Gainesville High quarterback Blake Sims is new to Region 7-AAA, but his name has been spoken of for a while.
Local high school football fans awaited his premiere in a Red Elephants uniform since he moved to Gainesville last spring, and it was only a matter of time before they would see if he would live up to the hype he brought with him.
He did just that. He completed 18 of 20 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns, and had 24 yards rushing and a touchdown in Gainesville’s 35-0 win against Chestatee on Friday at War Eagle Stadium.
"I pretty much have to give it to my wide receivers in that game," Sims said. "If they hadn’t caught the ball, I wouldn’t have had such a good game last weekend."
The Red Elephants saw a major change in offensive starters this year after their offense lost a 3,000-yard quarterback in Justin Fordham, running back Kendrick Harris and two college-bound receivers in Tyler Adetona and Gerald Ford to graduation last year.
But even with new players at every skill position on offense, Sims has learned to adjust and create chemistry with the other new Gainesville starters.
"It hasn’t been hard to adjust to this team," Sims said. "It’s like coming to another family."
That family has supported him well, as he was very well-received upon his arrival to the team, according to Red Elephants head coach Bruce Miller.
"He has fit in well," Miller said. "He’s very popular with our student body, and even after about a week at our school he was well-adjusted.
"He’s a very fast learner, he has picked up the offense, and he still wants to know more," Miller said.
Sims isn’t completely without experience. During his sophomore year at his previous school, Cass High in Cartersville, he passed for 1,036 yards with six touchdowns, and rushed for 318 yards and four touchdowns.
"It wasn’t much of a difference because I’ve been starting since I was a freshman at Cass," Sims said. "When I came up here, I was a starter again."
Instead, the biggest difference for Sims has been the amount of determination he has seen in his teammates, greater than anything he saw at Cass.
"This team wants it more," Sims said of his new team’s effort. "Cass wanted it, but they didn’t want it as much as we do, and that’s going to take us deep this year."
Sims hasn’t just brought a hard work ethic and some impressive numbers to the Red Elephants, but he has also given Gainesville a potential Division-I prospect. Several schools have requested more information about him, including Georgia, Georgia Tech, West Virginia, South Carolina and Clemson.
"He’s a Division-I player," Miller said. "A lot of those Division-I schools are beginning to ask us about him."
For Sims, the only thing on his mind right now is his role as the new Red Elephants quarterback and getting his team their first region title since 2005.
"We don’t really care who gets the points or who gets the most yards, we just want a win at the end of the game," Sims said. "Gainesville is a great football team, and I like it here."