On a football field, there is very little Sims can’t do to win games for Derby.
“He’s played wide receiver, running back, quarterback, defensive back and he returns punts and kicks for us,” Derby coach Brandon Clark said. “He’s a team captain, very quiet but a good leader. And a great kid in school, somebody that everybody loves.”
Sims, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound senior, has racked up 1,313 yards of offense and 15 touchdowns this season, stepping in at quarterback for several games late in the season when starter Chandler Shantz went down.
Derby (10-1) hosts Hutchinson (9-2), the only team to beat the Panthers this season, on Friday night in a Class 6A semifinal.
I grew up in Wichita, right on the outskirts of Fairview right on the district line where you could still go to Derby. My mom raised me by herself and I grew up with her and my two older sisters, Rachel and Kayla. They’re both pretty protective of me, especially when it comes to dating and stuff like that.
(Laughing) They’re good about it when a girl is around, like they’ll be nice of course, but once they leave it’s ‘ Kellen, she’s no good for you,’ and all that. They were teenagers when I was little so they’re used to looking out for me.
My older cousin, Nick Sims, who played at Heights and plays for Pittsburg State. When I was a kid he always told me I couldn’t play football and then, finally, he called me a chicken and that just did it. I told myself I was going to play at least one season to show him he wasn’t right because we were so competitive.
I was in the third grade and (Nick) was in the fourth grade. I actually ended up playing on his team, with the older kids. After the year I just hated it and didn’t want to play again, but my mom forced me to go back out the next year and I’ve loved it every since.
The schools that I’m aware of are Missouri State and South Dakota State. I also talk to Emporia State about once each week. Once our season is over I’ll start to think about visits and stuff like that.
We’ve been talking about a state championship for the last two years. It’s not that anybody just brings it up, it’s just there. We feel like we’ve gotten more confident and more capable over the last two years and we’ve grown closer as a family. You bring a lot into chasing something like that, a lot of hard work, and it bonds you.
He’ll make you better as a person and as a player. As I got older I started to realize what he was trying to teach me and why I should listen to him. I was a little hard-headed at first ... I think one of the first conversations we ever had was when I was freshman and I’d missed some workouts. He walked up to me and told me that if I didn’t come to workouts, I couldn’t start for the freshman team.
I’ve been at every workout, ever since.