The Simmons football team may be at a disadvantage when their football season finally begins on Oct. 16 against Ethel High School, but this does not mean the Blue Devils are willing to make excuses.
Led by new head coach Jeremy Packer, the Blue Devils started practicing for the first time this week. Packer’s Devils are scheduled to play three games this season, and all three of their opponents will be in late-to-mid season form. After their home opener against Ethel, the Devils will travel to McAdams on Oct. 23 before another home game against Humphreys County on Oct. 30. Packer said a fourth game to end the regular season may be added as well.
“Of course, we are at a disadvantage because we have not played yet while our opponents have, but we are going to lean on our defense at first and then go from there,” Coach Packer said. “The kids are excited to get back on the field, and we all know what the tradition here means. The community expects us to play good football.”
While the start to his head coaching tenure has been filled with uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Packer said he is thankful for how the Hollandale community has welcomed him with open arms.
“I have to give thanks to Jarvis Williams (defensive coordinator) and Demetric Warren (assistant head coach). They both have been here and helped me put these things together,” Coach Packer said.
Simmons players, like lineman Tymon Wells, say, despite the obstacles in their way, they have full confidence that Coach Packer and his staff will lead them to success.
“Our coaches are doing a great job in leading us,” Wells said. “We want to get back to the playoffs and get back to competing for state championships. It is going to take a lot of hard work, but we know that we can do it.”
While Coach Packer is new to the program, it did not take him long to see the talent he has on his team. Two of the Blue Devils’ key weapons will be brothers Vontrez and Devonte Rush.
Vontrez, a junior, burst onto the scene last year and rushed for 1,328 on his way to being named the Delta Democrat-Times’ newcomer of the year.
“Vontrez should be real big for us,” Coach Packer said. “We are going to try and get him the ball and put him out in space. We are going to maximize his ability, and he has a chance to be great not just on this level but at the next level.”
Devonte, meanwhile, is a sophomore with many of the same game-breaking talents of his brother. Along with junior Jermaine Edwards, the three will make up a dynamic backfield for the Blue Devils.
“Devonte has all the natural tools, and he will share reps at quarterback with Jermaine,” Coach Packer said. “Devonte has a lot of arm strength and the ability to run. Vontrez, Devonte and Jermaine are interchangeable, and they are all going to be able to make a lot of plays in space for us. Of course, we are at Simmons so we have a lot of kids that can make plays for us.”
Coach Packer was a star athlete at Madison Central High School in football, basketball and track. A wide receiver, he then went on to become a Junior College-All American at Holmes Community College. He spent his final two years playing college football at Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C.
Before arriving at Simmons, Packer’s was the offensive coordinator at Velma Jackson High School the last four years. Before that, he was the offensive coordinator at Long Beach High School.