St. Mary’s Colgan senior quarterback Cade Simmons is having a breakout year for the Panthers, the #2 ranked football team in Class 1A.
Simmons, a 6-foot-0, 200-pound, signal caller, got his feet wet one year ago at the position after a first week injury to then senior quarterback Bryce Hutchins. The injury propelled Simmons into a breakout year for the Panthers as he played multiple positions, including play at the QB position throughout the year, to help lead the Panthers to the 2-1A state title game, taking runner-up to Smith Center. Simmons racked up over 1,000 yards of total offense with 17 total touchdowns in 2017.
Fast forward to a year later, the reps at quarterback have seemed to be extremely beneficial for the Panthers and Simmons. He is now one of the top playmakers in Southeast Kansas and in the entire state for 1A this season. He has been outstanding in the first three weeks of the season with 448 yards rushing and six touchdowns on the ground in three games. He is averaging over 12 yards per carry. He’s also thrown for 208 yards with three touchdowns to zero interceptions, despite not being able to have a passing game in week two due to weather conditions in the win over rival Frontenac. Simmons has also put up these numbers against 3A level competition, while the team is 3-0.
It’s safe to say that football is in his blood. His father, Eric, an Elkhart, Kansas, native, played football at Pittsburg State. His uncle, Darrin, played football at KU as an All-Big 8 punter and is the current special teams coach for the Cincinnati Bengals. He has been with the Bengals on staff for 16 seasons.
“I have been around football and going to football games since I was born. I also have a great-uncle that was in strength and conditioning in the NFL for 23 years. His son is also a strength and conditioning coach at Nevada. I have another cousin who is the punter at Southern Illinois. Football has been a constant in my house.” Simmons said.
St. Mary’s Colgan, located in Pittsburg, Kansas, is a perfect place if you’ve been around football your whole life as it’s one of the best programs in state history. Head Coaches Frank Crespino and Chuck Smith combined for seven state football titles. Crespino produced two state titles and is in the KSHSAA Hall of Fame. Smith retired at the end of the 2016 season after producing five state football championships (1984, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003) including four consecutive that included then a state record win streak 66 games.
Simmons got the opportunity to play for Smith for two years and now has gotten to play for two seasons under second year head coach Shawn Seematter. Seematter has seemed to be a great fit for the Panther program after leading them to a title game appearance in his first year as the head coach.
“Coach Seematter has been great. I love playing for him. He brings a certain intensity to practice and games and we all feed off it.” Simmons said.
Simmons has gotten to play for three Kansas coaching legends while at SMC in Smith, Mike Watt, who has 16 state baseball titles, and basketball coach Wayne Cichon, who has five. Cichon and Watt each have over 600 wins as head coaches at SMC.
Simmons is a multiple sport athlete at SMC, earning second team all-state honors from Sports in Kansas last year in baseball. He is a utility guy that can play multiple spots but mainly likes middle infield. Simmons is also on the basketball team. He also holds a 3.0 GPA and his favorite subject is history.
Simmons is a tough competitor as well. He can fit into multiple spots in any sport and is willing to do anything to make his team win. After seeing a lot of tape on him over the first few weeks he is very hard to bring down and has great size at the position in 1A weighing 200-pounds. He is a quarterback with a linebacker body and mentality. Simmons has been tough for a while, it didn’t just happen as a high school senior. In the fourth grade, he was hit in the head with a golf ball and was airlifted after a brain bleed.
“I ended up playing in the 10-year old state baseball championship game after the hit and five days later I was air lifted to Children’s Mercy. I ended up having a brain bleed due to the hit. Thankfully, after sitting out six months of all contact I made a full recovery.” Simmons said.
The hard-nosed senior quarterback looks to lead the Panthers to a 4-0 start as they take on a familiar playoff rival opponent in Centralia this Friday. Last year SMC won a 25-18 thriller to advance to the 2-1A state title game. While Simmons has been outstanding on the offense, the defense and their team speed has been the story of the season as well as they have not allowed a touchdown scored on its varsity defense. And its not just Simmons either this has been a total team effort in the 3-0 start with the likes of all-state lineman Garrett Bolinger, linebacker Luke Orender, running back Kash Marietta, defensive end Matthew Lomshek, and reciever/defensive back Cal Marquardt.
We caught up with the outstanding senior student athlete below in the latest Q&A edition of Faces in Kansas.
This feature is presented by Kannarr Eye Care, proud to support Southeast Kansas Athletics and the St. Mary's Colgan Panthers. Kannarr Eye Care - The Clear Choice. Visit us online here and see our ad in the top right corner.
Chet Kuplen, Founder/CEO of Sports in Kansas, on Simmons
"He's had an outstanding year so far. When you think he's down he's not. He can extend plays with his toughness and is a linebacker playing quarterback. If you saw the video of the 81-yard QB sneak against Frontenac then you realize what you're dealing with. He's one of the top quarterbacks in 1A this season as well as Southeast Kansas, we kind of assumed that by putting him on our 25 QB's to Watch list coming into the year. One of the other quarterbacks I profiled on this same feature was Lane Whisennand of Elkhart, also a top 1A quarterback. It turns out that Cade's grandpa and Lane's grandpa have worked harvest together for years way out in Southwest Kansas with the Simmons being from Elkhart. It's definitely a small world out there even if the two are seven hours apart and don't really know eachother. Sports in Kansas social media interaction has definitely made it a small world out there!"
Q&A w/ Simmons
How did you get involved in football?
Football has been a constant in my house. My dad, as well as a few cousins, played football at Pittsburg State University and I have an uncle who played at KU and is a Special Teams coach in the NFL. I also have a great-uncle that was the strength and conditioning coach in the NFL for 23 years, and is currently the strength and conditioning specialist for the Army Special Forces in North Carolina. His son is the current Strength and Conditioning Coach at the University of Nevada, Reno. And I have another cousin who is the punter at Southern Illinois University. I’ve basically been around football and going to football games since I born.
What are your goals this season?
To make it all the way back to a State Championship.
Do you guys have a shot to make a run this year?
Yes, if we keep on competing day in and day out I believe we have a shot to do so.
What makes you such a force as a player?
I believe what helps me is that I don’t give up on plays just because I get wrapped up. I’m a quarterback with a linebacker mentality. I want to play physical and out work my opponent.
What’s the atmosphere like to play football on Friday night for your school and town?
There is nothing better than going out on to the field and seeing all the little kids in their Colgan jerseys coming up and giving us high fives. It’s also great seeing all of the parents and fans out tailgating 2 hours before the game even starts. There is just a different feeling around the school on game days.
For anyone that hasn’t seen one of your games, why come to one?
One reason they should come is to see all of the traditions that Colgan has. During the day we have a game mass, then we have a traditional walk to the field before we begin our warm ups. We sing to the nuns after a hard fought victory, and end our night praying in the church win or lose. They are the very same traditions that my great-uncles and cousins participated in when they were at Colgan.
Who are other key players on your team?
Some of the key players that we have on offense are Matthew Lomshek and Kash Marietta. Whenever we need a yard we always know that we can put it in their hands and let them work. Another reason why this works is because of the guys up front. Garrett Bolinger has been solid year in and year out and will provide a lot of leadership on the line. They put in the work every day and never get the credit but they know we can’t do it without them.
On the defensive side of the ball our whole secondary is pretty solid. Luke Orender had a good year last year, and I think he will this year too. The team speed that we have on that side of the ball is scary and so far have been able to match up pretty well. Our defense has been doing a great job for us this season.
Favorite thing about football?
My favorite thing about football is the brotherhood that comes with it. We all play for one another and it doesn’t just stop after football season, it carries on throughout the year.
Do you play any other sports, tell us about that, what other positions do you play?
I play basketball and baseball. I am a utility guy in baseball and can play anywhere coach needs me to. I mainly play middle infield (short stop), but have also caught, pitched some, and played outfield. I play summer baseball as well as for my school team.
What is it like to play for your coach?
I love playing for Coach Seematter. He brings a certain intensity to practice and our games that the players and I feed right off of.
What did you and the team do in the off-season to become better?
We were in the weight room Monday through Thursday 6-8 pushing ourselves to the max. And then at night we would either be throwing routes or playing another sport.
What interest are you seeing at the next level and what are your plans?
I have had a few colleges show interest in me for football and baseball. Right now I’m planning on going for some college visits and finding the right fit.
Favorite thing to do when you aren’t playing sports?
My favorite thing to do is hang out with my friends. We know we don’t have much more time together as seniors, so we are trying to make it as fun and as memorable as we can.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I want to be succeeding at whatever major and field I decide to go in to. Right now I am looking at Construction Management, but I have also considered Business and Sports Management.
Favorite subject in school, what type of student are you, GPA?
My favorite subject in school is History. My current GPA is a 3.0.
Who is your role model?
My role model is my dad. He pushes me and my three younger brothers to be the best that we can be.
Best place to eat in your town or the surrounding area?
My favorite place to eat in town is Lotus. It’s really cheap and really good. I eat there so often that I took some of my senior pictures there.
One thing the average person wouldn’t know about you?
The summer going in to my 4th grade year, I was hit in the head with a golf ball. I ended up playing in a championship baseball game (that we won) and 5 days later was airlifted to Children’s Mercy. I ended up having a brain bleed due to the hit. Thankfully, after sitting out 6 months of all contact sports I had made a full recovery. It was the longest six months of my life.
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