Simone brothers take pride in each other’s success

December 3, 2010

By Mason Kelley

NEW — 11:15 a.m. Dec. 3, 2010

As the clock expired, Jordan Simone looked into the stands.

Skyline High School’s football team had just finished off a 35-34 come-from-behind victory over Curtis in the Class 4A semifinals and the senior wanted to find his brother. Gino was about 10 rows back on the 45-yard line.

They made eye contact and pointed at each other. It was a simple signal between state champions, former teammates but, more important that anything else, siblings.

“That was a really powerful moment for me,” said Gino, a receiver for Washington State who won state titles with Skyline in 2007 and 2008.

Later, down near the field, Gino hugged his younger brother.

“I’m so proud of you,” he said.

Jordan finished the game with eight catches for 165 yards and made several key defensive plays, leading the Spartans (12-1) back to the state-title game for the fourth consecutive season. Skyline faces Spokane’s Ferris (13-0) at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Tacoma Dome.

“It’s surreal because I can’t believe it’s my senior season and we’re in the state-championship game,” Jordan said. “All the hard work and everything I’ve put in, it’s all worth it.”

Gino isn’t surprised by his younger brother’s success. He has expected it since the uber-competitive receiver was a child.

When Gino would beat him in basketball growing up, Jordan would challenge him to a rematch. To entice his older brother to play again, he would throw down a $5 bet. If he lost, his response was always, “double or nothing.”

“He’s just that kind of a fiery kid, and I’ve always admired that about him,” Gino said.

On the rare occasions when Jordan beat his brother in one of the many things they competed in, he would run into the house shouting, “I beat Gino! I beat Gino!”

When Gino left Skyline as a record-setting receiver, Jordan told him, “It’s my turn now. I’m coming for all your records.”

As a junior, Jordan didn’t set any, but he did haul in one of the more important touchdown receptions during the Spartans’ state-title run. In the semifinals against Bothell, he caught a pass along the sideline, took a big hit, spun and sprinted for the end zone.

He broke his collarbone on the hit, but it couldn’t keep him from scoring.

“If I broke my collarbone in the middle of a play, I would probably still run, too, but I wouldn’t be able to outrun the other guys,” said receiver Kasen Williams. “It’s extremely impressive.”

Jordan didn’t waste much time before telling his brother about what he accomplished.

“You never broke anything and finished with a touchdown,” Jordan said.

Heading into Jordan’s senior season, coach Mat Taylor touted him as a potential Division I college player. Jordan responded by catching six passes for more than 200 yards and four touchdowns — all in the first half against Liberty in Week 1.

“I had always known that I could do great things for this program, but it never really dawned on me until the first game,” Jordan said.

Heading into the title game, he has 61 catches for 1,189 yards and 15 touchdowns. And, in keeping with the spirit of the brotherly rivalry, he’s outdone his brother’s senior season, when Gino had 51 catches for 861 yards and 14 touchdowns.

“He has really improved each and every year, and his improvement just from his junior to senior year was unbelievable and his improvement throughout the season,” Taylor said. “Those are some pretty legitimate numbers. He’s been a real leader on defense, too, a real emotional leader.”

The only thing left for Jordan to accomplish, outside of winning a state title this weekend, is earning a college scholarship.

“I’m not getting as much attention as I would like, but I’m just focusing on this week,” Jordan said. “I’ll worry about that after.”

When Jordan takes the field against Ferris in Tacoma, Gino will be running routes in the Apple Cup in Pullman. After it’s over, they’ll probably compare stats, while celebrating each other’s success.

“You can’t find a better brother,” Gino said. “You can’t.”

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