AMERICAN PRESS MALE OUTSTANDING ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Simon leads LC College Prep to new heights

Warren Arceneaux

As a freshman backup quarterback, Lake Charles College Prep’s Dillon Simon set out to reach his big goals for himself and the Blazers with the most important step — earning the respect of teammates and coaches.

“ I knew I had to work harder to be the top dog like I was in middle school,” he said. “It was a matter of putting the work in, getting the respect of my teammates and coaches. I wanted them to know that I could be a leader, I can take the program to the next level.”

Simon delivered, helping the Blazers with three district titles in football, including the school’s first trip to the football state semifinals and the first state championship in any sport in school history, the Class 3A track and field title this year.

Simon threw for 1,799 yards, ran for 329 yards and accounted for 31 total TDs in football to lead the Blazers to a 9-1 season. He also ran four events, placing in all, for the track team at the state meet.

For that, he is the American Press male Outstanding Athlete of the Year.

Simon was thrown into the fire as a freshman, starting the final few games of the season for the Blazers.

“I had jitters, but my parents always told me to make the most of it when my number was called,” he said. “I threw my first two touchdowns in the St. Louis game. Ever since then I knew I had it. That year everybody was bigger than me, faster than me but I always had that mindset that I can do what you can do. I know I can work to get where you’re at or be better than you.

“Going into next year I knew who my running back was, knew the receivers. (Offensive coordinator) Coach (Shawn) Piper was teaching me the plays, (head coach Erick) Franklin was teaching me about defenses. We were getting together to work out every day. We were going full speed every day in summer and it showed up on Friday nights.”

As a sophomore, Simon threw for 2,006 yards and 21 touchdowns. In 2019, Simon threw for 2,221 yards and 25 touchdowns and ran for 743 yards and 12 touchdowns as the Blazers went 8-4.

“We reached the regionals and lost to McDonogh #35,” he said of his junior year.

“My goal for my senior year was to do better than I was that year. I worked hard on learning defenses. Before every game I prepared myself on the board, going over every scenario, learning who would be open if the defense did this, where to go if they did that. It wasn’t a matter of just knowing the plays any more. We were going for the state championship, that was the only thing that was on our mind.”

Simon and the Blazers produced a brilliant season. The Blazers were undefeated in the regular season and beat South Beauregard and Jena in playoff games before losing a 43-42 heartbreaker at Union Parish in the semifinal round.

“That is the only game I ever cried over,” he said. “My senior year was special, my last year of high school. It hurt falling short by a point.”

Simon went out in style by helping the Blazers bring home the school’s first state championship trophy.

“We always said we had to go out with a bang,” he said. “We didn’t get what we wanted in football, but we put the work in for track and it worked out. It was in our hands going into the 4×400 relay (the final event of the meet) and we came through. We made a way.”

Simon says that final competition as a Blazers counts among his best memories from high school.

“My sophomore year we beat Washington-Marion for our first district championship, that was a good one,” he said.

“The other one was getting together with the team and coaches on Saturdays and Sundays. I’ll remember how the coaches treated me and were like second fathers to me. I have a great dad (Falando) and I know the coaches have me just like he does. A lot of them played in college so I tried to take as much as I could from them. I knew they would help me be prepared once I got there.”

Simon is set on accomplishing big things at McNeese State. He signed to play football with the Cowboys as a senior.

“We’re going for a national championship,” he said. “I want to make sure everybody is on the same page, everyone loves each other, everyone is doing what they need to do on the field and in the classroom. Everything is about the team. Everything you do, even on the outside, reflects on the program. We want to lift the program.”

Simon said he wants to be remembered at Prep for the work he put in on the field and in the classroom.

“I want to be remembered as a good teammate, someone that loved everyone,” he said.

“A good student, always turned in my work on time. I made straight As from my sophomore year. I want to let the kids coming behind me at Prep and in Lake Charles know that it doesn’t matter how small you are. It matters how much you love the game, how much you grind, the effort you put into it. The work ethic says everything, not how big or small you are. A ball player is a ball player.”

””

Dillon Simon, Lake Charles College Prep

Kirk Meche / Special to the American Press

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