Iron Horses' AD reflects on successful inaugural fall sports season
Brion Packett has done just about everything since he was named athletic director at the new Philip Simmons High School in December of 2016. Everything, that is, except slow down.
Packett oversaw construction of athletic facilities. He developed and executed budgets. He was involved in the hiring process of the school’s coaching staff and once that was completed, he helped recruit students at PSHS and its feeder systems to play sports. And, his tasks also included being a spokesman, touting the school’s athletic teams and their effects on the community to various civic groups.
Packett recently found time to stop and savor the school’s athletic success as the High School League’s athletic calendar transitioned from fall to winter sports. The school fielded teams in football, cross country, volleyball, girls’ tennis, swimming and spirit cheer and all had some level of success.
Packett said the school’s success in fall sports was “Everything I hoped for and even more. The success exceeded my expectations and I had high hopes from the beginning.”
The football team was junior varsity because the school has only freshmen and sophomores. The Iron Horses, coached by Eric Bendig, posted a 7-1 record and produced many players who have bright futures including running back Solomon Bess and quarterback Omaro Asby on offense and Javier Collins-Smith and R.J. Watson on defense. The team beat some traditionally good programs such as Wando, Bishop England, Stratford and Andrews.
The cross country team also fared well and has an extremely bright future. The Iron Horses finished in 13th place at the Class AA state meet as freshman Noah Ward became the first student-athlete to earn all-state honors. He finished fourth individually at the state meet. Teammate Thomas Schmeck also had an impressive year.
“Cross country far exceeded our expectations,” Packett said. “We started small and there was a point when we weren’t sure if we would have a girls’ and boys’ team.”
The volleyball team, coached by Jay Watterworth, had the honor of hosting the first playoff game in the school’s brief history when the Iron Horses hosted Latta on Oct. 18. The team was 10-12 overall, but captured second place in Region 6-AA with an 8-4 record. Latta topped the Iron Horses 3-0 in the first round of the playoffs.
Packett said the girls’ tennis team made positive strides and should benefit from some excellent coaching by Richard Shulz, a veteran with a good background. The team finished third in Region 6-AA and qualified for the playoffs.
Emmalee Fort earned the Coach’s Award, Autumn Fort received the Iron Horse Award, and Madison Bolig was the team MVP.
The swimming team experienced growing pains as the team had only five members. But coach Parish Wills was impressed with the team’s work ethic.
“It was a great fall,” Packett said. “We had the support of the parents, teachers and the community. The sky is the limit. The winter sports season will be easier on us because we have already experienced the growing pains. We’ve got that out of the way.”
Winter sports at PSHS include basketball, wrestling and cheering.