High School Sports

Targeted Tiger: Rockachaws look to limit Simmons' impact

ROGELIO V. SOLIS/ASSOCIATED PRESS 
 Noxubee County's Jeffery Simmons scored a 17-yard touchdown, blocked a punt and recorded six tackles in last year's Class 4A title game against St. Stanislaus. The Rockachaws will look to limit the standout's impact on Saturday.
ROGELIO V. SOLIS/ASSOCIATED PRESS Noxubee County's Jeffery Simmons scored a 17-yard touchdown, blocked a punt and recorded six tackles in last year's Class 4A title game against St. Stanislaus. The Rockachaws will look to limit the standout's impact on Saturday. AP

BAY ST. LOUIS - The Rockachaws know firsthand what they're up against.

St. Stanislaus has spent the better part of the last 12 months envisioning Saturday's Class 4A football championship rematch against Noxubee County (11-4 overall).

Specifically, the Rocks (11-4) have targeted senior standout Jeffery Simmons. Problem is, everyone else has attempted to nullify the standout defensive end and all he's done this season is rack up 101 tackles with 15 sacks.

"We're going to have to do a really good job of blocking him. He's bigger than he was last year, about 270 (pounds)," SSC coach Bill Conides said. "He's a big, strong kid who is really athletic and can be extremely disruptive in the passing game and the run game as well.

"We've got to do a good job of getting in position to block him."

Conides said some teams have attempted to run away from Simmons, which has in turn made them one dimensional. Instead, he said the Rockachaws won't be afraid to go after the state's top senior recruit.

"A lot of people don't block him and I think that's a mistake," Conides said. "We're going to try everything in our power to block him every single snap and just give us just enough time to get the football off and run the ball effectively as well. I think that's going to be a big deal."

Seems like big words, but Conides admits he has learned from last year's 48-27 loss. In the game, Simmons made an impact in each phase of the game. He was credited with six tackles and half a sack, but he also blocked a punt and caught a 17-yard touchdown.

"Last year, I'll be honest, we kind of under estimated him. We thought we could just do what we do because we didn't really get a good look at him on film," he said. "We didn't realize how fast he was but now we know."

While Simmons, who is being recruited by Alabama, Mississippi State and Ole Miss, has been a point of emphasis, the Tigers are more than just one player defensively.

Senior linebacker Quendarion Barnett leads the team with 155 tackles and is one of five players with at least four sacks. Senior safety Daveon Bell is also among the state's leaders in interceptions with 12.

"Every time they're going to bring at least five guys, so we've got to do a good job of figuring out where that (Simmons) is from depth and throw off of him," Conides said. "We have to know that, hey, this guys is coming so lets go make a play in space. If we can just get five yards a play and be positive, ultimately we're going to win the game."

Saturday's kickoff at Ole Miss' Vaught-Hemingway Stadium is set for 3 p.m. The game will be televised on WLOX Bounce 13.3 and streamed online at misshsaa.tv.

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