Bess and Williams get pre-season praise at PSHS
Philip Simmons High School football coach Eric Bendig heaps on the praise for Tripp Williams, a 6-2, 210-pound athlete who can play quarterback, H-back, receiver and linebacker.
Bendig says Williams has the potential on the football field and in the classroom to play football at the next level for an elite school such as Stanford.
And Bendig, who was an assistant at Wando, says Williams is the most physically gifted high school player he’s coached who is not named OrTre Smith. Smith, of course, was a wide receiver who played at Wando and is ready to contend for All-American honors as a member of the University of South Carolina team.
So why haven’t you heard of Williams? It’s simple. Williams is a freshman this fall and hasn’t played in a varsity game.
“He’s bright, very bright,” Bendig said of Williams, who won the team’s captain award at last fall’s football banquet. “He was the valedictorian of the eighth-grade class. He’s a gifted student-athlete.”
Philip Simmons isn’t a household name to those who follow prep football in the Palmetto State. But the Iron Horses have many players who should make a name for themselves in the Lowcountry and around the state.
That includes running back Solly Bess, who rushed for nearly 1,000 yards in eight games as a junior varsity player last fall. He wants to rush for more than 2,000 yards this fall, which might be realistic. He rushed for 185 yards in the 2017 season finale. He has worked hard in the weight room, going from 165 pounds last fall to 200 this summer. He has elusive moves and a good time in the 40-yard dash, somewhere in the 4.4-4.5 range.
“He’s had a great summer,” Bendig said of Bess. “He committed to the weight room because he started to realize he has the potential to play at the next level. It’s like the light bulb switch went on. He’s a hard worker and will be one of the best running backs in the state.”
Bess paid his dues last fall as a member of the junior varsity team, which played its games on Thursdays. Now, he’s ready for prime time and the spotlight Friday Night Lights bring. He’s ready for the season opener on Aug. 17 when Philip Simmons hosts St. John’s.
“My adrenaline will definitely be pumping,” said Bess, who had brothers play at Wando and Hanahan. “The lights will be on me and the team, and there will be thousands of fans in the stands. We worked hard for this moment.”
Williams, the freshman, says playing for a team such as Auburn or Clemson is his goal for now. But teenagers have been known to change their minds, so only time will tell. But one thing is certain. Williams is ready to help the Iron Horses make a name on the gridiron.
“It’s really cool, the whole situation of introducing Philip Simmons football to the rest of the state,” he said. “We can make an impression. We can make a statement.”