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A special connection for Oxbow

  • Oxbow High quarterback Cooper Simmons looks downfield during an Aug. 16, 2019, practice. The senior has teamed with classmate Hunter Locke to ramp up the Olympians' passing attack. (Tris Wykes - Valley News) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Purchase a reprint » Purchase a reprint » Purchase a reprint » valley news — Tris Wykes

  • Hunter Locke, seated and second from right, takes a breather with his Oxbow High football teammates during an Aug. 16, 2019, practice session. Locke and senior classmate Hunter Simmons have sparked the Olympians' passing attack this season. (Tris Wykes - Valley News) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Purchase a reprint » Purchase a reprint » Purchase a reprint » —Tris Wykes

  • Oxbow High's Hunter Locke (2) leaps unsuccessfully in an attempt to catch a Cooper Simmons pass during the Olympians' Sept. 21, 2019, loss to visiting BFA-Fairfax. (Tris Wykes - Valley News) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Purchase a reprint » Purchase a reprint » Purchase a reprint » valley news — Tris Wykes

  • Cooper Simmons, Oxbow High senior football quarterback.

  • Hunter Locke, Oxbow High senior football player.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 10/7/2019 10:14:30 PM
Modified: 10/7/2019 10:14:25 PM

Cooper Simmons read the mismatch at the line of scrimmage.

His go-to wideout, Hunter Locke, was to his far left in an easy one-on-one matchup. Simmons snapped the ball and immediately looked to the left.

He let go an easy deep ball, which Locke caught in stride on his fade route, five yards away from the end zone.

The Simmons-Locke connection was in full effect for Oxbow High football on the 50-yard touchdown play, the second of two touchdowns for the duo on Saturday against visiting Windsor.

With six games in the books, it’s not a secret anymore. The two seniors continue to make their case as the best offensive combination in Upper Valley high school football.

At the very least, it’s in the conversation.

“He uses his arm; I use my hands. Simple as that,” Locke said after the Olympians’ 37-36 win. “When he steps up in the pocket and delivers that throw, it’s on the dot every singe time.”

The statistics don’t lie.

Simmons leads the Upper Valley with 1,358 passing yards, 76 completions and 16 touchdown passes. His total passing yards is double the amount of the second-leading passer in the Upper Valley.

Furthermore, Locke’s 12 touchdown receptions lead all Upper Valley wide receivers by five scores. He’s also racked up 774 yards and 30 receptions.

The two have helped the O’s (3-3) outscore opponents, 167-141. A season ago, they were outscored, 310-126, en route to a 2-7 season. Oxbow didn’t compete at the varsity level the year before that due to participation numbers.

“The hands that Hunter has, anytime he’s able to go up, over and around people,” coach Chad Wescott said. “And Simmons. I mean, nine times out of 10, that ball’s where it’s supposed to be, and it’s there in a hurry.

“I’ve been around the game for a long time, but to see a kid that can grasp the game the way he does, he knows where every one of his kids are going, the routes they’re running. His precision, most of the time, it’s incredible. He knows where to deliver the ball time and time again. He just makes big plays when it matters.”

The first of Locke’s touchdowns Saturday showed his ability to make defenses miss.

Not even two minutes into the game, he sprinted across the middle of the field and caught a pass from Simmons around the Windsor 30-yard line. He then made multiple defenders miss, just because of his speed, and walked into the end zone while a Windsor defender tried to catch up.

On the play, Simmons hit Locke right in the chest when he was crossing midfield and let him do the rest of the work. Another long score, this one 44 yards.

Against Springfield on Sept. 7, Simmons threw for 263 yards and three touchdowns, all of the scores caught by Locke.

The eye-opener came in the second quarter, when Simmons put the ball high enough where only Locke could get it. He extended his left hand for a one-hand catch on the 20-yard line. From there he made a defender miss and sprinted into the end zone for the touchdown.

“He’s one of the best wide receivers in the division, if not the state,” Simmons said. “His route running is unbelievable.”

Two games remain on Oxbow’s schedule — a home date with Poultney (5-1) on Saturday, a visit to Mill River (1-5) the following Saturday — before playoffs come around. Oxbow is 0-6 all-time in the VPA Division III playoffs. The O’s lost to Poultney, 41-8, in last year’s quarterfinals.

Simmons strictly plays quarterback for the O’s; Locke plays both ways. Locke’s ability track down the ball is helpful for Simmons, but also for Oxbow’s secondary.

It’s no secret that both will be needed if they want to do any postseason damage.

“We’re just going to continue to do that (use the Simmons and Locke duo). Continue to get better each week and be ready for the playoffs,” Wescott said.

Pete Nakos can be reached at pnakos@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.




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