“He's tough,” Mendoza said. “He is only a sophomore, but he runs like a senior.”
Ada coach Matt Weber knew coming into the game that Simpkins would be a load.
“He's excellent,” Weber said of Clinton's 6-foot, 190-pound running back. “We knew coming in that he was excellent. We thought the key to the game was tackling. We did it some, but not enough.”
Lee called Simpkins “a pretty tough young man. He runs hard and does not back down.”
Ultimately, what doomed Ada besides Clinton's 315 yards rushing in the game was five turnovers. The Cougars had three turnovers in the first half that led to 17 Clinton points. The Red Tornadoes built a 26-7 halftime lead.
Senior defensive back Quinton Hand intercepted two passes in the first half, including a pick that he returned 12 yards for a touchdown to give Clinton a 9-7 lead in the first quarter. It would be a lead the Red Tornadoes would never relinquish.
“We dug ourselves a hole,” Weber said. “I thought our kids did a good job of fighting to get back in it, but they did such a good job of eating up the clock the second half and didn't allow us to run our whole offense. They were kind of dictating to us instead of vice-versa.”
Now, the Red Tornadoes get an opportunity for its 16th state championship, the ninth in Lee's 23 seasons at Clinton. He is 8-5 in state championship games and this was his 19th trip to the state semifinals at the school.
“Should be a great game,” Lee said of the rematch with Anadarko. “We are looking forward to it.”