Friday night marked a tremendous win for the Simmons High School football team and new head coach, Jeremy Packer, in the Blue Devils’ long awaited season opener.
The Blue Devils dominated the Ethel Tigers who entered into Friday night’s matchup with a 1-2 record, 36-9.
Setting the tone early on, the Blue Devil offense punched in 14 points in the first quarter to the Tigers’ 3.
In their opening possession by way of a fumble recovery on the Tigers’ 19-yard line, Simmons’ sophomore quarterback Devontae Rush quickly capitalized with a 19-yard touchdown run.
The Ethel Tigers answered with a successful field goal after they were unable to overcome the Blue Devils’ goal-line stand, making the score 6-3 with 3 minutes left in the first quarter.
The “Rush” brothers, Devontae Rush and Vontrez Rush, commandeered Simmons’ ensuing possession as Vontrez rushed for 15 yards from the Tigers’ 47 and Devontate, 17, after the following snap.
Devontae topped the drive off with a 10-yard touchdown run and Vontrez a successful two-point conversion run, making the score 14-3 within less than a minute remaining.
The Blue Devil defense did not make it easy for the Tigers as they were unable to convert on crucial downs in the first half and were plagued by penalties.
The Blue Devils would be gifted with prime field position after a 27-yard run from junior running back Vontrez Rush ended with extra yards added on after a facemask penalty on a Tiger defender.
Devontae Rush completed the scoring drive with a 4-yard touchdown run up the middle and another two-point conversion to make the score 22-3.
Despite the Tigers’ best efforts to get points on the board with a few solid rushing attempts before the first half concluded, the last attempt ended with a loss of yards.
Simmons opened up the second half with a 22-yard touchdown run from Vontrez Rush.
In the opening possession of the second half alone, the Rush brothers racked up a combined 92 rushing yards, making the score 28-3 within the first two minutes of the third quarter.
Tigers’ quarterback Marcus Jones would finally connect with receiver Mike Miller for a 34-yard touchdown pass midway through the third quarter, but the two point attempt was unsuccessful, making the score 28-9.
Simmons quickly answered in what would be the last score of the game.
With the ball on the 50, quarterback Devontae Rush saw an opening and rushed for 50 yards down the field to the endzone.
He completed a pass to sophomore receiver Charles Mallard III for the two-point conversion which put Simmons up, 36-9.
A scoreless fourth quarter followed and marked the Simmons’ Blue Devils and coach Packer’s first win of the season.
Packer said he expected his team to play hard and he believes they did just that.
“Of course the expectation here at Simmons is a state championship and that’s what the community expects. As far as tonight, I just wanted them to play hard no matter what the outcome was and I believe they played hard,” Packer said.
He added, “Of course we’ve got a lot of stuff we need to fix going into next week, but I’m proud of them, they’ve played hard so we’ll just take the next step for next week.”
With Devontae Rush having spent most of last season out due to injury,
Packer was asked how he was able to get the best out of him and ready for this season.
“I just tried to put the ball in his hand and as we keep going on and on, just add more plays to where he's comfortable,” he shared, noting the Rush family is “big time” and does well for their team.