Chris Simpson's Maplewood teammates call him "King Simp."
He earned the nickname more than ever on Friday night as the senior quarterback rushed for 105 yards and two touchdowns to help lead the Panthers to a 13-0 home win over neighborhood rival Hunters Lane, making Maplewood again "Kings of Dickerson Road."
While Simpson did his thing on offense, the Panthers defense remained dominant. Maplewood held the Warriors (3-1) to 154 yards total offense and only allowed Hunters Lane star Erik Wisdom 51 yards rushing. The Panthers' first-string defense has not yet given up a point this season.
"Everybody on this team has the same goals," Simpson said. "We want to win a state championship this year. That's our mindset."
The Panthers (3-0) can take another big step toward that goal next week with a huge region clash against Hillsboro at Maplewood. That game will feature Hillsboro's high-octane offense against the Panthers' suffocating defense.
Hunters Lane learned all about that defense on Friday. The Warriors entered Friday's game averaging 33.6 points per game and got blanked. Wisdom, the Warriors' leading rusher, entered the game averaging 132 yards and more than a touchdown per game. Of the 51 yards he gained rushing, 16 came on one carrry late in the fourth quarter with Hunters Lane trailing by two touchdowns.
"[The defense] plays yard and they run well to the ball," said Maplewood coach Ralph Thompson. "If they make mistakes, they can make up for it with raw speed."
Thompson said he knew his defense would be extra aggressive against the rival Warriors.
"We told the guys — nobody's hit them in the mouth," Thompson said. "They've been the bullies [on offense]."
Simpson got the Panthers on the board with a 17-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Dominique Howard's point-after kick was good to make it a 7-0 game.
It stayed that way until early in the fourth, when Simpson dashed 30 yards to finish the scoring.
Markus Cantrell, whose brother Marquez plays for Hunters Lane, ran for 57 yards and helped keep the Hunters Lane defense from focusing on Simpson.
"This was a big ol' game, we handled our business," Cantrell said. "Our quarterback Chris Simpson did a good job. The defense, man, they're unbelivable."