The Philip Simmons High School football team had another successful season in just its second year as a Class AAA team.
The Iron Horses posted a 10-2 record, had players rewrite the school’s record book and will send student-athletes to college, including their first blue-chip recruit: Troy Stevenson.
The curtain fell on the season when home-standing Brookland-Cayce handed the Iron Horses a 34-14 defeat in the second round of the Class AAA playoffs on Nov. 10.
Iron Horse coach Eric Bendig, who has led the Iron Horses to 28 victories in the last 36 games, put the performance in perspective.
“It didn’t end the way we wanted,” Bendig said. “I’m proud to be their head coach. I love getting to work with this group every day, and I hate that it’s over.”
The Bearcats won their eighth consecutive game and led at every stop against the Iron Horses to improve to 10-2. Brookland-Cayce took a 7-0 lead after the first quarter and was on top 14-7 at halftime. It was 21-7 after three quarters.
The Iron Horses will lose 16 seniors to graduation, including some players who were among the best in the state: running backs K.J. Asbury and Sharod Williams, linebackers Bryce Smalls and Josh Gant.
Another key cog in the Iron Horse machine, Troy Stevenson is one of the top five recruits in the Palmetto State and is scheduled to matriculate to Georgia Tech. He will play in the Shrine Bowl. Kicker Sam Crocker will play in the Touchstone Energy Bowl.
“This senior class put Philip Simmons Iron Horse football on the map and set it up for years to come,” Bendig said. “Thanks to them for their efforts.”
The Iron Horses didn’t have a running back top 1,000 yards rushing in their first five seasons. They had two in 2023: Asbury and Smalls.
Asbury finished the season with a school record 2,017 yards while Smalls rushed for 1,300.
Production like that helped the Iron Horses set a school record of 509 points in 12 games, erasing the old record set in 2021 when the Iron Horses scored 468 in 13 games, winning 11 of those contests.