Sumrall quarterback Will Simon is ranked third in the nation in passing yards this season with 4,074, according to maxpreps.com. / Ryan Moore/Hattiesburg American
Sumrall quarterback Will Simon has helped lead his team to an 8-4 overall record, and the program's first playoff victory since 1988. / Ryan Moore/Hattiesburg American
Ask any athlete whether they’d rather put up mind-blowing individual statistics or win a championship, more often than not they’ll opt for the latter.
Will Simon is no different.
But sometimes, Sumrall’s senior quarterback can’t help himself.
“I like to look at (maxpreps.com) a little bit,” Simon said. “But not really. We’re trying to get to state. That’s my goal.”
Sumrall won its first playoff game in nearly a quarter-century (since 1988) last week, and led by Simon, the Bobcats are thinking big.
Win or lose, though, Simon has already put together the type of season a quarterback dreams of. The type of season most signal-callers never get to experience.
Simon currently ranks third in the nation with 4,074 passing yards this season — just two yards from ranking second in the country.
Not too shabby for someone that had only started two games in his high school career before this season. Simon broke his leg in the second game of the 2011 season and missed the rest of the year.
“He came into this season really with one game under his belt,” Sumrall head coach Shannon White said. “I think about it somtimes — if he’d been healthy last year, how much better he’d be this year.”
A scary thought, considering what Simon has done in 12 games this season.
Aside from the 4,074 passing yards, he’s thrown for 41 touchdowns (easily tops in Mississippi) and Simon is also Sumrall’s third-leading rusher and has run for three more scores.
“After getting hurt in the second quarter of the second game (last year), I wanted to have a big year,” the 5-foot-10 Simon said. “It’s a good feeling (to be playing so well), and it’s an honor. I don’t really know what else to say.”
Simon credits his offensive line and receiving corps for helping him accumulate such gaudy numbers. He’s had the luxury of throwing to Division 1 college prospects Austin and Devontae Watts, as well as James Jackson, Connor Landrum, Nate Hudson and Ken Williams, all of whom have more than 200 yards receiving.
Some argue Simon’s numbers are the product of the wide open, pass-heavy, spread offense Sumrall employs. White scoffs at that notion.
“If you’ve got a kid with a strong arm, and he’s accurate, you kind of owe it to him to throw it deep,” said White, who was Chicago Bears quarterback Jason Campbell’s head coach at Taylorsville. “I don’t even know what a system quarterback is, other than somebody who throws short, controlled routes.”
As gifted as Simon is physically, White would argue he’s equally as impressive between the ears.
“We have a very extensive playbook,” he said. “It takes us all day, every day on our routes. But you can’t get anything by him. That’s the thing that most people probably don’t know about him.”
Sumrall began the season 2-3, with a 26-point loss to Seminary coming in the fifth game. Simon said following the blowout loss to the Bulldogs, questions were raised internally about whether the team’s offensive game plan was working or not.
“But we all got together and talked, and realized we were dropping a lot of balls and not doing what we were supposed to,” said Simon, also a standout shortstop on the Sumrall baseball team. “So we changed our practice habits and got a lot more focused.
“Now, we all have one goal.”
Which is winning.
Simon said after transferring to Sumrall from PCS two years ago, he was well educated in the Bobcats’ recent history of postseason fruitlessness. But he and his teammates are intent on leaving all of that in the past.
Next up for Sumrall in the Class 3A state playoffs is undefeated Hazlehurst, which the Bobcats will host at 7 p.m. Friday.
“We all know winning last week is a big deal for the community, but we’re not worried about one win,” Simon said. “We’re trying to win playoff games. We’re trying to go all the way. We’re not satisfied with just one (playoff) win.”