(CBS) -- No Chicago Public Schools team has ever won the state football championship and this weekend Wendell Philips Academy is vying for the 4A title for the second straight year.
"It's fantastic," said principal Matt Sullivan. "We want to be the beacon, the shining beacon in the Bronzeville community."
Sullivan says just five years ago, the school had high dropout rates and low test scores.
"In 2010, Phillips High School was the worst school in Illinois," said Sullivan.
Last year, 100 percent of seniors were accepted to college with more than $5 million in scholarships.
Since the fall of 2010, Phillips has been managed by Academy for Urban School Leadership, a nonprofit CPS school management organization that creates schools of excellence by developing highly effective teachers and transforming educational outcomes for students in what once were CPS' lowest performing schools.
Sullivan says with help from the AUSL, the Bronzeville school has had a dramatic transformation.
"What has happened in the last six years is amazing," said Sullivan. "We just had our highest ACT scores this past year. We had 100 percent of our seniors accepted to college which has never happened in the history of the building. We went from $2.6 million in scholarships offers to $5.4 million in scholarship offers."
The football program is the second largest program in CPS involving more than 90 student athletes. The varsity team is led by 19 seniors all of whom are on track to graduate and several of them that are being recruited to play at the collegiate level. And the success can be seen and felt in the halls of the school.
"These kids have pride," Sullivan said. "They know that having Phillips on a college application means something now. It's more than a school, it's a movement."
Only three Chicago public high schools have reached the IHSA football championship game in the last thirty years, and no Chicago public team has won it.
The Wendell Philips Academy Wildcats have done it twice in that timespan after qualifying for the 2015 4A championship with a 47-13 win over an undefeated Marengo High School.
The Wildcats play Belleville Althoff for the state championship on Friday at 7 p.m. in DeKalb.
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