By Tyler Lowey, Times Reporter
The job of an offensive lineman might be the most underrated in all of sports. They have their hand in the mud every play, they have people trying to run them over each down and they never get to touch the ball.
Yet, it is one of the most important positions in football, and on Nov. 5, one of the best and youngest linemen in the Rangeland Football Conference was recognized for his hard work.
Members from the league gathered at Brooks Composite High School to hand out their yearly awards. Max Sims was the only Strathmore High School Spartan to bring home any hardware, as he was named Rookie of the Year.
Growing up in the Strathmore Community Football Association Badgers program, Sims was mainly used as an offensive lineman. This year, Spartans Head Coach Darrell Hargrove saw something in his game that allowed him to play on the other side of the ball.
“We’re very lucky to have Max. Linemen are the hardest position to fill, especially in a small town. To have someone as skilled as Max on both sides of the ball is huge for our program,” said Hargrove. “He plays like a Grade 12 kid but he’s only in Grade 10. That’s probably the biggest compliment about his game.”
Standing 6-foot-1 and tipping the scales at 270 pounds, Sims is a force. Defences couldn’t move him as they tried to sack the quarterback and he was able to carve out huge gaps in the offensive line, allowing the playmakers behind him to run up the gut.
Playing on the defensive side of the ball for the first time helped open his eyes to what exactly defensive players were trying to accomplish when they were running at him.
“I’m normally always on the offensive line, but playing on the defensive line this year was fun to work against the role I normally do,” said Sims. “To fight against people who are doing the job I typically do helped give me a different mindset and better insight on what to look for whenever I moved back to the offensive line.”
This isn’t the first recognition for Sims either. Last May, he was named to Team South for the Football Alberta Bantam Bowl. He was able to cultivate experience from that provincial event and use it in his first season with the Spartans.
“We had a great team this year and a great group of guys,” said Sims. “I was able to get to know a lot more people around the school who I never would have met if it wasn’t for football.”
Sims was the only award winner this year, but also nominated was Reid Jensen for league MVP. In addition, Maverick Ridley was nominated for Most Outstanding Defensive Player, Garrett Kopp was put up for Lineman of the Year and Dustin Thiessen was among those in the running for the Commissioners Award in recognition for outstanding work academically and athletically. Only the nominated players and their parents made the trip to Brooks.
The football team will hand out more individual awards at the year-end athletic banquet with the rest of the Spartan teams.
Despite not picking up any other awards, three Spartans were also named to the all-star team. Quarerback and running back Jensen, centre Kopp and outside linebacker Ridley were fortunate enough to receive all-star selections.