DILLON — When Nate Simkins graduated from high school in Dillon in 2016, there was just one college football team he wanted to play for, and it was just a mile down the road.
Five years later and that choice is continuing to pay gridiron dividends.
"I grew up loving Western and my family went here so I decided to come to Western," said the redshirt senior wide receiver, who caught a school-record 13 touchdown receptions in 2019. "Probably one of the best decisions I've made."
In No. 23 Western's 42-28 win over MSU-Northern on Saturday, Simkins hauled in three touchdown receptions from Jon Jund, all in the first half to give him four TDs on the season. That performance earned him Frontier Conference Player of the Week honors on Monday.
"We found the holes in their defense in the first half," Simkins said. "Me and Jon have been playing together for a couple of years so we kind of know what each other are thinking. So we just knew where to be and how and where he was going to throw it. We were really connecting."
A Dillon product, Simkins won two State A titles (2014 and 2016) with the Beavers under then head coach Rick Nordahl.
He redshirted for the Bulldogs in 2016 and then had five touchdowns in both 2017 and 2018 before exploding for his breakout 2019 season.
With his hat trick on Saturday, Simkins is on pace to meet or exceed what he accomplished two years ago. But, as always, he's not motivated by records.
"I'm just going game by game," Simkins said. "If it happens, it happens. I'm really just looking to win the Frontier Conference this year."
Now sitting at 2-1 in conference play, Western now faces Montana Tech on Saturday in Butte, with the Orediggers coming off a 31-29 win over No. 24 Rocky Mountain College.
"It's a big rivalry," Simkins said. "Going up to Tech, that's a pretty rowdy atmosphere to play, they have a really good home field advantage. Should be a really good game next week."