High school football: Orem’s Puka Nacua has blazed his own trail

OREM — In the age of the spread offense, it’s hard to believe that Richie Geertsen’s state record for receiving yards has held firm for 26 years.

The Logan receiver set the record with 1,769 yards back in 1989, and no one’s really come close to breaking it. Brighton’s Simi Fehoko came relatively close with 1,644 yards in 2014, but only one other receiver has come within 200 yards in the past two and a half decades.

That is until this year.

Orem receiver Puka Nacua heads into Friday’s 4A championship game with 1,616 receiving yards this season, which ranks third in state history. With a big game against Mountain Crest, he might dethrone Geertsen’s mark.

Nacua isn’t concerned with records heading into the big game at Rice-Eccles Stadium, and said the only number he’s focused on this week is, “one. Just one more win,” he said.

Nacua is closing in on the single-season receiving touchdowns record as well. He’s hauled in 23 TDs this year, one shy of the 24 that Fehoko grabbed in 2014.

Nacua had two touchdowns called back in last week’s semifinal win over Sky View because of penalties on the offensive line, but he still caught a second half TD to keep his streak alive of scoring in every game he’s played this season.

The junior missed two games with an injury earlier this season, which makes his year’s per-game average even more ridiculous.

“He’s definitely a kid I couldn’t live without,” said Orem coach Jeremy Hill.

How teams defend Nacua dictates how Orem’s offense attacks other teams.

“He’s going to get his whether he has one guy, two guys, three guys on him. But it’s nice because, if they press him, we kind of laugh, we check to a go, and 85 percent of the time he catches it for a big gain,” said Hill. “If they double him and triple him, we laugh too because I have some phenomenal tight ends and receivers that are now getting one-on-one matchups.”

Nacua’s appearance in Friday’s championship game will continue the tradition of Nacuas playing for state championships. In every high school football season from 2011 to 2015, one of Nacua’s older brothers played for a state championship — including two in the 2012 Nevada state championship, in which Kai Nacua’s Liberty team lost to Isaiah Nacua’s Bishop Gorman team.

Six months before that brotherly showdown, their father, Lionel Nacua, died unexpectedly at 45.

His death prompted a family …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News


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