By Trey Mongrue
Amidst all of the celebration and relief that came with being crowned a state champion, a particularly frightening thought breached the mind of University High School coach Chad Mahaffey.
He will no longer be coaching a game with Nick Brossette lining up in his backfield.
“Oh man, it’s very scary,” Mahaffey said of life without his running back. “I’ve never coached a game without him.”
Mahaffey was named the head coach at University back in 2010. In that same year, Brossette joined the football program as an eighth grader with a truckload of untapped potential.
In the time and games since, the coach and player formed an unbreakable bond and won quite a few games along the way. That all culminated with a 46-32 victory over district-rival Parkview Baptist last Saturday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to take home the Division II LHSAA State Title.
“Nick has just been such a steady factor with this team for a long time,” Mahaffey said. “He’s got a lot of money in the bank from over the years. He has proven what he can do.”
In his final game as a U-High Cub, Brossette made sure that he left it all on the field. And Mahaffey certainly made sure that he had the opportunity.
Brossette was handed the ball 37 times which the senior running back turned into 272 rushing yards – both totals are newly set Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Prep Classic records – and three second half touchdowns. Of course, a performance like that earned him the game’s Most Outstanding Player award.
“It’s tremendous,” Brossette said of the big workload on high school football’s largest stage. “I know that Coach Mahaffey has my back and he told me to just keep doing what I’m doing.”
Even despite two uncharacteristic fumbles in the first half, Mahaffey’s confidence with the ball in Brossette’s hands never wavered and it paid off in spades.
“There was never a doubt that it wasn’t going to be his night,” explained Mahaffey. “He has always wanted the ball in big situations.”
That has been the mantra for Brossette all throughout his high school career and it has suited him pretty well. With his performance in New Orleans now in the books, Brossette pushed his career rushing total up to 8,706 yards, breaking the state record of 8,603 yards set by former Patterson High School and current LSU running back Kenny Hilliard.
However, Brossette was not thinking much about that. Having had a bad experience in the State Championship one year ago when U-High was shutout by John Curtis, the only thing he had on his mind was a trophy.
“I got emotional,” he recalled of the moment when he watched the time run out and it dawned on him that he and his teammates were champions. “I do this for a living and I have a lot on my plate and I just thank my family and my coach for always pushing me to this point.
“Thinking back to last year, I didn’t want that feeling to happen to us again.”
With the team goal achieved, Brossette’s reward is a well-earned respite from football – but not too long of one.
In just a few weeks, he will make a trip to St. Petersburg, Fla. where he and the rest of America’s best young football players will participate in the Under Armour High School All-American Game on Jan. 2.
“I can’t take that long of a break,” he laughed. “I get a week off and then I guess that it’s back to working.”
The work will seemingly continue for Brossette with the calendar turning to 2015. After his trip to Florida, he will then sit down and take one final look at where he plans to play college football.
While he has been verbally committed to LSU since August of last year, the recruiting process has by no means been over.
“I do this for a living and I have a lot on my plate and I just thank my family and my coach for always pushing me to this point.”
– University running back Nick Brossette
– University running back Nick Brossette
“LSU is still home,” said Brossette who ranks as the country’s 15th best running back and Louisiana’s fourth best player according to recruiting website 247sports.com.
“I just want to see what else is out there.”
Holding scholarship offers from 13 schools, Brossette took an official visit to Notre Dame back in October and has plans to make visits to Texas and Arizona State in addition to LSU after the Under Armour game. He expects his final decision to come shortly after that.
“I just want to hear everybody talk and see what they have to say,” he explained. “I just want to see what is best for me and my family.”
Whichever school ultimately ends up with Brossette’s services will be adding a great asset to its backfield. Through all the time that Mahaffey has spent with Brossette at U-High, he knows that he will be special at the next level.
“Nick’s vision as a runner is pretty elite,” Mahaffey said. “He can see that next cut before it even opens up. As he gains more experience he is going to keep getting better and better.”
But right now, both Mahaffey and Brossette aren’t that worried about the future.
For the time being, they are too busy celebrating all that they’ve accomplished in the time that they have been together.
“I’ll have to adjust without him sure,” Mahaffey laughed. “But, I’m not worrying about that, just yet. We’re both going to enjoy this.”