STILLWATER, Okla. -- For many players their senior year is their chance to not only win a state title but establish themselves as one of their home state's top players. Apparently Clinton, Okla. star sophomore running back Marquiz Simpkins missed the memo during the Red Tornadoes 21-14 4A state championship game win over Anadarko.
The 5-foot-10, 175-pound back put up 119-yards and two touchdowns - including the 27-yard game-winner on his way to putting the state's perennial power back on top winning their first state championship since 2007.
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Simpkins capped the season with a state title and was a huge part of the Red Tornadoes' 12-2 season with his 2,009 yard and 29-touchdown season on just 199-carries.
Watching him during the 4A state title game win over Anadarko it was clear that his numbers were far from a fluke as he showed off an ability to be physical in a brutally tough game but also the athleticism to make the highlight reel runs. On his 27-yard touchdown run that ended up being the game-winner Simpkins broke a couple of tackles before out-running the Anadarko defense while simultaneously tight roping the sideline.
Simpkins is powerfully built in the lower body which explains his ability to break tackles with seeming ease but he'll need to continue to work on his change of direction and top end speed. Either way, he has a chance to become an elite prospect in a few years time.
*Clinton two-way lineman Grant Lee fought injury through much of the game and reaggravated it during the game. However, he showed himself as the player that many thought him to be - tough, physical, and just flat out nasty. Standing on the Anadarko sideline it was clear that Lee wasn't well liked by some of his competitors but that's just the way a player like Lee wants it. He isn't trying to overwhelm anyone with talent, size, or technique, he simply wants to maul every defender into submission.
*Though Simpkins was the story of the day Anadarko isn't without talent at running back of their own, boasting star RJ Sink. Like Lee, Sink was battling an injury through much of the game and thanks to a stingy Clinton defense was rarely able to get outside and show the burst and big-play ability he is known for. While Simpkins relished the physical nature of a rugged state championship game it seemed that Sink's game is more comfortable in an open high-octane style of game.
*Anadarko had several other players that looked like names to remember in the future, notably junior safety Mykel Shaw and sophomores Traymayne Wauahdooah at linebacker and cornerback Josh Parton.