Who is this Josh Simangunsong and where did he come from? And did I spell his name right? When Temple City Coach Mike McFarland calls his name you can’t blame him for yelling simply “Simon!”
Simangunsong, pronounced (Si-mon-gun-song), did not carry the ball last year- not once. The Rams had Max Ruckle, who rushed for over 1000 yards, and Andrew Gibson, who spelled Ruckle, and ran for over 100.
Oh he caught some passes- four to be exact- for a grand total of 10 yards. But he never carried the ball. He was a cornerback.
But with Ruckle graduated and Gibson moving on to Rosemead, McFarland needed a running back. He looked at his roster, considered his options and turned to Simangunsong.
“He wanted to play there and we really didn’t have anybody else with any experience,” McFarland said. “We didn’t really know how he would do but he’s our fastest guy.”
The move has paid off. Friday night against Rio Hondo League foe La Canada, Simangunsong couldn’t be stopped. He ran by defenders, through tacklers, and over the opposition all night long. By the time the final gun sounded he had racked up 240 yards and three touchdowns. He was the fuel that ignited the Temple City offense. Oh and by the way he also caught a pass out of the backfield for 18 yards to set up a touchdown.
Whenever McFarland, who is in his first year at Temple City, needed a big first down he called on Simon. When he needed to chew up yardage and run clock he called on Simon. In fact on nearly every series he called on Simon.
“He has speed but also plenty of other intangibles. He’s got great vision, great feet and good acceleration,” McFarland said. “He’s always moving. He never stops.”
Temple City started off slow this season. The Rams lost their first three games including two in which they were blown out. In the Mid-Valley Classic against Arroyo, the Rams’ season opener, Simangunsong was injured on the second series and didn’t get even one carry in a 42-6 loss.
He got going in the second game against Alhambra rushing for 143 yards but in a 42-14 loss in week three vs. Arcadia he was held to 60 yards on just 10 carries. Since then he has had four straight 100 plus yard games including the 240 yard outburst last week. On the year Simangunsong has rushed for 860 yards and 10 touchdowns. He is averaging 7.34 yards per carry.
As the Rams get better so does Simangunsong.
“He has really found his niche. He’s gaining confidence and is confident in his running style,” McFarland said.
The Rams have won three of their last four and more importantly are 2-0 in the Rio Hondo.
The one game they didn’t win during that span was a heart breaking one point loss to Rosemead. TC was up 28-9 early in the third quarter before the Panthers came back to win 29-28 with just over a minute left.
“Even though we didn’t win that game we learned a lot. We didn’t finish against Rosemead. We learned from that and now we are finishing games,” said McFarland.
Simangunsong has starred for the Rams on Friday nights but you wouldn’t know it from the way he conducts himself during the week.
McFarland has been impressed with the way Simangunsong practices.
“He doesn’t try to stand out and what I mean by that is he doesn’t stand apart from his teammates. He does everything like everybody else does. He has a great work ethic and fits in really well with his teammates,” McFarland said. “He’s unassuming. There’s no pretentiousness to him.”
This week the Rams will face their stiffest test of the year in at Monrovia.
“There an awful good football team right now but our agenda is the same. We just try to improve every day,” McFarland added.
As for Simangunsong he’s improving every day as well. And eventually we’ll learn how to pronounce his name.
That’s my principle.
Tim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.