ST. AMANT, LA (WAFB) - St. Amant junior running back Cade Nelson made the most of his first start for the Gators Friday night, rushing 34 times for 234 yards and three touchdowns in a 36-34 victory at Lutcher that earned him Sportsline Player of the Week.
"Because of the flooding and all that, we didn't even know if we were going to have a season," said Nelson, reflecting on what the Gators have been through the last six weeks.
Nelson was promoted to start in the St. Amant backfield when Mark Darby went down with a season-ending injury in the Higgins game the week before. He said he was nervous and felt pressured to come through for the team in his new role.
"I've been doing a lot of stuff I've never done before, never thought of doing," said Nelson, who received ice treatments during the game and admitted he was exhausted after his busy night.
He also took all the first-team reps in practice during the week, with Darby no longer there to share them. Nelson said Darby prayed with him right before the game and encouraged him throughout the night.
Head coach David Oliver said he had complete confidence in putting the ball in Nelson's hands and he was a great example to his teammates as a guy who worked to be prepared when called upon.
"He was ready. He got the call and he really responded. He was spectacular Friday night," said Oliver, whose team is off to a 3-0 start.
Nelson also caught two passes for 15 yards and totaled 249 all-purpose yards in his starting debut.
"We had 530 yards and 35 first downs. We needed every inch, every last inch. He chipped in 250 of that one way or another," Oliver said of his 5-foot-8, 165-pound running back who only played special teams and sparingly at safety as a sophomore.
Nelson, whose last touchdown was the game-winner in the final minute, said he really wanted to come through for the 34 seniors on this year's team.
"I felt like I had something to prove I guess. Maybe some people didn't think I'm that good. It's pretty crazy to have a lot of adversity to come back from, and everybody on our team has a strong will and high expectations for the season."