Easton Valley junior runningback Charlie Simpson has definitely put up the stats to show why he’s a part of a state semifinal team.

What he’s gone through to get those stats this season puts him on another level of athletes.

Simpson had just under 50 yards on just five carries in the River Hawks’ 67-22 win over Kee in the 8-man quarterfinals last Friday. That was because the River Hawks were so far ahead, they rested him a little more as he nurtures a hairline fracture un his foot.

“He needed to sit out a bit,” head coach Tony Johnson said after the River Hawks’ second round victory over Dunkerton. Simpson didn’t see the field during that contest. “He’s a day-to-day kid. I’m awful proud of him, he’s had a great season for us.”

Simpson, a transfer, is the leading rusher for the River Hawks’ offense – and the River Hawks’ offense is one of the most prolific in the state. He has 1131 yards on the year.

Simpson sat out the second round of the playoffs to rest it. What did he say after?

“I’m playing the next game.”

That mentality leaves head coach Tony Johnson with just one thing to say:” He’s a tough kid.”

A couple of weeks before the playoffs started Simpson felt a pop in his foot, but didn’t feel much pain and kept playing. When he started to feel more and more, he told the coaching staff and went to get it checked out.

“They say it was fractured for two or three weeks,” Simpson said. “I just took some ibuprofen, wrapped it up and ran it off.”

But the coaching staff wanted to be careful. After all, Simpson is just a junior so injuring it further could put his career at risk. Plus, with easier games coming early in the playoffs it seemed silly not to rest his foot until they needed to be full strength.

So he sat during Dunkerton and he sat a large portion of the game again Kee. The River Hawks won both by 40+ points and Simpson got much needed rest on his foot.

“I was scared this was going to be my last game, so I definitely wanted to play it,” Simpson said. “It’s kind of new to me being on the sideline. I’ve been raised to push through the pain. It wasn’t unbearable, I could clearly run.”

With that rest, he’s feeling more like himself heading into the semifinal game this Wednesday. He’s been phenomenal on the ground for Easton Valley this season, averaging nearly a first down per carry.

“We make jokes in practice – it’s see ball, hit ball, get ball, run,” Simpson said. “Run like somebody is right behind you no matter what, you don’t stop until you reach the endzone.

“They make a huge hole. They help more than everybody sees. It’s all up to the line.”

His line and his offense take the field Wednesday against St. Mary’s Remsen on their quest for a state title.

Simpson still has a senior year to play whenever the River Hawks’ season wraps up. This experience with injury and this run to the state tournament has taught him lessons he knows he’ll take into next season. It was always a part of his mentality and now he’s proven that it’s a part of his game.

“After we get to the Dome, we go from there. Hopefully I’m fully healed,” Simpson said two weeks earlier. “I’ve learned to work hard on the field and in school. Even if it hurts keep running. Even if you’re losing, keep pushing.”

Easton Valley vs. Remsen St. Mary’s

The No. 3 state-ranked River Hawks take on St. Mary’s on Wednesday afternoon at the UNI-Dome in the 8-man state semifinals.

The River Hawks haven’t lost a game this season, and neither has Remsen St. Mary’s. The Hawks’ 64-42 win over Don Bosco in the quarterfinals was by far their closest game of the year.

The Hawks have dual-threat quarterback Cael Ortmann, who has thrown for 1440 yards this year and 28 touchdowns. Comparatively, River Hawks quarterback Conor Gruver has thrown 2605 yards for 48 touchdowns, a state-leading stat.

Charlie Simpson’s 1131 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns are also going up against 1161 from Remsen’s Cael Ortman with 1161 and 29 touchdowns. Carson Fuegen and Andin Farrell both have 200+ rushing yards for the River Hawks as well.

Remsen has 13 fumble recoveries and 20 interceptions on the season.

Easton Valley has 13 fumble recoveries and 15 interceptions.

Kickoff will be at 1 p.m. in Cedar Falls. The winner will play in the state title game next week.

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