Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 28
 
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
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SNAP JUDGMENT: Former Princeton High football star Jordan Simpson prepares to snap the ball in the 12th annual Sunshine Football Classic last Wednesday. Simpson’s fine play on the line helped the East all-stars to a 19-14 win over the West. It was the last game of Simpson’s football career as he is heading to the Culinary Institute of America this fall.

PHS Standout Simpson Enjoys Football Finale, Helping East to Victory in Sunshine Classic

Bill Alden

Waving his helmet and hollering out extended whoops, former Princeton High star lineman Jordan Simpson led the cheers last Wednesday night after the East all-star squad prevailed in the Sunshine Football Classic.

While most players in the all-star game will be playing in college and can look ahead to future gridiron battles, Simpson’s emotions ran a bit deeper as the Sunshine game marked the end of his football career because he is headed to the Culinary Institute of America this fall.

The 6’1, 220-pound Simpson broke into a broad grin as he reflected on the final chapter of his football career.

“This is the last football game of my career and I can’t be any more happier about coming out on top,” said Simpson, who played center in the contest at The College of New Jersey’s Lions Stadium, which saw the East post a 19-14 win over the West before a crowd of 3,098.

“It’s just a great experience, I enjoyed my coaches and my teammates. I’m proud of everybody that won something tonight.”

Simpson was proud of how the East performed out of the gate as it jumped out to a 12-0 first quarter lead on a safety by WW/P-S’s Ian Simon, a 43-yard touchdown run by Quentin Loftin of Florence, and a 24-yard field goal by Hamilton’s Ricky Nuel.

The West fought back as South Hunterdon’s Kyle Hart scored on a two-yard touchdown plunge in the second quarter to help narrow the gap to 12-7 at halftime.

A two-yard run in the third quarter by Nottingham’s Sawo Viah pushed the East lead back to 19-7.

The game tightened up down the stretch as West quarterback DeVon Hill of Trenton electrified the crowd with a 35-yard touchdown gallop with 2:47 left in the fourth quarter to make the score 19-14. The East, however, was able to hold on for the win.

In Simpson’s view, the East’s victory was due to the chemistry that quickly formed among the team’s players.

“It’s a lot of discipline, we played around a little bit but our coaches did a really good job of bringing it together,” asserted Simpson. “It was a great group of people; we performed well on the field.”

Simpson was also pleased with how he performed individually in his football finale.

“I was happy with my performance,” added Simpson. “It was playing with the top of the top and the best of the best.”

Former Princeton Day School standout Mike Shimkin, who played defensive back for the West, was a little less happy with the way things turned out.

“We started off slow”, acknowledged Shimkin, who was joined on the West team by PDS teammates Clint O’Brien and Andrew Ojeda.

“In our first possession on the first play of the game we had a 12-yard loss, then the safety, then they had that long TD run.”

The 5’8, 175-pound Shimkin was proud of the way the West battled back from the early deficit.

“We fought back,” said Shimkin. “Everyone loves playing and they wanted to play hard in the last high school game. We wanted to go out with a win and we just came up a little short.”

While the result was disappointing, Shimkin said the West team formed some good bonds.

“We came together; the guys were joking around in the pre-game meal,” added Shimkin. “Chemistry wasn’t a problem.”

Shimkin, a star running back at PDS who set the career rushing mark at the school with more than 3,000 yards, helped the West team chemistry when he agreed to play defensive back in the all-star contest.

“It was different; I thought I would be playing running back but we had some other guy in the backfield who hadn’t played defensive back,” said Shimkin, who is headed to Dickinson College, where he plans to play both football and baseball.

“The coach [Win Headley] knew I had experience in the secondary so he put me back there. I’m playing running back next year at Dickinson but I’ll do whatever the coach needs me to do.”

In Shimkin’s view, the Sunshine game experience should be a good springboard as he starts his Dickinson career next month.

“It’s an all-star game; these guys are all good,” said Shimkin. “Not everyone is playing in college but everyone could play. Everyone is good. It’s a little taste of next year because everyone is going to be on that same level.”

For Simpson, one of the guys not playing at college, the Sunshine Classic left him with a sweet taste.

“Fun, victory, and all that good stuff,” said Simpson, when asked what he will remember about his all-star game experience.

Both Simpson and Shimkin seem headed to good stuff as they pursue their separate paths after Wednesday night.

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