Nathan Tomala bid farewell to the Pierz High School football field in fine fashion.
The senior fullback for Class 2A’s seventh-ranked Pioneers rushed for 119 yards and three touchdowns in Pierz’s 20-0 Section 6-2A semifinal victory over the Holdingford Huskers Oct. 29.
It was the second time in 10 days the two Central Minnesota Conference foes battled on the football field. In the first meeting, Pierz beat Holdingford 30-16.
“It was a really tough game,” said Tomala. “They came back trying to take us out. They really wanted it that second game. You could tell.
“They were slanting off tackle and that left the middle of the field wide open. They were keying on the off-tackle run. We made the adjustment during the game. We weren’t planning on me running that much.
“Actually before the game my coaches told me I had to have the game of my life as far as blocking. They (coaches) knew Holdingford was going to key on our off tackle. Then they decided to give me the ball and we were getting eight yards a carry. So they just kept giving me the ball.”
All three of Tomala’s touchdowns were one yard in length, but the senior’s biggest play of the game may have come on defense. The two-year starting defensive end intercepted a screen pass that shifted the momentum in Pierz’s favor.
“Before the season started (assistant coach Rick) Sczublewski said ‘Don’t throw any balls to Tomala,’” Pierz head coach Leo Pohlkamp said with a laugh. “But there he was making a nice interception. He’s caught a few balls so it’s kind of a joke.
“Nathan likes to show those other coaches he can catch the ball. During practice after he makes a catch he always comes back to the huddle with a smile on his face.”
Pohlkamp called Tomala’s Oct. 29 game the best of the senior’s career. He added a sack on the defensive end, but it was Tomala’s offensive exploits that advanced Pierz to the section final.
“He’s quick,” Pohlkamp said. “He’s a wrestler. He’s about 165 or 170 pounds and he’s playing fullback. I don’t know what it’s like to have a big fullback, but he hits the holes hard and he’s willing to run and lower his pads and push the pile.
“He was voted a team captain. He’s a leader of the team and he’s elevated his game. He’s pretty intense and he comes to play every game and that rubs off on the other kids. We’ll need another game from him on Friday afternoon (Pierz played Sauk Centre at 5:30 p.m. Friday in the Section 6-2A final at the Fargodome).
In the Pioneers’ 47-7 section quarterfinal win over Wadena-Deer Creek Oct. 25, Tomala rushed for 27 yards, including a 6-yard TD, on six carries.
During Pierz’s first victory over Holdingford, Tomala again scored a 1-yard TD and finished with 50 yards on eight carries. But Tomala will always remember his final home game in Pierz.
“It was a good feeling having that game be my last as a Pioneer at home,” he said.
Other notable performances:
Football: Dylan Wasserzieher, Crosby-Ironton, rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown against Aitkin.
Spencer Fenske, Little Falls, threw for 252 yards and three touchdowns against Sartell.
Josh Wenzel, Little Falls, caught five passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns against Sartell.
Logan Meyer, Wadena-Deer Creek, rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown against Pierz.
Travis Richards, Pillager rushed for 199 yards and two touchdowns against Pine River-Backus. He added 43 yards and a touchdown against Browerville.
Logan Lange, Pequot Lakes, rushed for 123 yards and a touchdown and caught two more TDs against Thief River Falls.
Nolan Michaelson, Pequot Lakes, rushed for 169 yards and a touchdown against Thief River Falls.
Soccer: Patrick Trout, Lake Region, finished with two goals and two assists against Fourth Baptist and added another goal against Rosemount in the MACS state tournament.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5856.