It might just be the defining moment of the Philip Simmons High School football program so far.
In front of a huge home-field crowd against a huge rival team, the Iron Horses showed athleticism, mettle and emotion to defeat Bishop England to remain perfect at 4-0.
And, the Iron Horses did it the hard way in beating the Bishops for the first time in their short history last Friday, Sept. 10. The scoreboard read BE 12, PSHS 0, in the first quarter after Westin Peterson and Ryan Finlayson scored touchdowns. It seemed the Bishops were ready to rumble for another score. So much in fact, Philip
Simmons’ coach Eric Bendig was formulating the words he would choose to tell his team that it was possible to come back from a three-touchdown deficit.
Then it happened. Tristan Skipper scooped up a fumble deep inside the Iron Horses’ red zone and raced 90 yards to a touchdown to change the momentum, and outcome, of the game.
“He really changed the course of the game,” Bendig said of Skipper, who decided to play football this fall in addition to being a star pitcher on the baseball team. “We were making mental mistakes, we fumbled and we did this and that wrong. I was worried that we might start to press and that the air might come out of the stadium.
“In one play, he helped turn the game around,” Bendig added. “We hunkered down and started rolling.”
Skipper has a good arm on the baseball diamond and good hands on the gridiron. His second big play of the game was a 38-yard TD reception from quarterback Tripp Williams, who was 10 for 22 passing for 95 yards while adding 50 yards and a score on the ground.
Philip Simmons’ varsity program came to life in 2018 and the Iron Horses dropped their first-ever meeting against BE 32-16. The Bishops won 27-17 in 2019 and 14-2 in 2020. The Iron Horses hit paydirt this year.
The Bishops fell to 0-4. It marked the first time since 2014 that BE opened the season with four consecutive losses. Offense, or lack thereof, is a main concern for coach John Cantey and his staff. The Bishops are averaging 7.9 points per game while allowing 21.
Hunter Ramey had a big game defensively to lead the Iron Horses with 11 tackles, including one for a loss.
Senior Andrew Tawes led Bishop England with 14 tackles, including seven solos and caused a fumble. Linebackers Makus Mauldin and Doom Dennis both tallied 11 tackles with five solos in solid performances.
The Bishops travel to Timberland on Sept. 17 to conclude the non-conference part of their schedule. After an open date on Sept. 23, they will begin Region 8-AAA play on Oct. 1 against Oceanside Collegiate Academy.
Philip Simmons, which has outscored foes 132-26 this season, will play another rival, Hanahan, on Sept. 17. Then the Iron Horses begin Region 6-AA play against Burke at home Oct. 1.