Simpson Defeats Leake Academy
The Simpson Academy Cougars made the long road trip to play Leake Academy in the opening contest of the 2012 football campaign.  Eerily similar to the margin of victory last year, Simpson prevailed by a score of 41-13.  With the victory came a sense of relief.
Playing your arch rival on the road in the opening game of the season with many kids playing a primary role for the first time, fans and coaches were not sure what to expect.  The Cougars handled the situation well.
According to Coach Billy Hankins "I'm happy to get off to a good start.  Happy to get the first win of the season, especially on the road.  It is a very long road trip to Leake.   Our conditioning was not what I would like but I thought we handled the heat and humidity ok."
Simpson entered the contest thinking they would need to rely heavily on their defense while the offense found its footing.  Up until this game, the running backs had served more in a back-up role and the quarterbacks had never played quarterback at the high school level.  The outstanding play of the offensive line was instrumental in assisting the skill players in gaining traction and improving throughout the contest.
Throughout the preseason, the coaching staff shuffled players along the line in attempt to find the consistency needed.  The changes helped as the line, with some linemen playing their first primary role as well, worked well together.  Ultimately, the play of Pat Benton, Chase Ainsworth, Matt Shows, Shane Brown, Todd Dupre', and Seth Batton along the line paved the way for the Cougar rushing attack which proved to be too much for Leake to handle
With just a minute to play in the first half, the Cougars had taken a 14-0 lead, thanks in part to a pair of touchdown runs by Michael Layton and Josh Hankins.  With under a minute remaining in the first half, the Cougars lined up to kickoff following the second score.  One minute to go to get to the locker room.
Unfortunately, Leake did not follow the script.  Leake fielded the kickoff at their own 28 yard line and 72 yards later, they were celebrating in the end zone.  Just like that, what had up until that point been a one sided ballgame in favor of the Cougars, had now become a competitive ball game.
Summing up the first half, Coach Hankins stated "We just needed to clean some things up at halftime.  I thought in the first half we could have put the game away if we eliminate a bad snap, penalties, just things that weren't very smart that I don't expect our teams to do.  We had a chance to go in at halftime 14-0 but gave them a little life with that kickoff return."
"In the second half, we eliminated our mistakes and scored three time times to put the game away." Hankins continued.
The Cougars extended their lead thanks in part to two more touchdown runs by Michael Layton and a 7 yard scoring run by Chris Sullivan.  The Cougars ability to put together scoring drives of 90 yards and 99 ½ yards were instrumental in winning the ballgame.
Jacob Allen added a score in the 4th quarter for the Cougars to extend their lead to 41-6.  A meaningless score by Leake, after mass defensive substitutions had been made, provided the final score of 41-13.
Up until Leake's final drive of the ballgame, which produced their only offensive points of the ball game, the Cougar defense had played outstanding.  Through 3 ½ quarters, Leake had only been able to produce 72 yards of total offense.  They added another 71 yards on their final drive, leaving the game with only 143 yards of rushing.
Michael Layton, who rushed for 160 yards and 3 touchdowns, single handedly outplayed the entire Leake offense.  Andrew Berry added 108 yards of his own on only 6 carries.  The quarterback tandem of Josh Hankins and Chris Sullivan combined for 64 yards.  Hankins completed both of the passes for the Cougars for a total of 9 yards.
When the dust had settled, the Cougars had out-gained the Rebels of Leake by almost 300 yards (435-143).  The defense forced Leake into two fumbles, 1 interception and was able to sack the Leake quarterback twice for a loss of 8 yards.
Triston Shivers led the Cougar defense with 4 tackles and 4 assists.  Tyler Sanford and Andrew Berry were each credited with 3 tackles and 4 assists.  Triston Shivers recovered one of the Leake fumbles while Josh Hankins had one fumble recovery and one interception.  Nate Ashley was credited with a sack.
The confidence gained by the Cougars will come in handy for their next opponent.   Presbyterian Christian School (PCS) will visit the Cougars this Friday looking to avenge last years loss.  PCS is the second largest school in the MAIS system.
Their size isn't limited to just their overall enrollment.  PCS features 3 offensive linemen in excess of 6'5" tall and over 260 pounds.  Behind the massive line, is a talented trio of running backs.  One back is a speedster, one back is a power runner and the other PCS back is a combination of the two.
In commenting on the next opponent, Hankins stated "It will be tough but we are looking forward to it. Looking forward to the challenge.  If our team can improve as much this week as we did last week, then we have a chance, which is all we want."
The kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 at Simpson Academy.  Prior to the start of the game, a brief ceremony will be held to honor the many contributions made to the athletic programs of Simpson Academy over the last 20 years by the late Greg Hall.
Team Captains:  Chris Sullivan, Todd Dupre', and Michael Layton
Cade Caughman prepares to make tackle
Nate Ashley makes tackle with Michael Layton coming to assist
Photographs by Dr. Tommy Blackledge