Philip Simmons dominates Burke in 43-22 win
The Philip Simmons High School Football team continues to make impressive strides as the state playoff curtain rises.
The Iron Horses, only in their second year as a varsity program, concluded the regular season with a 43-22 Region 6-AA victory over the Burke Bulldogs. It gave the Iron Horses a 4-5 record as the regular season concluded. The Iron Horses went 2-8 last fall in their first season.
“It was a huge victory,” Philip Simmons coach Eric Bendig said. “It was the first senior night in our program’s history and we recognized 13 players. Obviously, we knew we were already in the playoffs, but we wanted to get a win in the final regular-season game of the season and have some momentum heading into the playoffs. We came out and played our best game of the year. We were physical and athletic.”
The Iron Horses finished 4-5, including 3-1 in Region 6-AA after Oceanside Collegiate forfeited its game. The Iron Horses were expected to be a No. 3 seed, but were bumped up to the No. 2 seed from the region when Oceanside Collegiate fell to the No. 4 seed because it used an ineligible player. Philip Simmons is scheduled to host Whale Branch High School at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
While the Iron Horses set a record with three victories this fall, Solly Bess set a single-season school record in the victory. He carried 25 times for 193 yards and four touchdowns. That gives him a school record of 650 yards rushing for the season, while his seven rushing touchdowns tie the school record, set last year by Javier Collins-Smith.
“Coming into the season, he was ready to go, but he suffered a shoulder injury,” Bendig said of Bess. “We didn’t rush him back, and we played him here and there to get him ready for the region. He’s been in full gear during region play and is as strong and explosive as ever. He’s gotten stronger and faster and has put up some impressive numbers.”
With Bess pounding the Bulldogs on the ground, the Iron Horses didn’t have to test the air attack much, completing only 2 of 9 passing for 14 yards. The Iron Horses tallied 309 yards in total offense on 57 plays.
The defense has shown much improvement this fall and that was evident as the Iron Horses won for the second time in their last three games.
Junior Tyler Harper continues to shine on defense. He logged 14 tackles, including eight solos. He had five tackles for a loss. Kiamani Denmark had two tackles and picked off a pass.
“We’re doing the right things at the right time,” Bendig said of his team’s improvement.” We did the little things and that gave us an edge. We stuck to our guns and weren’t forced to change things. We went into the game with a fully-stocked team. We are healthy.”
He added, “Now that the playoffs are here, there’s a sense of a little more urgency. We have to prepare like we always do and focus on ourselves – and the opponent. We have to prepare like we always do or else it could be the last Monday we’re together. We have to prepare like there’s no tomorrow.”