-2024, Conley was named GHSA Region 1-4A Player of the Year, 2nd team All-State pitcher, chosen as one of the top 80 softball players in the state by the Georgia Coaches’ Association Dugout Club and passed a milestone 400+ career strikeouts. Conley was also named Southwest Georgia’s “Most Positive” athlete by the Positive Athlete Association, and is signed to Charleston Southern University to continue her athletic career in college.

Ladycats’ head coach Rex Wade had the “opportunity” to work with Conley since middle school. He said he’s seen her grow as a leader and on and off the field.

“She’s been with us [since seventh grade] and has worked tremendously hard at perfecting her position,” Wade said. “She amazes me with the drive that she has to be great. I’m just so proud of her and thankful that I got a chance to coach a ballplayer like that.”

Conley also played soccer in the 2023-2024 season for the first year since her freshman year. As center back, she was the anchor for the Ladycats’ defense, helping the team allow less than one goal against per game and being a part of the team’s first undefeated season in school history.