Quarterback Nathaniel Holcomb has been on a tear this season for the Puyallup High football team, and the state’s leading passer now stands alone atop the Puyallup record book after Friday night’s performance.
Holcomb (22 of 46) threw for 286 yards and a touchdown in Puyallup’s 42-7 loss to third-place Olympia, becoming the second player to cross the 3,000-yard mark in a season.
“Honestly, it feels good to have that one (record),” said Holcomb, who has thrown for 3,016 yards this season.
Holcomb broke Brendan Illies’ record of 3,000 yards, which Illies set in 2012 as a sophomore. Holcomb’s touchdown to Darius Morrison was the senior quarterback’s 38th passing touchdown on the season, which tied him with Illiesfor the second-most touchdown passes in a season. He is one off of Luke Huard’s record of 39, set in 1998.
“I think I’ve worked hard for this. I like to keep myself humble, but I think I deserve it,” said Holcomb, who replaced Illies at quarterback in 2014. “Just the work I put in during the offseason over the last couple of years. How I accomplished that, it feels pretty good from a personal standpoint.”
Holcomb set the yards record throwing to his favorite target, best friend Noah McFadden, who picked up just enough to eclipse Illies’ record.
“As two best friends, that’s something you dream of,” said McFadden on catching Holcomb’s record-setting pass.
It’s been an incredible season for Holcomb, one he predicted his offense was capable of with the receiving talent of Morrison, Tallon Yerbury, McFadden and Landon Neff.
“He’s been great at reading the play and knowing who to throw it to and when,” Yerbury said.
But with all the records and all the stats, that’s not who Holcomb is as a competitor.
Every loss that Puyallup has suffered this season, Holcomb has shouldered the blame knowing that if one more accurate throw was made here, or a better decision made there could be the differences of a win and a loss. Friday’s loss to Olympia (6-2) was especially painful, as it dropped Puyallup (4-4, 3-4) out of a tie for the final playoff spot with Emerald Ridge (4-5, 3-4), which won on Friday and already owns the tiebreaker with the Vikings.
“I could have been more accurate tonight, giving my guys better chances. That was on me,” Holcomb said.
Puyallup had the win in hand against Emerald Ridge in the second week of the season, but defensive end Chase McGuire’s interception return of a Holcomb pass in the final seconds was the difference.
That play has hung over Holcomb all season.
Even with all the accolades, all the accomplishments over Holcomb’s senior season, the playoffs have eluded him his entire career. It’s all he’s ever dreamed about since dawning the Viking purple.
“He would rather erase all those stats to pick up the win,” Puyallup coach Gary Jeffers said. “He would rather have a win and get the chance to play playoff football.”
It’s the one play that could define his senior season as Puyallup faces a must-win game against fourth-place Bellarmine Prep (5-3, 4-3) on Friday (Oct. 28). If it rains, the mud pit of a field the Lions call home will make it harder for Holcomb to get going and potentially set the touchdown mark.
But he’s not concerned about that right now. If his Vikings can walk away with the win, then the season would have really been a real success.
“To get my guys into the playoffs,” Holcomb said. “That’s all I’m concerned with. I want the records, but I want the win more.”