It was a different role coming into the season for the Pioneers as they went from being the hunter to the hunted. In 2008's improbable run to the state championship game, Simon Kenton was able to sneak up on teams both locally and down-state.
Everybody knew who they were this time around though, even still the Pioneers lost only one game during the regular season and would make it to the semi-finals of the state tournament where they fell to eventual champion Louisville St. Xavier.
Miles Simpson rewrote the school record books and will go down as one of if not the best football player in the history of the program.
Let's take a game-by-game look at Simon Kenton's 2009 campaign:
Game #1 - SIMON KENTON 29, NEWCATH 8 The Pioneers entered the first game with the team having already realized one of its worst fears as Simpson had suffered a sprained-ankle in the preseason. The standout running back did take the field and carried the ball seven times early in the game, but the Pioneers really wouldn't need him. Junior quarterback Chad Lawrence showed that he was ready to lead this team and he did as he rushed for 87 yards on 16 carries and completed 8-of-15 passes for 141 yards and three touchdowns. Junior Sage Powell filled in admirably for Simpson at the running back position, carrying the ball eight times for 66 yards and a score. Zach Carroll was Lawrence's main target hauling in four passes for 59-yards and two touchdowns. Austin Baldwin led a defense that only gave up one touchdown with 11 tackles.
Game #2 - SIMON KENTON 49, DIXIE 28 By all accounts of those in attendance Simpson still wasn't one-hundred percent in this one, but you could never tell by checking out his stat line. He racked up 191-yards on 24 carries and scored four rushing touchdowns. He also caught a 25-yard touchdown from Lawrence. Lawrence had another big day as he carried 18 times for 109-yards and completed 10-of-15 passes for 203-yards and two scores. Austin Baldwin, their usual linebacker, lined up in the backfield and got two carries. One of which, he took in for a touchdown from the goalline. Jacob Krummen stepped up in the passing game by catching four passes for 92 yards and a touchdown. On the defensive side of the football, it was three key fumbles by Dixie that made a huge difference in the game. Zach Kaiser, Parker Deters and Jordan Hansel all had a fumble recovery.
Game #3 - SIMON KENTON 56, SHRODER 21 Lawrence had a huge day in this one rushing for 49-yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries and also going 11-of-15 in the passing game for 208 yards and two touchdowns. Simpson wasn't too bad himself despite seeing limited carries. In just 12 attempts, he racked up 101 yards and three touchdowns. Powell got in on the scoring action as well with a short touchdown run and Carroll only had one catch but he made it count with a 54-yard touchdown. Nik Brown found his way into the endzone as well on a six-yard touchdown reception and Matt Reilly hooked up with Lawrence twice for a total of 54 yards. Defensively Powell, Deters and Brandon Roberts all had fumble recoveries.
Game #4 - HENRY CLAY 42, SIMON KENTON 31 The Pioneers struggled to stop the Henry Clay offense and a few turnovers cost them their chance at outscoring the Blue Devils. Lawrence had both a touchdown rushing and a touchdown passing, but he also threw two interceptions. Simpson carried 14 times for 69 yards and a score. Perhaps Carroll had the best game as he caught four passes for 90 yards and a touchdown. Baldwin led the way on defense with six tackles.
Game #5 - SIMON KENTON 56, CONNER 14 In a much anticipated FOX19 Friday Prep Rally game between these two rivals, the Pioneers quickly found themselves behind 14-0 to Conner's high-powered offense led by quarterback Nick West. However, if there was any question as to if Simpson's ankle was completely healthy yet they were answered in the next three and a half quarters. He ran 26 times for 203 yards and five touchdowns. Powell also added a rushing touchdown. Lawrence was 11-of-14 for 165 yards and a score passing and he also rushed for a touchdown. Carroll was the leading receiver with three receptions for 64-yards, but Krummen got another touchdown as he finished the game with two catches for 38 yards. Lawrence and Trey Pinkelton had interceptions on defense and Baldwin led with six tackles.
Game #6 - SIMON KENTON 62, COOPER 0 Simpson was a matchup nightmare for the Cougars as well. He rushed for 226 yards and five touchdowns on just 15 carries. DJ Rabe got two carries and made the most out of them as he racked up 19 yards and a touchdown. Lawrence finished 6-of-12 passing for 115-yards and a touchdown. Ryan Winkler had two catches for 16 yards and a score. On the defensive side of the ball, Carroll and Sean Travis had interception returns for 47 yards and 46 yards respectively. Zach Hager and Tyler Spegal also both had fumble recoveries.
Game #7 - SIMON KENTON 49, RYLE 29 Simpson and Lawrence were both brilliant running the football in this one between the two top teams in Northern Kentucky 6A. Simpson finished with 23 carries for 275 yards and three touchdowns, while Lawrence had 187 yards on 19 carries and found the end zone twice. Lawrence was also efficient in the passing game going 4-of-9 for 91 yards and two touchdowns. One of those touchdowns was a 42-yard catch and run by Simpson and the other was 36-yard strike to Matt Reilly. Baldwin and Zach Kaiser finished the game with six tackles each.
Game #8 - SIMON KENTON 63, BOONE 21 Simpson had another five touchdown night while racking up 294 yards on just 14 carries. Lawrence also had two rushing touchdowns with 103 yards on seven carries. Danny Wetter got into the mix with nine carries for 44 yards and a touchdown. Also Winkler had one catch for 44 yards.
Game #9 - SIMON KENTON 49, CAMPBELL COUNTY 14 It was the "Miles Simpson Show" again as the star dashed his way to 263 yards and four scores on just 15 carries. Brown was also good rushing for 49 yards on seven carries with a touchdown. Baldwin also got back into the offensive mix with one carry resulting in a five-yard score. Lawrence was 6-of-11 passing for 74 yards and a touchdown with three of those going to Carroll for 49 yards, including the touchdown. Simpson, Hager, Pinkelton and Jake Schneider all had interceptions on the defensive side.
Game #10 - SIMON KENTON 50, SCOTT 0 Lawrence led the way rushing 13 times for 130 yards and a score. Simpson carried 14 times for 122 yards and a touchdown. In the passing game Lawrence was 8-of-15 for 150 yards and two touchdowns. Jon Hiles had two catches for 22 yards and a score. Zihier Bailey also contributed with his only catch being a 56-yard touchdown. Powell got an interception on defense, while Baldwin and Deters both picked up fumble recoveries.
Game #11 - SIMON KENTON 49, BUTLER 7 The Pioneers rolled right over their first-round playoff opponent and who else but Simpson led the way with 25 carries for 217 yards and four touchdowns. Lawrence carried 12 times for 96 yards and completed 7-of-9 for 101 yards and two scores. Reilly had one of those scores with a 47-yard touchdown reception and Kyle Eising hauled in two passes for a total of 47 yards and a score.
Game #12 - SIMON KENTON 39, MANUAL 29 Against a tough and athletic Manual team establishing the run game was important in the second round and the Pioneers were able to do that as Simpson carried 25 times for the second straight week. This time he had 132 yards and three touchdowns. Lawrence had his number called 13 times for 76 yards and a touchdown and he completed 7-of-9 passes for 82 yards. Krummen led all receivers with three catches for 48 yards. On defense, Kaiser had the big play as he picked one off and returned it 94 yards for a touchdown. Lawrence also got an interception and Baldwin had seven tackles.
Game #13 - LOUISVILLE ST. XAVIER 48, SIMON KENTON 34 The cards were stacked against the Pioneers going up against the perennial powerhouse, but even when they got down 34-7 they never gave up. Lawrence had to throw the ball 33 times during the final game, 20 of which he completed for 223 yards and four touchdowns. However, he was also picked off three times by St. Xavier. Krummen had seven catches for 79 yards and three touchdowns. Winkler also had seven catches for 95 yards and a touchdown. Brown also had a touchdown rushing the football. Simpson finished with 20 carries for 103 yards after re-injuring his ankle midway through the game. Baldwin led the defense with six tackles and Hansel had a fumble recovery. With 1:40 left in the game the Pioneers recovered an onside kick giving them a chance to tie the game up, but an untimely turnover led to St. Xavier getting the ball back and adding a final touchdown before ending the game.
MILESTONES AND MORE: --Miles Simpson rushed for 2,229 yards on the season and had 38 touchdowns. He averaged 9.6-yards per carry.
--Chad Lawrence rushed for 1,165 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also threw for 1,796 yards and 21 touchdowns while only being intercepted eight times.
--Zach Carroll and Jake Krummen combined for a solid receiving tandem for Lawrence. Carroll had 503-yards on the year with five touchdowns, while Krummen racked up 419-yards and also had five touchdowns.
--Austin Baldwin led the team in both sacks (7) and tackles (63).
--Offensive lineman Jordan Hansel has already committed to Ball State and Simpson will be committing to a major Division-I program at some point.
**The Simon Kenton Pioneers have been nominated as one of six finalists for QueenCityHigh.com's Northern Kentucky Team of the Year. The award will be handed at our Northern Kentucky Year In Review show at Longneck's Sports Grill in Wilder on Wednesday, January 13. The event is open to the public. See our free message board - THE 275 LOOP for further details.**