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Big-play player: Minnesota single-game rushing records

Yards Player Team Year 464 Alexander Robinson DeLaSalle 2005 461 Brian Day Brainerd 1996 459 DeAngelo Brackins International Falls 2006 439 Reza Mahmoud Champlin Park 2000 431 Bill Barrett Harmony 1966 423 Tyler Evans McLeod West 2001 411 Tyler E...

Yards Player Team Year

464 Alexander Robinson DeLaSalle 2005

461 Brian Day Brainerd 1996

459 DeAngelo Brackins International Falls 2006

439 Reza Mahmoud Champlin Park 2000

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431 Bill Barrett Harmony 1966

423 Tyler Evans McLeod West 2001

411 Tyler Evans McLeod West 2001

411 Jake Meixl Mankato Loyola 2001

410 Tim Weninger Simley 1975

409 Anthony Christensen Two Harbors 2004

409 David Price Braham 1997

406 Anthony Christensen Two Harbors 2005

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Following International Falls' 20-8 midseason loss to Ashland, Broncos coach Stuart Nordquist took DeAngelo Brackins aside and challenged him to play better before the high school football season slipped away.

Quite a heavy load for a 17-year-old to bear.

"He said, 'You've got to take the season on your shoulders and not let it go down the drain,''' Brackins recalled of the conversation. "I made up my mind to play harder."

Brackins, a 1,253-yard rusher in 2005, was held to 78 yards by the Oredockers as the Broncos fell to 2-2.

"I told him that I was very disappointed with his play against Ashland,'' Nordquist said. "I asked him, 'What intensity are you showing up with? You have to step up. You're a guy who can change the way our team is going.'

"He came in the next Monday and said, 'You're right, I'll pick it up.' I was astonished with the way he picked it up."

That might be an understatement. Brackins gained 1,585 yards during the next six games, including a 459-yard effort against East Grand Forks that left him 5 yards shy of a Minnesota single-game record.

"The momentum just kept rolling,'' Brackins said. "I felt like I was on a high.''

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The 5-foot-11, 205-pound senior finished with a school-record 2,131 yards on 269 carries (a 7.9-yard average) with 27 touchdowns and 260 total points (23.6 per game) in becoming the News Tribune's 2006 All-Area Player of the Year.

The numbers are eye-popping. After Brackins' amazing performance on the North Dakota border, which included six touchdowns and 42 total points, he rushed for 337 yards and scored 38 points against Cloquet, then put together a 168-yard, 50-point night in two-and-a-half quarters in a 78-8 playoff win over Virginia, followed by 286 yards and 36 points to beat Hermantown.

In that four-game span, he scored 22 touchdowns and averaged 41.5 points per game, helping the Broncos (7-4) reach the Section 7AAA title game.

"In football, speed kills,'' Hermantown coach Daryl Illikainen said. "He's certainly fast enough to be a big-play type of player. He got loose three times against us and scored three times. He's a big-play guy."

He also converted 31 2-point attempts, an astounding figure considering everyone on the field and in the stands knew who was getting the ball. The Broncos, who never attempted an extra point all season, made 71 percent of their 2-point conversions.

"'D' would tap me on the butt and tell me to let him run it,'' quarterback Josh Stougard said. "He's one of the best athletes that I've ever seen."

Brackins, who caught four touchdowns and averaged 30.8 yards a reception, also set a school record with a 91-yard scoring reception from Stougard. Those big plays became standard, one of the aspects that Brackins' father, Tim Myles, says will aid him at the collegiate level.

"If he gets [beyond the line of scrimmage], he can make a lot of people miss,'' said Myles, who coaches the Rainy River Community College football team in International Falls. "And his [offensive] line did a good job of getting him to that second level."

Myles was Brackins' coach at Floodwood High School during his son's sophomore season. Brackins rushed for nearly 1,000 yards that year before transferring when his father took the Rainy River job. Still, playing at the Class AAA level is a far cry from nine-man football.

"When he first came in, I remember talking to everyone and asking if they thought he could make the jump from nine-man to 3A football,'' Stougard said. "And he definitely did."

Brackins, who turns 18 today, says he has been contacted by Division I-AA universities North Dakota State and Northern Iowa, and several Division II schools, including Minnesota Duluth, Minnesota State-Mankato and North Dakota. Brackins says the latter, which is planning a move up to Division I-AA, is open to the idea of him playing football and basketball.

Brackins, who averaged 25.9 points a game in earning 2006 All-Area first-team honors in basketball, hasn't committed to one sport in college.

"I'm completely torn between the two. I want to play basketball and football,'' he said. "If you ever watch me play [basketball], I always have a smile on my face."

He left Broncos football fans smiling, too.

RICK WEEGMAN covers prep football for the News Tribune. He can be reached at (218) 723-5302, (800) 456-8181 or e-mailed at rweegman@duluthnews.com

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