PSHS Iron Horses ready to tackle new football season
Circle the calendar. And circle the wagons. A year after the Philip Simmons High School football team posted a 7-1 record as a junior varsity program, the Iron Horses will field a varsity program in 2018, opening the season Aug. 17 with a home game against St. John’s.
Coach Eric Bendig said the recently completed spring practice went well and the numbers will only get better as the Iron Horses begin play in Region 6-AA.
“We had around 60 players out for spring practice,” said Bendig, who came to PSHS from Ashley Ridge, where he served as offensive coordinator. “Our roster last year was around 45. I expect with the transfers we are getting, the rising ninth graders and some kids who will come out for the first time due to our success and how we run our program to be around 70 to 80. That will give us enough to have a varsity and JV which is not very common these days in our current region except for programs like Timberland.”
The focus since last year’s season-ending win against Andrews has been to get better. A year later, Bendig reports his team will be faster, stronger and have more of an esprit-de-corps approach after its first season.
“I have seen a lot of improvement,” Bendig said. “We spent so much time on strength and conditioning work. Coach Sean McCarthy is our strength and conditioning coach. He had the boys lifting and running the Monday after our season ended. We worked to get our players as big and as fast and as strong as possible, and you can really see how much that has helped their confidence.”
The talent on campus will help as well. Quarterback Omaro Asby has experience in Bendig’s offense and opposing teams have experienced the wrath of running back Solomon Bess. But this is more than a tag-team effort.
“Omaro Asby has had a year under his belt at quarterback and really took a hold of that position over spring,” Bendig said. “He is a tremendous athlete who has a bright future ahead. Solly Bess is a running back who has the potential to be special. He is fast and quick but what sets him apart is his vision on the field. Our linemen have had great off seasons. Max Crites has put in a lot of work and has a great team-first mindset. He is one of our stork gear and biggest lineman. Tripp Williams is a freshman for us this year. He plays tight end and linebacker. He is one of the smartest and most mature young men I have ever coached and he is young. The sky is the limit for the kid.”
“Javier Collins Smith is a big physical player who plays linebacker with that demeanor you look for,” Bendig added. “R.J. Watson is one of the fastest players on our team. He has a bright future ahead at wide receiver and at safety. He has great hands and can really go after the jump balls. Felix Fryman is going to be a weapon for us as a kicker. He is one of the hardest workers in the program and he has really committed to his craft over the past year. Jaylan Richardson is one of the best DLs that we have right now in our program. He really has put on some strength this offseason and grown to be a great pass rusher on the DL. We have plenty of other guys who could step up and be great players and leaders but they all need to buy in to the overall process day in and day out to get the recognition that some of our other players get.”