Simley football upsets undefeated Tartan

The Tartan high school football team traveled to Simley Sept. 28, with hopes to continue its impressive undefeated season. 

However, the Spartans had something else in mind during its homecoming, and finally notched a well deserved 13-0 win. 

“I felt that our kids played to their full potential,” Simley head coach Rex King said. “We knew our kids could play this way since camp in June.”

Simley got on the board in the first quarter when senior quarterback Wyatt Rogers recovered a high snap and found senior wideout Cole Tschida wide open for a 16-yard touchdown. The extra point by junior Shane Prifrel lifted the Spartans to a 7-0 lead. 

The next, and last scoring drive came in the second quarter when Rogers connected with senior tailback Alec Frederick for a 41-yard touchdown. That score gave the Spartans some insurance, and although the extra point was missed, it still gave Simley a 13-0 lead. 

Tartan struggled on both sides of the ball for the duration of the game. The Titans couldn’t get any momentum, and whatever momentum the team picked up was quickly taken away. For example, Tartan scored a touchdown four plays into the second half, but the play was called back because of an illegal man downfield.

Another momentum swing came late in the third quarter when Tartan had the ball around midfield. It was fourth down, and only about a yard or two to go, maybe less, when the quarterback hiked the ball and immediately ran up the middle. A Spartan defender was there to pop the ball loose, and turn the ball over.

“Every team will see adversity, a lot of that is mental that can’t be coached, that’s why we lost,” said Tartan head coach Matt Diediker. 

That was all the excitement, as the remainder of the game was a defensive showdown. Tartan has averaged at least 200 yards rushing and about 100 yards passing per game. Simley shut the Tartan offense down during all four quarters, holding the Titans to only 91 total yards on offense. 

Tartan senior quarterback Solomon Whalen completed five passes out of 19 attempts for 29 yards and an interception. Whalen managed to gain 43 rushing yards off nine attempts. Senior wideout Antwan Kimmons caught three of those passes for 17 yards. Kimmons also managed an interception. Seniors Shaquille Young, Carter Thuringer and junior Randy Keumogne all had eight total tackles. 

King said Simley only keeps track of the scoring drives, the information that the newspapers need. The team doesn’t keep track of individual stats, because King doesn’t want his players to get distracted.

Before Tartan took the loss against Simley, the Titans were 4-0, and the team had outscored its previous opponents 163-13. The Spartans are the first team to hand Tartan a loss this season, and the first team to put up more than seven points against its defense. 

“I knew Tartan was going to be one of the more dangerous teams we face this season, with all the weapons and coaching they have over there,” King said. “The guys showed they can play with good teams.”

Simley’s performance this year has not reflected the way the Spartans would want. Simley now sits at 2-3 overall and 1-2 in the Suburban Grey Conference. The Spartans lost by a single score in two of those three losses. Simley played right with Hastings, a team that is 4-1 and sits near the top of its conference. The Spartans fell short 14-6. 

Simley also played South St. Paul earlier in the year, a team that has a similar record as the Spartans. The game was decided by one point, with Simley falling just short, 13-14. After dropping those two games, King said Simley’s coaching staff emphasized throughout the week in preparation for Tartan a focus on the small things. 

“We lost to Tartan by one point last year, and had one-score games against Hastings and South St. Paul this year,” King said. “If we focus on the little stuff, then hopefully we can win the war.”

Both teams only have three games remaining before the playoffs begin the week of Oct. 23. Tartan has two tough contests against one-loss teams. The Titans played Hastings Oct. 5, after press time for this edition of the Review, and will head to Mahtomedi on Oct. 12. Tartan closes its season out against Park Center on Oct. 17. 

Simley has a solid chance to win its last two of three games. The Spartans faced winless Hill-Murray Oct. 5, after press time, and will head to Henry-Sibley on Oct. 12. The Spartans finish the season on the road against Park of Cottage Grove on Oct. 17.

 

-Lucas Ailport can be reached at roseville@lillienews.com.

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