Zach Simons breaks out big in Wisconsin


Zach Simons breaks out big in Wisconsin

Heading into the 2014 season, Zach Simons knew what he wanted to accomplish in his first year as the starting varsity quarterback at Xavier High School in Appleton, Wisconsin.
“My goals are to lead the conference in passing and rushing yards and also in efficieny percentage,” Simons said.
Simons met his goals – and kept on climbing.
The junior QB led the Hawks to a 9-2 record and a trip to the WIAA Division 3 playoffs, and Simons put up some staggering statistics along the way.
“It’s definitely been a great season,” he said. “Our team chemistry got better every week and we got better every week. It was really fun playing with my teammates this season.”
As a sophomore at Xavier last year, Simons was the backup quarterback to senior Matt Ferris, who set single-season records in passing yards (3,949) and touchdowns (50).
Focusing his attention on defense, where he was an all-conference linebacker, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Simons got the call at QB in a state semifinal playoff appearance when Ferris went down with an injury.
Simons provided a glimpse of things to come by completing 9 of 14 passes in a high-pressure game.

State leader

This season, Simons ranks second in the state of Wisconsin with 3,067 yards passing and third with 30 touchdowns.
“I’m kind of surprised, but not really,” said Simons, who had three games with 5 touchdown passes. “I look at the numbers sometimes and think they’re really great. But it’s just a matter of staying humble and to just keep playing. I have some really great wide receivers this season. Matt Kinderman is a senior state wide receiver of the year nominee and Levi O’Brien was an all-state wide receiver last year. They’ve really helped me get to where I am. They are so good, so I wanted to be just as good as them if not better. So I always try to come out and play really well.”
Simons certainly did that, and even though he has just one full season of varsity QB experience under his belt, he’s already visited a couple Division III college schools and has heard from two Division I programs.
Dealing with adversity is a big part of football, and Simons didn’t panic when four of Xavier’s starting offensive linemen suffered early injuries. Two of them managed to make it back for the bulk of the season.
“Injuries are never a good thing, but at least they happened early,” Simons said. “The guys that filled in were able to get affiliated faster and they becamse really comfortable.”
Winning the Duel before the season helped Simons get comfortable for the season. So has his training with NFA, the most recent being a July camp in Philadelphia.
“NFA has definitely helped slow down the the game for me,” Simons said. “The R4 system allows me to make all my reads and prgressions. In everything I do as a quarterback, NFA had really helped.”

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Scot Gregor is an award-winning sportswriter for the Chicago Daily Herald. In addition to writing about Big 10 and Notre Dame football, Gregor has also covered the White Sox, Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls and college basketball. He grew up in Pittsburgh and watched the Steelers rise to prominence in the 1970s. Gregor has a B.S. degree in Journalism from Ohio University