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October 18, 2012

Exchange student shines on the football field

No one expected foreign exchange student Noah Sims to be playing quarterback for Cooperstown this season.

No one.

Even Sims said he was surprised to find himself as the Redskins’ starting quarterback, after playing as a backup in practice.

"I just wanted to jump in and play as much as possible, wherever the coach told me to play," he said. "After our scrimmage, he said I would start at quarterback, to be honest I was surprised."

Sims' coach, Mark Segina, the Redskins’ first-year head football coach, said he couldn't really believe it either.

"I didn’t really think that it would be possible to teach someone with NO football experience all the ins and outs of the QB position," Segina said. "How to read coverages, look off safeties, run the progression, find and know the seams and holes in various coverage shells and how to recognize them, etc. That’s just the mental pre-snap read stuff, not the timing aspects that our offense is based on. What Noah is willing to do is devote all the time and effort after practice, on his own time, to learn all this information.

"I sometimes wonder just how good he would be if he had the typical senior’s progression of Pee Wee, modified and then two years of varsity experience prior to this year," Segina said.

Instead, the exchange student from Tatura, Australia, is living out his dreams to play American football for just this one season, all while helping Segina and Cooperstown rebuild its football program.

Sims has stayed with three families as part of his journey that began last winter — the Bayes, the McGuires and now the Bliss family.

The just-turned-17-year-old is listed as a senior, but will actually have two more years of grade school when he gets back to his hometown, in the province of Victoria, about two hours inland from Melbourne.

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