As Jordan Nees hobbled into the back field, stood eight defenders and a knee on the butt.
Nees led the eight-man football team of Tri-City in the regular season to a 7: 1 record behind his 2,045 meters on the ground. The 5-foot, 8-, 180-pound senior was fast enough to pass defenders, and strong enough to run through them after a shot of steam.
His vision of a field of blockers in front of him made Tri-City's attack vulnerable to the big game. Nees was able to set foot in the ground and defend himself against the defense's defensive grain, with the linebackers whirling in the open field.
He was 46 yards from breaking the former NFL when he returned to Chase Reynolds' Montana record as his career rushed into a first-round playoff game against Circle High School. Even if the defense charged the box against him, Nees averaged 255 yards per game. Breaking the record seemed like a foregone conclusion.
Nees stumbled during an exercise and suffered a serious knee injury in a Friday night pre-match practice, MontanaSports.com said. Normally, Tri-City coach Jake Stevenson would have held back his race, but in the playoffs and with the shot to break the record, he let Nees try to wipe out the first quarter.
But after eight meters on 18 trages, "his knee could not bear the punishment," Stevenson said.
"It was too much to endure when he had to fight him in the fight for the ball and try to cover up the pain he had," added the coach.
Circle scored 32-0 in the first quarter and Tri-City did not make a comeback. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, with a score of 52: 0, Stevenson Nees put back into the game for a final run in the record.
He took a handoff and ran to the left, and as he broke through a hole in the offensive line, the Circle's defenders recognized that this was not an ordinary running game. They escorted him down the sideline to gain a 35-yard gain that gave him 5,223 career moves and the state record.
Circle players ran from their bench across the field to Nees to hug and shake hands.
"It's moments like this," said Stevenson, "that remind me, as a coach and everyone who participated in the game that day, how much high school football and the lessons he teaches are much bigger than that the wins and losses. "
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