A Maplewood High assistant coach ran by an interview conversation and said, “remember, we’ve got a pretty good candidate for Mr. Football, too.’’
Indeed the Panthers do. It comes in the package of 5-9, 170-pound quarterback Chris Simpson, who led host Maplewood to a 19-6 two-quarter victory over Hillwood Thursday night in the 39th annual Metro Jamboree.
The coach’s statement was in reference to press that Hillsboro back Jacquese Seward has received for the Mr. Football award in anticipation of an expected super senior season.
Simpson juked, darted and zig-zagged his way for TD runs of 32 and 10 yards, both in the first quarter which proved the difference in the game.
“We wanted to come out and show what we could do offensively and defensively,’’ said Simpson. “As for pressure, I think there’s pressure on all of us, the seniors just need to step up and show the way.
“One thing we have to do better is to have more discipline. We had at least five flags (penalties), and that’s too much. But we’re ready to get started.’’
In the opening two quarters, it was another QB — Antioch’s Terrence Davis — who guided the Bears on their opening drive. He scored himself on a 7-yard run, providing the difference in a 7-0 win over Whites Creek.
Simpson and his Maplewood team meet Memphis Trezevant in the second half of the first Music City Classic doubleheader next Saturday, Aug. 25 at 8 p.m. on the Panthers’ field. Pearl-Cohn faces Memphis East in the opener at 5.
After Simpson’s first TD, Hillwood’s Dequandre Ward provided the most electrifying play of the night on a sweep, breaking tackle after tackle, then bolting down the left sidelines for a 65-yard TD.
“What I wanted to see in this (the Jamboree) was some fight by our guys, and for the most part, I thought I did,’’ said first-year coach Mose Phillips. “I thought at times, we played well against a very good team.’’
“I know Mose well, and those guys will play hard for him,’’ said Maplewood coach Ralph Thompson. “It’s a building process. My teams were 3-7, 0-10, 0-10 before we turned it around.’’
“We’ll just practice and work that much harder,’’ said Hillwood senior Wesley Jackson, expected to be the Toppers’ top receiver.
In the opening segment, Davis directed an opening drive, connecting on passes to receivers Dontel Watkins and Dashawn Stallworth in the win over Whites Creek. He darted into the end zone for the lone score with 6:12 left in the opening quarter.
“I feel like I’m a dual threat, running and passing,’’ Davis said. “I have some outstanding receivers, which really helps. We have to be ready because we have some tough games in MBA and Riverdale right out the gate.’’
The Bears’ defense took over from there, recovering three Cobra fumbles. Meanwhile, the Bears’ second team missed clicking on all cylinders. Nikko Sowell had a good run for Whites Creek.
“Our O (offense) did well early, and defense was good for the most part,’’ said Antioch coach Mike Woodward. “But we hurt ourselves with mistakes later on.’’