As a running back and linebacker, Nayshin Simmons plays every down for Towson High School’s football team — a rarity for a sophomore.
Going into Saturday’s game against Dulaney, Towson coach Ryan Pittillo said the youngster wanted to play special teams as well. Barely coming off the field, Simmons ran for 222 yards on 22 carries, scored five touchdowns and made 12 tackles in the 42-36 win, the first in three years for the Generals in their rivalry game.
“I think the most impressive thing — his stats are one thing, to carry the ball that much and turn around and play middle linebacker is pretty incredible for a sophomore — he’s one of those kids who always wants to be on the field. We like to give him a rest on kickoffs, but this week he came to the coaching staff and asked to be on the kickoff team just to make sure we get this win,” said first-year coach Pittillo.
Simmons, 5-feet-10, 190 pounds, has gained well over 100 yards in each of the first three games. He ran for 166 yards and two touchdowns in a 40-10 win over Chesapeake-BC and then ran for 88 yards on 19 carries and caught three passes for 125 yards in last week’s 40-0 loss to Perry Hall.
And this is his first year of high school football.
“He played rec football last year,” Pittillo said, “so he went from rec to varsity and kept right on going. He’s an incredible kid — his work ethic and his maturity on the football field, his football IQ is really high. He’s played football for a while. He’s just a good, tough kid. He’s just so competitive and wants to win. I think that’s what makes him as good is.”
Francis Scott Key off to the hottest start in 14 years
Last season, Francis Scott Key won just one game, but that win, in the season finale, has catapulted the Eagles to a 3-0 start for the first time since 2003, when coach Josh Rutter was a senior.
The Eagles haven’t won three games in a season since 2007 and haven’t made the playoffs since 2006. Now, they share the Baltimore area’s longest winning streak. Granted, that’s only four, but it means a lot to a program that has struggled to regain its footing.
Last year, in his first season as head coach, Rutter knew it would take time.
“We didn’t have a large senior class. We didn’t have an off-season really to implement the weight room like we wanted to and at the end of last season, when we won that game, we told the guys, ‘Hey, we’ve got a formula to get this turned around if you guys are willing to put the work in. I think you’ve got a lot of talent, we just have to close the gap in terms of strength in the weight room and getting guys out.’”
The Eagles have just 25 on the roster and Rutter said a core of 20 showed up consistently for weight training and summer camp. A lot of players who contributed last season have matured into strong players.
Led by one of the county’s top running backs, Nate Imes, who has 444 yards on 42 carries with seven touchdowns, the Eagles have outscored Northeast, Berkeley Springs, W.Va., and Patterson Mill, 134-55, after scoring just 120 points all of last season. Quarterback Jake Pirrung has thrown five touchdown passes — one fewer than the Eagles scored all of last season.
Running back Bobby Sylves and receiver Steven Keeney as well as offensive linemen Kane Richardson, also the team’s leading tackler at middle linebacker, and Will Sturdivant, who often leads the run, have also been key to the offensive turnaround.
Rutter said the strong start has helped his players gain confidence but now, the Eagles move into the Carroll County league where the competition will get stronger. Friday night, they travel to Century, which beat Key 48-0 last season.
“We’ve been excited for the first three games and we’ve been really focused on them,” Rutter said, “but now that it’s in the county, it’s a little sweeter if we can get a couple wins there and continue to play well, because these are the guys they go to the tech center and have classes with and they compete with in other sports. The talk has been, for the past few years, ‘Oh, you’ve got FSK this week. Pencil that one in as a win.’ Now I think we’ve at least opened some eyes because we haven’t exactly been squeaking by teams. … Our guys are getting a taste of success and the hope is that we have the opportunity to carry that over into the county.”
All-America jersey tour to stop at St. Frances Tuesday
St. Frances’ Eyabi Anoma and Jaelyn Duncan will receive their Under Armour All-America jerseys Tuesday morning when the three-month selection tour stops by the East Baltimore school.
Defensive end Anoma and offensive tackle Duncan are among just over 100 high school football players selected for the Under Armour All-America Football Game on Jan. 4 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. The game will be televised live on ESPN2.
Anoma, a second-team All-Metro selection last season, is rated the No. 4 overall player in the Class of 2018 in the ESPN 300. He is No. 2 among defensive ends. Duncan, a transfer from Northern High in Calvert County, is rated No. 64 overall and No. 6 among offensive tackles.
McDonogh’s PJ. Mustipher, an All-Metro first team selection and the No. 12 defensive tackle, will also play in the game, but he will receive his jersey at a later date.
By The Numbers
3 Touchdowns scored by Milford Mill’s Desmond Shell within three minutes in the first quarter of Saturday’s 55-6 win over Randallstown
192 Yards receiving by Franklin’s A’ssanti Kearney, who caught five passes and scored three touchdowns in Friday’s 38-28 win at Smyrna, Del.
883 Yards passing in three games by Perry Hall’s Tyler Holley, who has thrown 10 touchdown passes without an interception