Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

September 13, 2012

Milestone victory looms for Simon

Beavers to entertain East

BLUEFIELD — Fred Simon admits that it is in the back of his mind, but he goes forward without giving it too much thought. The “it” is a milestone in Simon’s career which is currently in its 27th season as head coach of the Bluefield Beavers, his 200th coaching win.

Simon will lead the 1-1 Beavers onto the Mitchell Stadium turf against the 1-2 Greenbrier East Spartans. Bluefield last played 14 days ago against rival Princeton and came out with a hard-fought 52-44 win.

Looking back at the Princeton game, Simon said the proverbial “improvement gap” between weeks one and two was there, at least in part of the Beavers’ performance.

“I know we improved offensively. Defensively it’s hard to tell yet because we’ve never been 100 percent as far as who we think should be starting and who shouldn’t,” Simon commented. “Hopefully we’ll get that taken care of shortly.

The veteran coach said that on the offensive side of the ball Bluefield exhibited great teamwork and that is what is needed and what the team needs to continue doing.

“The ball was spread around, the kids blocked for each other, all the backs ran hard,” Simon observed. “Receivers blocked well and we got all the people involved in running the ball. I liked that.”

During the bye week Bluefield went back to the basics, looking to improve fundamentals, especially its tackling.

“We felt like we’ve done a lot of arm tackling and we can’t do that. We worked hard at trying to keep putting those pieces to the puzzle, trying to get our team corrected the best we can,” Simon commented.

One of those puzzle pieces is Corey Coppolo. Coppolo transferred from Graham to Bluefield, but has been unable to play in any games, halted by the WVSSAC.  According to Simon all the issues regarding Coppolo’s eligibility have been resolved and the sophomore linebacker should be on the field against the Spartans.

Coppolo would be useful against East as the Spartans are explosive on offense. East comes into the game averaging 37 points a game and scored 56 last week against Shady Spring, their first victory.  

“They can put some points on the board,” Simon said. “They’ve got a good quarterback that runs well, throws well, they’ve got some receivers and some running backs, a big running back, a big 250-pounder, so our work is cut out for us defensively.”

Greenbrier East lost its opener to undefeated Capital 42-21, then lost to No. 2 Woodrow Wilson 42-34 before winning last week against Shady.

“They’ve played some pretty good offensive teams, so it’s hard to tell about their defense,” Simon said. “I notice some people have put some points on them, but with their schedule, they’ve lost to Woodrow and Capital, that’s it. There’s a lot of teams in the state right now that could have their record. If they had some other teams schedules they could be undefeated.”

Simon did note that the Spartans like to play man-to-man defense, which could provide some opportunities for the Beavers.

“From watching film they match up across the board man-to-man, so if we could pop that seam and just get past their second level, we ought to get some good yardage, but getting past the second level could be the problem, you just never know,” Simon said.

“When you’re blitzing and everybody is matched up man, you’ve got to block everybody that’s coming. If we can put a shoulder pad on them and stay with them long enough and our backs can see the hole, I think we can hurt them.”

A win against Greenbrier East and Simon will reach another milestone in his coaching career.

“I know it’s 200 (wins), people have informed me,” Simon said. I knew at the end of last year because somebody told me that and I think it would be great (to get it).

“It comes down to I’ve had some great players and assistant coaches with me. Time flies. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been around long enough for this to happen. I know it will happen eventually, but the sooner the better for us. I just want to keep winning.

“Coach (Merrill) Gainer, Coach (John) Chmara, again helped that a lot because of the tradition they instilled here and it’s made it easier for me. It tells you that you’ve worked hard and I think it would be great.”

Kickoff is set for 7:30 at Mitchell Stadium.

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