WENATCHEE — Wenatchee senior running back Nathan Blauman is having a spectacular season for the Panthers. He’s leading the league in rushing and is a big reason why the Panthers are in a position to win the Big 9 championship.
The speedy Blauman has not always been a running back. He was a wide receiver before becoming a running back. He was a quarterback when he started high school.
“I played that to my freshman year. We went undefeated and I had 38 touchdowns and two picks. We did really well. I was going to play it in my sophomore year, but I was going through a hard time, just personally with a lot of things,” Blauman said. “I was discouraged and I didn’t know the plays when I started spring practice. I was having a hard time so I decided to switch back to running back.”
Panther Head Coach Scott Devereaux remembers Blauman as a quarterback. He was athletic. He would drop back and if he didn’t like what he saw, he would take off.
“He was very good at scrambling. Just an athlete. As far as reading defenses, I don’t think that was happening. We ran a lot of bootlegs and rollouts because he was such an athlete. If he could run it for 20, he would,” Devereaux said.
Blauman describes himself as a north-south runner. He likes to hit the hole and go, but it wasn’t always that way.
“When he was a sophomore, it was hard to direct him to go to the hole. He wanted to take it outside like he did freshman year. In high school, you have to run where the linemen are. His challenge sophomore year was getting him to trust the line, press the hole before you make a cut,” Devereaux said.
Things have really clicked for Blauman the past couple of seasons. He was a first-team, all Big 9 running back as a junior and is sure to be on the first team again and perhaps earn league MVP honors.
He’s helped lead Wenatchee to a 7-2 record, 5-0 in the Big 9 and is really enjoying his senior season.
“It’s been really nice to play with this group of guys, seeing everyone develop into the group we are now. It took a couple of years. The classes we had above us was not a very good culture,” Blauman said. “I think my team’s leadership and the juniors really want to take that up a notch to make it more like a team, not individual. That’s really helped.”
Blauman currently sits atop the Big 9 with 1,239 yards. He has his eye on the single-season rushing record at WHS currently held by Jacob Sealy. Sealy rushed for 1,732 yards in 2009. It was a season that included two playoff games.
The single-season touchdown record is 20. He currently has 19.
Devereaux said Blauman has been a huge part of their success this season.
“He breaks so many tackles, makes guys miss. Doesn’t drop the ball on the ground. He’s had a couple hundred yards receiving too, which doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. He has great hands out of the backfield,” Devereaux said. “He’s a complete high school running back. He runs with power, runs hard. Thinks he’s going to score every play. That’s the right mindset.”
The big crosstown rivalry game with Eastmont is coming up this Thursday. Just like last year, the two teams will be playing for the Big 9 title. Blauman is expecting smash mouth football.
He thinks will be a hard-fought football game on both sides of the ball.
“I’ve been keeping my eye on this game the whole year getting ready for it. I’m super excited about the game. There will be some big plays that happen. Both defenses will pick it up. I’m excited to see how their offense does, especially their running back Carson Talley,” Blauman said.
Talley is right behind Blauman for rushing yards in the Big 9 with 1,103.
He comes from a big family with four older brothers, two older sisters, and one younger sister. Blauman credits his older brothers with helping him improve as a ballplayer. They are his biggest fans.
“They are my biggest support along with my parents. They always tell me the little things to fix or do better, but they always encourage me,” Blauman said.
Devereaux said his teammates love him.
“He’s been a team captain for two years. The kids like him because he’s a big goofy kid but when it’s practice time and game time, he’s serious. He plays hard. I think his teammates appreciate that,” Devereaux said. “One thing with Nate, he always goes hard. At practice, he runs extremely hard. Even versus air with no defense on the field, he’ll run the ball full speed and go 25-30 yards downfield.”
Blauman does want to play college football. He’s doing the recruiting stuff now, not really knowing much about the process. He’s really interested in playing at WSU, maybe walking on there.
“I talked to one of their (WSU) coaches. He said they had two running backs (recruited), but would be interested in having me walk on. I thought that would be an awesome fit. There are other schools like Central, Eastern,” Blauman said.