The Simley Spartans started a new era of football this year under the direction of first year Head Coach Chris Mensen. Coach Mensen focuses on five Spartan Values as the core in his coaching to develop uncommon young men of high integrity on and off the field. The Spartan Values are Team, Hard Work, Toughness, Accountability, and Excellence. The young men of Simley High School have taken these values to heart as they guide their determination and focus on the field of play and in the classroom.
No Place was this more evident than on Friday night as the Spartans faced crosstown rival South St. Paul. The Spartans have fallen to the Packers in their last 14 games spanning a time period of over 10 years since the last Spartan Victory.
Coming off a 35-12 victory over DeLaSalle, the Spartans seemed to be fighting against ghosts of seasons past as well as a physically imposing Packers team playing in their home opener. However, the Spartans stopped the Packers on their first possession of the game and drove 76 yards down the field before settling for a field goal to take an early 3-0 lead. The drive was highlighted by a 36 yard strike through the air from Senior Quarterback Shane Prifrel to fellow Senior Crist Pugh.
The Spartans continued to stymie the Packer Offense throughout the first half of the game. While the offense made several drives but could not score, until Prifrel connected on another strike through the air to Sophomore RJ Jioklow for a 54 yard pass and catch. Senior Jamonte Franklin finished the drive off with a 1 yard plunge into the endzone for the Spartans. On the extra point attempt, a broken play lead to Junior Justin Warrick throwing a 3 yard pass to Freshman Gavin Nelson for a 2 point score. The Spartans lead the Packers 11-0 with time winding down in the half.
The Packers finally got on the board with a long pass to set up a score with little time left in the half. The Packers attempted to close the gap on a two point conversion after the score, but the Spartans defense snapped back to form and made a huge stop. The Spartans went into halftime holding onto an 11-6 lead as well as the pressure of ending the grip South St. Paul held over the series.
The Spartans came out of halftime with a full head of steam driving the ball down the field quickly looking to add to their lead. However, a fumble followed by a loss of power at Ettinger field left the Spartans staggering and unable to regain momentum. When the power was finally restored, the Packers seemed to come alive with the lights. They pushed the Simley offense off the field drive after drive and used another deep pass to catapult past the Spartans taking a 12-11 lead.
The Packer defense stood stout against the Simley attack, and their offense was poised to extend the lead when Senior Hope Adebayo stripped and recovered the ball from the South St. Paul Quarterback late in the fourth quarter. This lead to an aerial and ground assault by the Spartans that spanned 60 yards ending with a 23 yard touchdown pass from Senior Shane Prifrel to no other than Senior Hope Adebayo. The Spartans 2 point conversion attempted failed, but left them with a 17-12 lead with just over two minutes left to play.
The Spartans needed a strong performance in the final two minutes to close out the game. They got just that on the ensuing kickoff when Junior Bennett Tabor came up with a fumble recovery to give the Spartans back the ball. The Spartan Offense marched onto the field and drove the ball 20 yards before being able to take a knee to run the clock down to zero.
Students stormed the field to celebrate the victory with their team and community. The victory allowed the Spartans to exercise over 10 years worth of demons and struggles against a stout South St. Paul team. It also may be a small look into what the future holds for the Spartans and future teams under new Head Coach Chris Mensen.
The Spartans move to 2-0 on the season with their home opener coming up this Friday, September 13th against North St. Paul. Followed by their Homecoming game against Hill-Murray on Friday, September 20th.