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QB Simon helps lead Tornadoes closer to state title

 

Scott Walters

 

REFORM, Ala. -- Pickens County High School senior quarterback Devonte Simon is more than willing to play a complementary role in the offense as long as the Tornadoes keep winning. 

 

While fellow senior Jermarcus Brown continues to re-write the school's record book on offense, Simon remains in the shadows as the quiet, confident leader for his undefeated team. 

 

On Friday, Simon rushed for one score and passed for another in a 41-21 victory against Ragland 41-21 in the third round of the Alabama High School Activities Association Class 1A playoffs. 

 

For his efforts, Simon is The Dispatch's Prep Player of the Week. 

 

"It is all about winning," Simon said. "Jermarcus (Brown) is the best running back in the state, and it is an honor to be playing alongside him. We feel like our offense can match anybody's in the state. This has been a fun run." 

 

Pickens County (13-0) will play host to Hubbertville (11-2) at 7 p.m. Friday for the North State championship. A win will send Pickens County to the Super Six for the first time in program history. The Class 1A finalists will play at 3 p.m. Dec. 5 at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala. 

 

"We are right there, but we were also right there last year," Simon said. "The loss last year was devastating. We knew we were going to win the second time around. This year, we haven't taken anything for granted. We have worked harder to make sure this gets done." 

 

Pickens County lost to region rival Marion County 42-41 in the North State championship game last season. The Tornadoes lost 45-27 in the regular season but closed the gap considerably in the rematch. 

 

This season, the roles are reserved. Pickens County beat Hubbertville 50-0 in the regular season. 

 

"It's the playoffs, so it's a brand new game," Simon said. "The last couple of weeks we have struggled in the first half, so, hopefully, we can go out and play a complete game. That would make us have more confidence going into the championship game." 

 

Last season, Pickens County finished 11-4. Simon was one of six returning starters on offense. The goal was to keep the high-flying wide-open offensive attack going, while bringing the defense along for the ride. 

 

"(Simon) really established himself as a leader in the weight room," Pickens County coach Patrick Plott said. "Everybody looks up to him in the huddle. He is a dual-threat and can beat you throwing and running. Even though Jermarcus has put up some incredible numbers, the balance on offense has been much better this season." 

 

Simon also plays defensive back. The biggest storyline of the Pickens County season may have been the improvement on defense. The Tornadoes enter the North State championship game having allowed less than 12 points per game. 

 

"We knew we had to play better on defense to win a championship," Simon said. "From the very first game, you could tell this was going to be a different season. Everybody is working harder on their assignments. We don't let up or lose focus once we get a lead." 

 

Pickens County will look for a fast start again Friday. Brown scored three touchdowns last week. As always, Simon was one of the first to congratulate him in the end zone after each score. 

 

"We are feeling pretty good," Simon said. "But we aren't stopping until the job is done." 

 

Follow Scott Walters on Twitter @dispatchscott. 

 

 

Scott is sports copy editor and reporter

 

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