RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Oscar Smith High School in Chesapeake is a state football powerhouse. It’s produced many high level players, many of whom were coached and shaped by former Tigers’ head coach Richard Morgan. A number of Morgan’s former athletes are staying on the pigskin path after their playing days are finished. Two of them are Perry Jones and Phillip Sims, and that has set the stage for the Morgan Bowl on Friday night in Richmond.
“I’ve known Perry since we were 10, 11 years old,” said Sims.
“We actually played each other in middle school, even dating back that far," added Jones.
Sims and Jones have been linked through football for a long time. They were three year teammates at Oscar Smith, then side-by-side again for a season at UVA.
“He was 5′8”, 5′9″, 185 lbs soaking wet," said Sims of Jones. “Probably the hardest hitter I’ve ever played with.”
“His knowledge of the game was unlike anything I had ever been around,” Jones noted of his former teammate. “He could throw a football. I’ve played at different levels and he’s the best I’ve seen throw a football.”
After college, both Jones and Sims got NFL shots (Jones with the Ravens, Sims with the Cardinals) and pursued professional careers. Sims played for a bit in Canada, but after their playing careers came to an end, both Oscar Smith graduates joined a handful of alumni to trade in their helmets for headsets, taking aim at the coaching ranks.
“I guess everybody got the same bug at the end of the day that we all wanted to coach,” smiled Sims. “It’s worked out well for us.”
Jones, a running back and linebacker in high school, then a running back in college, is currently in his first year as the head coach at Glen Allen. The former quarterback Sims is in the midst of his third season leading John Marshall.
“He’s a great coach,” said Jones in reference to Sims. “You can see what he’s doing with that program and those kids are following him, and that just speaks to his character.”
“I’m glad that it’s finally come to fruition and that he’s been able to get his opportunity to lead a program," added Sims of Jones. “I really can’t wait to see the direction he takes the program in.”
Friday night, however, they’ll stand in each other’s way. These two longtime teammates and friends will find themselves as football foes on opposite sidelines, leading their own programs, as the Jaguars and Justices face off.
“Us being two head coaches, this is it, man,” said Jones. “We’re both excited for it and I wish him the best, but ultimately I want to come out on top.”
“There are really no big secrets, not a lot that you can hide,” Sims noted. “We know each other so well through our background that it’s going to be whoever comes out and makes the most plays.”
Friday will mark the lone night of the year that the two friends will not be cheering for each other, but that only applies until the clock hits zero.
“I told him ‘I’m rooting for you nine weeks out of ten,’" laughed Sims. “That tenth week I’ve gotta go with my guys.”
“I’m sure he’s the same way. We’re both competitors, but I’m excited to be across the field from him," Jones said.
Both Glen Allen and John Marshall are in the hunt for the postseason in their respective regions. Both come in at 4-3, with the Jaguars on the outside looking in, hoping to climb into the top eight in Region 5B. The Justices currently hold the seventh position in Region 2A, which would get them into the playoffs.
Kickoff between Glen Allen and John Marshall is set for 7:00 on Friday night at Huguenot High School.
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