Prep Bowl: Simley wins first football state title by knocking off defending champ Hutchinson
Simley High School in Inver Grove Heights opened in 1960 and the first graduating class had 19 students. It has since grown to an enrollment of nearly 1,100. Ask anyone about Simley’s history in athletics, and no doubt, wrestling will be the first activity mentioned. Since 1987, the Spartans have indeed been a Minnesota high school wrestling power with 13 team state championships and scores of individual titlists.
Now another state championship can be added to the conversation.
Simley put a headlock on its first-ever football state championship with a stirring 34-24 victory over top-ranked and defending state champion Hutchinson in the Class AAAA title game on Friday, Dec. 2 at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Spartans (12-1) did so with a stunning finish that produced 14 points in the final minutes.
“This is absolutely incredible for our school and community,” said Will Short, Simley’s longtime activities director and wrestling coach. “There have been so many people over the past many years that have contributed to this. It was kids, coaches and community members all having the same vision and same goal. The result is an outstanding job of building themselves into a state champion. We are so fortunate to have multi-sport athletes in our school. From basketball to wrestling to hockey to track and field, it is an amazing thing that all of them come together to play football.”
The Spartans put an exclamation point on their historic season with 14 points in the span of 2 minutes, 38 seconds in the closing moments.
Senior running back David Gogins started the spree by catching a 17-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Caden Renslow to send the Spartans to a 27-24 lead with 3:10 remaining in regulation. Hutchinson (11-2) was poised and confident as it lined up for what they believed would be a final drive in securing the school’s eighth football state crown.
But those hopes were quickly dashed when Simley senior defensive back Dezmond Smith intercepted a pass by Hutchinson junior quarterback Logan Butler and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown with 1:32 remaining that sent the Spartans’ sideline and their fans in the stands into a celebratory frenzy.
Renslow rushed for 65 yards and two touchdowns and completed 7 of 8 passes for 90 yards for two other touchdowns. Simley held the ball for 11 fewer minutes than the Tigers.
Senior fullback Andrew Ladwig powered Hutchinson with 224 yards on 29 carries. Senior backfield mate Levi Teetzel added 84 yards.
Simley senior Gavin Nelson, one of 14 wrestlers on the team, had 72 rushing yards. On defense, he had 10 tackles, including one for a loss. He has committed to wrestle for the University of Minnesota.
Hutchinson built a 16-13 lead at the half behind two touchdown runs from Ladwig that were followed by two two-point conversion runs by Teetzel. Ladwig’s second touchdown, a 13-yarder, and Teetzel’s conversion have the Tigers a 16-6 lead with 5 minutes, 12 seconds left in the second quarter.
But Simley responded just more than two minutes later to close the gap at the break. Renslow found an opening and dashed 44 yards to a touchdown.
Ladwig rushed for 158 yards on 15 carries to power Hutchinson. Teetzel added 60 yards as the Tigers amassed 255 rushing yards.
Renslow, who had a 1-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter to open the scoring, rushed for 58 yards and threw for 59 while completing all four of his passes.