Pitman High’s Brent Nelle knew that Friday’s Division I SJS matchup against Tokay High would probably be his last at Joe Debely Stadium. For four years he had ran up and down the field; making defenders miss, scoring touchdowns, and padding his yardage into the thousands —Friday was a chance to go out with a bang.
Motivated by what he saw as an end to an era, the senior continued to do what he’s done all season, lead his team to victory. Nelle, along with his teammates, took advantage of a Tigers team that was not ready for the Pride en route to a 49-19 first-round win.
“My motivation is for my team. I’ve accomplished what I wanted to this year and now I want to carry my team as much as I can and help out anyway I can; I love these guys,” Nelle said. “This was probably the last time I’ll ever play on this field. I thought about that and said I better make the most of it.”
Pitman’s first points of the night came less than two minutes into regulation when Nelle barreled into the end zone from a few yards out. Two possessions later and Nelle was at it again, only this time he found pay dirt from 74 yards out on a play that took him from the right side of the defense, through its middle, and finally out through the left side where he outran Tokay’s Gary Norwood down the sideline. Nelle’s third and final touchdown came with 9:50 left in the second quarter when he capped an 11 yard drive with a six yard touchdown run. By halftime he had racked up 204 yards.
“I don’t think these guys understood our offense,” Nelle said. “There were a lot of cutbacks in this game. The teams in the CCC have mostly taken away the cutbacks, because we’re a cutback team.”
“He’s a senior and he obviously is the guy we go to,” Pitman’s head coach Brandon Harris said. “He put in another stellar performance.”
Tokay jumped onto the scoreboard late in the first quarter when a tipped Kelse DePauli-Wiltse pass landed in the hands of Norwood who proceeded to take it 40 yards into the end zone. The Tigers were unable to move the ball much against Pitman’s defense afterwards, however, as Nick Roditis and the rest of the Pride pressured DePauli-Wiltse and neutralized their running game.
The Tigers managed to take advantage of a 78 yard kickoff return from Bryson Schreiner and turn it into a six yard touchdown pass to Norwood with 42 seconds left in the half, but by that time a 25 yard touchdown run from the Pride’s Logan Wolfley had extended their lead 28-13.
Pitman’s offensive onslaught continued in the second half as the Pride scored on their first three possessions. Kody Brackett scored first from a yard out and was followed by two Mario Lewis scores, the first from five yards out and the second from three yards. The Pride’s defense also continued its punishment of Tokay’s offense. DePauli-Wiltse was intercepted twice by Nelle and Drew Lewis and the Tiger offense only managed to record 18 yards from scrimmage before Pitman’s backups were put in. Tokay scored from a yard out with 1:03 left in the game but by then it was in vain.
“I’m real happy with the way our guys came out in the second half and established themselves,” Harris said.
Pitman must now travel to Oak Ridge High on Friday for the second round of the Division I SJS Playoff Tournament.
“It’s all focus; all business next week,” Nelle said. “We can’t make any mistakes and we need to come out on fire.”