BOONVILLE - When first-year starting quarterback Zach Freed went down with mono earlier this month, Starmount head coach Scott Johnson need someone to step up and fill the void under center.
In stepped senior tailback Will Simpson.
The anchor of the Rams’ deep running back corps, Johnson called upon Simpson to take the reigns of the offense while Freed recovered.
Not only has the senior succeeded in the role, he’s ultimately thrived.
Simpson has powered Starmount to back-to-back thrilling victories in rivalry games to, not only maintain bragging rights in the area, but to keep the Rams (3-2, 1-0) in title contention after two early non-conference losses.
“You have a kid who played offensive line growing up. He moved to running back in middle school and has been one our better backs coming through. We had to move him to quarterback and he said ‘Yes, sir. Whatever you need me to do,’” Johnson explained following Starmount’s 21-14 victory over county rival Forbush earlier this month.
“He’s obviously limited with some of the things he can do throwing the ball. But he did everything we asked him to do. His leadership has been the difference for us,” he added.
Simpson paced the Rams against Forbush in the Unifi Bowl with 151 yards on the ground on just 13 carries (11.6 yards per carry), finding the endzone three times, including racing 61 yards for the game-winning score.
The senior came up big once again in Friday’s Battle of the Bridge, capping a 21-point comeback after seeing Elkin jump out to a 21-7 victory in the first quarter.
Simpson once again broke off an eventual 60-yard, game-winning touchdown run to lead the Rams to victory. He finished with 131 yards on the ground on 13 rushes (10.1 yards per carry), garnering high praise from Johnson.
“You love to see kids grow up and grow into roles,” he explained after seeing his team fight back to top Elkin, 35-21. “He’s not a talker, he’s a very quiet kid. He’s very humble and quiet, but he’s growing into a leader like what we’ve had here - I can name several from last year and the year before - he’s just growing into the role, and they’re following him. You can try to be a leader, but if they wont follow you, you’re just wasting your time.
“I’m just extremely proud of him.”
For his efforts in both rivalry match-ups, Simpson received Most Valuable Player honors in each game.
With Freed’s return under center in the third quarter of Friday’s game, Simpson will move back to his familiar position in the backfield.
But the senior will look to continue his recent hot streak on the field, while carrying the flag for a young Rams squad.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.