Friday Night Hero: Salisbury’s David Simons
By Ronnie Gallagher
There were long runs and power runs, touchdown passes and fumble recoveries.
It all added up to a resounding 35-6 victory for Salisbury against East Burke in the first round of the 2AA playoffs.
So who did coach Joe Pinyan talk about as a major key to the victory?
A player who was barely visible.
The kicker: David Simons.
Simons kicked three PATs, but his value went beyond those one-pointers. His pooch kicks confused the Cavaliers.
Pinyan realized East Burke had good return people. He also realized the Hornets had not been covering the best. So why not “lob” the ball over the first line of blockers and hope for the best?
“Pooch kicks shorten the field, and our kids get there quicker,” Pinyan said.
But could Simons, a very good soccer player, get this pooch thing down?
“He worked his tail off,” Pinyan said.
“It’s definitely not as easy as it looks,” Simons said. “The strategy is to get the ball up there so our recovery guys get down there. If they can’t get underneath it, they can at least stop the guy for a minimal gain.”
Pinyan said it also put pressure on East Burke players to catch the kick. The results were a couple of turnovers that helped Salisbury dominate the entire game in a very impressive performance.
What’s more impressive to Pinyan is how Simons took on the challenge.
“Most kickers want to show how far they can kick it,” Pinyan said. “They want the long field goal. You see them warming up, and they never try angle shots from 20 yards. They back up and try 50-yarders so everybody will say what a strong leg they’ve got.”
Simons is more into efficiency. For the record, he is 2-for-3 on field-goal attempts, all from the hash marks on those angle kicks.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that a Salisbury kicker is important to football success. With help from the soccer team, Pinyan just keeps churning them out.
There was Zach Collins, who became a preferred walk-on at Wake Forest. Phillip Hilliard is currently punting at Wingate. And Frankie Cardelle drilled a field goal this past weekend for North Carolina Central.
“We’re Kicker University,” Pinyan chuckled. “We’ve had a run of ’em.”
Simons said he knew Collins and Cardelle. Once he came from Salisbury Academy, he wanted to join the fun.
“It wasn’t bad,” he said of his introduction to football.
Simons is a three-sport athlete ó all in the fall. There’s football, soccer and cross country.
“Coaches are nice about it,” Simon said of their sharing.
“We have a great working relationship with the soccer program,” Pinyan said. “Soccer is David’s main sport, but he makes an effort to come to practice every day.”
Simons sees big differences in the two sports.
“In football, I’m waiting for my opportunity, depending on how we play,” he said. “I don’t control playing time. In soccer, I can control what’s going on.”
Simons finally had a chance to control a football game Friday night ó on plays that would never make the highlight film.
“I think David has realized over the last couple of weeks how important the little things are,” Pinyan said. “He gave us everything we wanted.”