Year's best: Borges, Simpson honored by Gridiron Club

By ALEX SPONSELLER
Posted 8/6/20

The Providence Gridiron Club held its annual awards ceremony last week at the Cranston Country Club, and Pilgrim’s Blake Simpson and Mike Borges were two locals to be recognized.

Borges, who …

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Year's best: Borges, Simpson honored by Gridiron Club

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The Providence Gridiron Club held its annual awards ceremony last week at the Cranston Country Club, and Pilgrim’s Blake Simpson and Mike Borges were two locals to be recognized.

Borges, who was the team’s starting quarterback during his junior and senior campaigns, was named the Division III Back of the Year for his Super Bowl winning season.
Borges brought his dual threat ability to the Pilgrim offense as a force in both the run game and passing game, which was a big advantage in game planning each week, according to Simpson.

“Mike was very deserving of the award. I hands down voted for him because of what I know about him. There’s no way to describe it, he’s one of the hardest players to scout for since he’s not built like a normal quarterback. He’s hard to take down, sneaky with his RPO’s,” said Simpson.

Simpson was named the Division III Coach of the Year, guiding the Pats to an undefeated season which resulted in Pilgrim’s first football championship since 1975. Simpson also led Pilgrim to a Super Bowl appearance in 2018, his first year as head coach.

“It feels great to get an award like that because it is voted on by the coaches in your division. For them to vote for me is very humbling but for me it goes far beyond our win and loss record,” said Simpson, who has also been proud of the charitable work that his team has done for the city, including working events such as last year’s Thanksgiving and backpack drive for the Dream Center of Rhode Island and Read Across America at Oakland Beach Elementary School. “We’ve done a lot for the community as a whole. It’s great to get acknowledged but I want people to know that we do more than just football. To go 12-0, win a Super Bowl, it’s just a great way to finish the year.

As a young head coach, Simpson credits his quick success to the familiarity with his players that he has gained, and hopes to continue to see Pilgrim work toward eventually becoming a Division I team. The league underwent a realignment earlier this offseason and bumped the Pats up to Division II.

“I didn’t think it would happen this quick but I knew that I had built a rapport with the players. I was the JV coach for this graduating class, then I was the offensive coordinator, so I got to know them and it helped in a big way that I moved up the ladder as they moved up in grade,” said Simpson. “I’m still young, so it’s a great accomplishment. There’s more to happen down the road, I don’t see myself going anywhere anytime soon. We took another step by going up to Division II. That’s a goal for building Pilgrim back up and I think we can get to the Division I level as long as we get the players. Success brings numbers.”

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