clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

No. 9 Simeon is strong up front

Some new faces will need to produce in key positions but coach Dante Culbreath is confident the Wolverines can win the battles in the trenches. 

OL Cameron James at Simeon’s football practice.
OL Cameron James at Simeon’s football practice.
Kevin Tanaka/For the Sun Times

Simeon’s skill position players were the total package last season. Quarterback Alante Brown, receiver Rashaan Palmer and running back Deangelo Hudson had high-level football and leadership skills.

They are gone now, but the backbone of last season’s 11-1 squad returns. Some new faces will need to produce in key positions but coach Dante Culbreath is confident the No. 9 Wolverines can win the battles in the trenches.

Corderro Williams, Ronald Haggins and Kenyan Butler are all three-year starters on the defensive line. George Robinson, Jason Shavers and Jalen Jones are three-year starters on the offensive line. Add 6-8, 280-pound junior lineman Cameron James to the list and it is easy to see why Culbreath believes he has a solid base to build around.

“We have a lot of returners so we are going to try and make another push this year,” Culbreath said. “We need the quarterback to live in the position, a couple defensive players to come to life and we will be fine.”

Culbreath says the team has moved on from last season’s controversial loss to Nazareth in the quarterfinals of the Class 7A state playoffs. Simeon’s alumni association sued the Illinois High School Association over the outcome of the game, alleging that the parent of a Nazareth player who was also an IHSA official, influenced the game officials. The lawsuit didn’t end up going anywhere and the Roadrunners went on to win the state title.

“It is in the past,” Culbreath said. “We buried it. We took some of it into the locker room and stuffed it into a locker to bury it. If you continue to dwell on things like that you can’t move forward.”

Haggins, one of the Wolverines best defensive players, may be peeking into that locker occasionally and using the heartbreaking loss as motivation.

“We have a lot of unfinished business,” Haggins said. “Everyone is going to see. We have a lot coming. I’m not going to say too much though.”

Senior Jacquez Woodland will take over at quarterback. He was a receiver and backup quarterback last year.

“I only took about ten snaps at quarterback but it was enough,” Woodland said. “I need to replace [Brown] as a quarterback and leader but also do my thing and be the best player I can be.”

Culbreath says Woodland is a “strong runner with a whip for an arm.”

Chau Smith, the top uncommitted senior in the Public League, will play all over the field. He has offers from Pitt, Temple and Air Force. Culbreath says he will see time at running back and defensive back.

Senior Brandon Taylor could be another prime beneficiary of Simeon’s beefy, experienced offensive line.

“He’s just tough,” Culbreath said. “He’ll be in different spots, sometimes at running back and some time at receiver. He was hurt last year and didn’t play at all.”

Simeon opens the season with two road trips, first to Michigan and then to Baltimore to face highly-regarded St. Frances, ranked No. 6 in the country by USA Today. St. Frances is so good that last year it was booted out of its local conference and now plays a national schedule.

“We do it almost every year, we’ve taken some long trips,” Culbreath said. “When we get on that bus it is all about business. It isn’t a vacation. They have their minds set, they’ve been pretty focused this off season and worked hard.”

Simeon Schedule

Aug. 31 at Southfield Christian, Mich.
Sep. 7 at Baltimore St. Frances
Sep. 13 vs. Lincoln Park at Lane
Sep. 20 at Solorio
Sep. 28 vs. Perspectives at Gately
Oct. 5 vs. Phillips at Gately
Oct. 11 vs. Hubbard at Gately
Oct. 18 vs. Taft at Gately
Oct. 24 vs. Curie at Gately