Simmons High School football coach Timothy Johnson knew he had a special athlete in Vontrez Rush before the season started; however, even he was surprised at the immediate impact Rush made.
Rush, a 5-foot-9, 140-pound sophomore with blazing speed, rushed for 106 yards in the first game of the season against Amanda Elzy. He got even better as the year progressed and finished with 1,332 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns. Rush had his best game of the year Sept. 27 against Ethel High School, a fourth straight victory for Simmons, that saw Rush carry the ball for 231 yards on 11 carries and three touchdowns.
Because of the immediate impact Rush made for the Blue Devils this season, he has been named the Delta Democrat-Times Newcomer of the Year.
“I thought because of his size Vontrez would be a great slot player for us this season,” Coach Johnson said. “But when we needed him to come in and play running back for us because of an injury, he showed what a truly talented player he is. He had a great season, and we are truly blessed to have him on our team.”
Earlier this season after his big game against Ethel, Rush said it motivates him when people underestimate him.
“It feels good to prove people wrong,” Rush said. “People tell me I am too little, and they are surprised that I play football. But, they don’t know how quick I am and how hard I work on getting better.”
Rush is just one of a number of talented underclassmen the Blue Devils had on their squad this season.
Last season's Simmons team, which had the nation’s longest active winning streak and advanced all the way to the MHSAA Class 2A State Championship Game, lost 21 seniors to grduation.
The goal this offseason, said Coach Johnson, is for players on his team, like Rush, to hit the wight room in order to get both faster and stronger.
“The sky is the limit,” Coach Johnson said.