The postgame announcement might have seemed anticlimactic.
When it came to revealing the Most Outstanding Player for University High, there was little doubt the recipient would be senior running back Nicholas Brossette after his team’s 46-32 victory Friday over Parkview Baptist for the Division II select state championship.
Brossette made the slow walk, pumped his fists skyward, posed for pictures and returned to share in the moment, where he held his plaque in the direction of his jubilant teammates and yelled, “This is for ya’ll.”
The final game of Brossette’s record-setting career proved to be quite a roller-coaster ride, overcoming a pair of first-half fumbles to set an Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Prep Classic composite rushing record with 272 yards on 37 carries and three touchdowns.
“It feels great,” Brossette said of the state title. “Just being with this group of guys, my O-line and my coaches, I want to thank everybody that had faith in me. I thank the O-line for opening holes for me and thank coach (Chad) Mahaffey for putting me in good situations.”
Brossette, an LSU commitment, concluded the season with 1,833 yards, pushing his five-year career total to 8,706 yards and eclipsing former Patterson All-American Kenny Hilliard’s state career rushing mark of 8,603 yards.
Brossette’s three touchdowns also gave him 27 for the season and 137 over the past four years of his career, breaking a tie for sixth place on the national career list.
“I wasn’t trying to paying that any mind,” Brossette said of Hilliard’s record. “I came out here to win and get the state title.”
“Even as a young kid, he’s always wanted the ball in big situations,” Mahaffey said. “He’s improved as a player. He really wanted to perform in those moments, and that’s a credit to him.”
In order to reach the signature moment of his career, Brossette had to endure some rough moments from an opportunistic Parkview Baptist defense that forced him to fumble twice in just over a five-minute span that bridged the end of the first and second quarter.
Brossette appeared headed for a tying touchdown with 51 seconds left in the opening quarter when he was stood up at the end of run near the goal line and stripped by PBS’ Trent Kavanaugh.
The second miscue came when Brossette was heading down to the turf at the end of a 24-yard run where K.J. Drummer forced a fumble that Sam O’Brien recovered at the Eagles’ 12-yard line midway through the second half.
“During halftime the team said they had my back and coach was telling me to keep plugging away,” Brossette said. “I just forgot about it (fumbles).”
Brossette repaid the confidence shown by U-High’s coaching staff and players, flourishing during a second half in which the Cubs outscored the Eagles 30-18.
“I don’t care how many times he fumbles, I’d keep giving him the ball every play if I could,” U-High quarterback and close friend Manny Miles said. “It wasn’t like he wasn’t running hard in the first half. He came back, ran hard and finished the run.”
Brossette carried 26 times for 193 yards in the final 24 minutes, scoring all three of his touchdowns during a nine-minute span, when U-High turned a four-point deficit into a 38-26 lead with 8:29 remaining in the game.
The Cubs continually fed Brossette the ball, a stretch of the third and fourth quarter where he carried on 17 of his team’s 22 plays that included touchdown runs of 5 and 32 yards.
“He’s always been dependable and played well in big games,” Mahaffey said. “He’s got a lot more than just height, weight and speed. He’s got heart and confidence.”