The coaching staff at Pittsburg State University got a glimpse of what Sima Thomas could do when the Fort Osage graduate and former Examiner Defensive Player of the Year turned in the most dominating defensive performance in the history of the Missouri-Kansas All-Star Game back in 2016.
He finished the game with 11 tackles, five sacks and two tackles behind the line of scrimmage to lead the Missouri squad to a come-from-behind 28-24 victory.
So it should surprise no one from Fort Osage or Pitt State that Thomas was named to the Don Hansen Football Committee All-Super Region III team this week.
The 6-foot-2, 280-pound defensive end finished his sophomore year with 36 tackles, 21 solo tackles, nine tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
“I told Sima’s parents (at the pre-game dinner) that he was going to win the Defensive Lineman of the Game MVP Award,” Missouri coach Tom Kruse told The Examiner after the 2016 all-star game. “Sima was unbelievable. I saw that intensity in practice and it carried over into the game.”
Former Fort Osage coach Ryan Schartz, who led the Indians to their first state championship Thomas’ senior year, agreed with Kruse.
“Sima was a great locker room guy,” said Schartz, who is entering his second year as the activities director at Fort Osage. “He always had a positive attitude and was and is such a well-rounded young man. He was obviously physically gifted, but his mental and emotional approach to preparation and execution was great.”
Because he didn’t fit the “Division I mold” of a college linebacker – standing at least 6-foot-3 – Pitt State received a young man who could redefine the defensive end position at the MIAA and Division II power.
“I think I realized that he would be a college standout when he had such a strong senior season with us,” Schartz added. “We have had some really good players on the defensive line over the years, but he was separating himself and continued to elevate his play. In other words he had a very high ceiling. I always knew he had the mental toughness to make it at the college level.
“What make him so successful is his approach to life. He is always positive and upbeat. Not much bothers him. He has other interests outside of football that creates a balance in his life.”
Schartz paused for a moment and added, grinning, “And yes, his motor does stop, just ask him to play a piece on the piano, or ukulele and you will find a very peaceful young man.”
And now, Thomas, who earned all-conference honorable mention honors a true freshman and added MIAA all-conference first-team honors this year, has found a new home and family at Pitt State.
“It is a blessing that Pittsburg State offered me a scholarship because I have found a new home – a home that was like my home at Fort Osage, where everyone is part of a special family,” Thomas said by phone. “It’s been a fun ride. I was able to play – and contribute – my freshman year and this year, I made an even bigger contribution.”
When asked about his latest postseason honor, he chuckled.
“Man, I was never even thinking about an honor like that,” he said. “I am so blessed. So blessed – and believe me, now that the season is over, I am going to take the time to enjoy this honor. It is very special to me. But I will keep working hard to get ready for next season.”
While Thomas played nose tackle at Fort Osage, which ran a 3-4 defense, he had to learn a new position and new defensive scheme with the Gorillas.
“I moved to D-end and we play a 4-3 or 4-2-5 defense and I had to be like a sponge and soak up the play book,” he said. “But I couldn’t have better coaches or teammates around me. They have helped so much, especially my freshman season. Now, it’s just all natural, second nature.”
The Gorillas used a strong finish to wrap up an 8-4 campaign that saw the team allow just 21.6 points and 345.6 total yards per game – third best in the MIAA in both categories.
“We had a good season, and are anticipating an even better season next year,” Thomas said. “I can’t wait.”