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Chris Simdorn Raids Forward

[text_output]There’s a great argument to be made that Chris Simdorn is the best quarterback in Bison football history. With two national championships as the starting quarterback and another when he was redshirting in 1986, Simdorn has taken his championship drive under the lights to the high school football field.[/text_output]
[text_output]Chris Simdorn 1990 division II championshipBison Illustrated: Your 2013 quarterback Jacques Perra was a preferred walk-on at the University of Minnesota last year. How’s he doing?

Chris Simdorn: “He’s doing awesome. We stay in touch on a regular basis. He, unfortunately, hurt his thumb right before the Spring Game. I mean literally the Monday or Tuesday before they were supposed to play on Saturday. He and a running back collided on a mix-up in protection and he jammed his thumb and strained a bunch of tendons and ligaments in his thumb and couldn’t grab a ball and he couldn’t play. That really hurt him because it was going to be a great opportunity to get some reps and show the coaches what he can do in that setting. But otherwise, it’s been good. He’s been traveling. He was number three last year and was still red-shirted so he got to keep the extra year of eligibility which was important. Talking with Coach Kill, they really love his work ethic and his ability and I think he can definitely help them down the road here. When that is? Sooner or later? We don’t know. Right now I believe he’s still sitting third behind, (Mitch) Leidner and (Chris) Streveler. I know they’re trying to do some other things with Streveler so that may happen. You never know what’s possible.”

BI: How did you get into coaching right after you graduated in 1991?

CS: “It really wasn’t something that I thought about as a kid growing up. I tried some professional options. Obviously, I didn’t get drafted and not much happened that way. I went overseas for a short period and played in Europe, but that didn’t really work out very well. When I got back Coach Hager, my old head coach, asked if I was interested in coaching and I said, ‘Yeah’ since I wasn’t able to do any playing anymore. I thought it would be a good way to keep football in my life. I obviously love the game and love being a part of it. He offered me a position to actually stay on there as a student coaching assistant at NDSU. Then I was able to get my secondary education teaching degree because originally I had gotten a business administration degree. Shoot, before I went over to Europe I was ready to become a life insurance salesman for MetLife (laughs). I just couldn’t picture myself getting up and getting a suit on every day and selling insurance, so I kind of told Coach Hager that sounded good and I did that. I stayed up there and I coached wide receivers for two years at NDSU and I really loved learning the game and everything that goes into it throughout the week that the coaches did behind the scenes. That really peaked my interest to continue down that road.”

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[text_output]Chris Simdorn 1990 Rocky Hager SidelineBI: How have you applied what you learned from your high school coach Frank Hentges?

CS: “His honest way of approaching players. He was a very straightforward guy and the players really liked Coach Hentges and would just play for him because he was very honest and upfront with the way he handled the kids. I really liked that approach. It made me respect him and hopefully it makes my players respect me as a coach and they know I’m going to be honest and upfront with them. Sometimes they don’t like what I say (laughs), but I think once they step back and realize I’m just being honest and upfront about what’s best for themselves on the team hopefully they respect that and me as a coach. Certainly the knowledge. Frank was a very good, good strategic guy. His ability to dissect a defense and attack a defense and to put his players in the best position I thought helped and he was excellent at that.”

BI: What about your coach at NDSU, Rocky Hager?

CS: “What I learned from Rocky was more on the opposite side of the ball. … He really was the first coach for me to describe the game in a defensive perspective. I’d also came up with an offensive perspective, ‘This is what we want to do, this is the play we’re going to run.’ Whereas Coach Hager as a defensive coach, he always explained things from the other side of the ball when he came over. ‘Hey, this guy has this gap. If goes there then his responsibility is here,’ and he really taught me a lot about defense and how to attack them where their weaknesses were and really everybody’s responsibility.”

BI: How did you land the Roseville Raiders High School football head-coaching job in 2001?

CS: “It’s crazy. They always say in life it’s not what you know, but who you know. All my jobs I’ve gotten through teaching and coaching have been through friends and acquaintances, from people that I knew and helped get my foot in the door. … I went to Minneapolis North, it was all former players. Almost our entire staff was former Bison players and that was through Mike Favor, who became the head coach at Minneapolis North High School. I coached over there with Andy Ewald, who’s another NDSU lineman from years ago. Carlos Myles was a coach over there, he was an outside linebacker at NDSU. So there was a whole group of us that went over to North and coached there for a number of years. That was awesome. That was really my first experience of being a complete offensive coordinator. … That was my first time putting an offensive system in and doing all the play calling myself and doing the adjustments during the game and at halftime and so forth. That was me really, really getting my feet wet for the first time.”[/text_output]

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[text_output]Chris Simdorn 1990 NDSU Football MugBI: You played in the veer offense scheme, but it seems like these high schools nowadays like to throw the football. What goes into that adjustment period to a different system?

CS: “There was a little bit of a learning curve there with the passing game and the route combinations, and what routes are used to attack certain types of coverages and what would work best in those situations. So all that comes with experience; you just have to try to get as much experience as you can and then the adjustments become a little easier over time. Again, I go back to the fact that it’s still the game of football.”

BI: You guys had a great 2013 season, but last season your record slipped a little bit. How is this team going to respond this year?

CS: “We’re going to be a young team. Our group of seniors is a smaller group than what we normally have with kids just not playing or quitting over the years whatever it may be. Sometimes you don’t know what you’re going to get with the young kids. Some kids really step up and surprise you when they get under the lights on Friday night, and other kids don’t work that way so we’re going to be young and I’m not really quite sure, but we do have some nice young talented kids that I really like as football players and I think we have some kids that can do great things. We’ll just see where they’re at so hopefully they’re ready to go as juniors and maybe some sophomores will be playing next year, too. … There’s a little unknown coming into this season with what we’re going to get out of this group, but I do like the offseason we’ve had. I think we’ll have a nice competitive team so we’ll see how it goes.”[/text_output]

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