After an extended period of no Leopards in the state all-star football game, two De Queen players have been selected for this year’s game: Jace Sims and Quinton Thornton.
Sims, the son of Kevin and Teresa Sims, was De Queen’s right offensive tackle last fall.
A native Leopard, Sims attended pre-school through 12 at De Queen.
He began playing football in the third grade. He participated in multi sports for several years, but eventually other sports lost their attraction.
“Football was always fun. I just always loved it. It just came naturally, but like everybody else, I had to work for it,” he said. “I enjoyed practice most days.”
Although it is an extremely physical game, Sims noted that it is mentally challenging as well. “You’ve always got something going on in your mind,” he noted.
Sims started in the Leopard offensive line all three years in high school. “I started off as a guard,” he recalled. The most memorable game of his sophomore year was against Hope.
“I played against (McTelvin) Agim, who is now at the University of Arkansas. Everybody was saying he was going to bowl me over. I held my own,” Sims recalled.
Before he settled in at right tackle, Sims was lined up at several positions his junior year, including some plays in the backfield.
“My junior year they had me and Tristan Snyder (De Queen’s 290 lb. all state center) in the backfield and he threw a pass for a score. That was fun getting to be a fullback,” Sims said.
He also played defense on special occasions. “I like it a lot,” he noted.
In his role of opening running lanes for Leopard ballcarriers, Sims has blocked big defenders and little defenders. “The little guys come at you harder. I’d rather have a big guy all day,” he said.
One of the reasons for Sims’s success blocking the smaller, agile type defender came from facing one frequently in practice. “It was fun practicing against Colby Cowley,” Sims said. “He comes at you with everything he’s got every play.”
Two memories from his senior year stand out for the recent DHS grad. “When Mack (Carver) made the interception at the goal line against Camden Fairview,” Sims said, “and definitely when we beat Nashville.”
Last fall De Queen ended its streak of losing seasons. Sims feels that could be the start of a Leopard revival. “I’m really excited for this bunch. They have a really solid team,” he said.
Being selected for the all star game came as a surprise. “I didn’t have a clue I was going to be chosen,” Sims said. “I’m not nervous, but I am excited. I’ve never gotten to watch one. It should be exciting.”
The experience is even better because a teammate is involved. “I always known Quinton’s a great player. I’m really happy that he’s going,” Sims said.
Although Sims is a tackle and Thornton a guard, they have rarely played side by side. “He’s always been on the opposite side of the center,” Sims said.
In August Sims plans to start college at UA Cossatot. His professional goal is electrical industrial technology. “You make good money and I enjoy fixing things,” he explained.
He will admit to taking apart the occasional appliance. “My parents always said I’m destructive,” he said. “I just like seeing how stuff works.”
Sims has not totally ruled out college football. “I’ll probably end up going to a four year school down the road. We’ll see what happens.”
Coaching may loom in his future as well. He is currently an assistant youth baseball coach. “I enjoy watching the boys progress, seeing them fall in love with sports,” he said.
His advice to young players is simple. “Practice how you want to play. What you put into it is what you’re going to get out of it. If you want to be great, you’ve got to practice great,” Sims explained.
And if the game is football, “It’s a lot more fun to hit somebody than to take a hit.”
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