Ashland-Greenwood coach Ryan Thompson has gotten used to watching Trevor Nichelson chew up big chunks of yardage.
So last Friday’s game against Milford-Dorchester wasn’t much different. That is until he was told Nichelson’s rushing total.
“We obviously knew throughout the game that he was getting some yards, but we didn’t know until after when our statkeeper said what he had,” Thompson said. “We were pretty amazed by it.”
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound senior said he figured his total would be around 300 yards.
It was 474.
About an hour after the game, Thompson got a text from a friend, telling him he better check the state records.
Nichelson’s total topped the all-class 11-man record of 464, set by Crofton’s Tom Peitz in 2011.
“I got good blocking. The line made a lot of holes for me,” Nichelson said. “It’s cool that it’s the record at least for a while.”
Nichelson ran the ball 29 times and scored five touchdowns in the 41-27 win, and most of his 474 yards came on those five scoring carries. His touchdowns were from 65, 65, 62, 65 and 92 yards, but it’s not breakaway speed that produces Nichelson’s long runs.
“You can’t take him down with an arm tackle,” Thompson said. “I think he uses his wrestling background to really set up his blocks, set up his angles, because he knows on a track he’s not winning a lot of races.
“But for some reason on the football field, his vision and his way of breaking through the first tackle and setting everyone up has allowed him to flourish over his four years.”
Nichelson has started on defense throughout his high school career. As a middle linebacker this season, he’s had double-digit tackles in all four games. He became a starting running back midway through his freshman year. He ran for 668 yards as a freshman, 1,752 as a sophomore and 2,142 last season. He has averaged 7.8 yards per carry for his career.
Nichelson, whose best game before last Friday was 302 yards last year against Boys Town, already is over 1,000 yards this season and has a career total of 5,634. He’s 465 yards from the Class C-1 career rushing record.
Thompson said Nichelson’s experience and maturity have allowed him to keep getting better as a running back.
“Each year he’s obviously gotten stronger and a little bit faster, but he’s just so smart at what he does,” Thompson said. “He understands the scheme and understands what his guys up front are doing to open up those holes.”
And that wrestling background helps, too, with his balance and agility. Nichelson is a two-time state champion and has a career record of 120-11.
Nichelson said he’s leaning toward competing in wrestling after high school as he’s gotten more interest from college coaches in that sport. “But I still have time to change my mind,” he said.
Thompson added: “He loves to compete and work. He works for everything he gets. Everything he’s earned so far, he’s put in the time.”