Prep football: Simpson taking his Middies to face reeling Princeton

Middletown’s Josh Bryant (5) is chased by Lincoln Troxell (40) of Springboro during an Aug. 31 game at CareFlight Field in Springboro. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY ERIC FRANTZ

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Middletown’s Josh Bryant (5) is chased by Lincoln Troxell (40) of Springboro during an Aug. 31 game at CareFlight Field in Springboro. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY ERIC FRANTZ

Don Simpson will be heading back to his old school Friday night.

He’s hopeful that it will be a good experience, but there’s no way of knowing for sure what he’ll find when he takes his Middletown High School football team to Princeton’s Mancuso Field for a Greater Miami Conference contest.

Simpson and his Middies are 1-3 and on a three-game losing streak, but the Vikings are now 0-4 after finding out this week that they had to forfeit three wins because of an ineligible player.

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“I’ve got so many different ties with Princeton,” said Simpson, who was the Vikings’ defensive coordinator in 2017. “I think we’ll all still be in good spirits. The game itself will be competitive on both sides. But I hate to see that happen to them. I want their best. I want them to be locked in.”

Princeton coach Mike Daniels didn’t return phone messages from Cox Media this week, but Simpson said he had a text conversation with Daniels on Wednesday.

“He reached out to me,” Simpson said. “It kind of speaks to the relationship that he and I have. We’ve always been able to confide in each other if something came up coaching-wise.

“His emotions were he feels bad for the kid. I know how hard he worked to get that team to where they are right now, and then one oversight by your administration gets you. He’s in damage control mode now. He’s going to have to pull his kids together and get them refocused.”

Simpson said he should have numerous friends and family in attendance at Friday’s game, which will be homecoming for the Vikings. Last season was his only year at Princeton.

The Vikings have some offensive weapons. Senior quarterback Hosea Hairston has completed 22-of-51 passes for 536 yards and nine touchdowns while running 55 times for 340 yards and a TD, and sophomore Thomas Boyd (42 carries, 343 yards, six TDs) is the No. 1 rusher.

The top receivers are seniors Jermaine Wimpye (10 catches, 226 yards, four TDs) and Trey Key (four catches, 215 yards, four TDs).

“They’re more of an inside zone, power-type team than when I was there,” Simpson said. “They’re bigger than us size-wise, but that’s going to be a common theme with pretty much everybody in nthe GMC. Speed-wise, we’re very comparable.

“Honestly, I believe we match up really well. I think it will be a heated competition.”

Simpson said his team is bouncing back mentally after getting rolled 44-3 by Colerain last week as Deante Smith-Moore threw for 316 yards and five touchdowns. It was an evening that was satisfying to nobody in purple.

“That was the first game out of the four we’ve played that I was truly disappointed in us,” Simpson said. “I don’t know if it was intimidation or just complete distractions, but we weren’t focused. I felt it from the pregame meal. Our attention to detail wasn’t there.

“That just lets me know where we are as a program. We’re not at that level yet to compete in that type of game against that caliber of team. There’s that saying if you’re putting it on film, you’re either permitting or promoting. What we put on film last Friday is a team that I neither permit nor promote on the football field.”

The Middies are averaging just 53.3 yards per game on the ground. Sophomore Josh Bryant leads the way with 204 yards on 65 carries.

“I think we’ve responded the right way this week,” Simpson said. “The positive that I’m taking out of last weekend is that we’re still here. We’re still standing. We’re still ready to fight.”

Friday’s game

What: Middletown (1-3, 0-2 GMC) at Princeton (0-4, 0-2 GMC), 7 p.m.

Where: Pat Mancuso Field at Viking Stadium, 100 Viking Way, Sharonville

Series: Princeton leads 39-11 and has won the last two meetings, including 62-21 in 2017

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