The Free Press, Mankato, MN


December 11, 2011

Mankato West's Philip Nelson named Mr. Football

ST. LOUIS PARK — Philip Nelson is the most decorated football player in Mankato West history, but the one trophy he wanted this year is one he didn’t get: a state championship.

“I’m not a guy who enjoys the individual awards,” he said. “All season, I’ve talked about winning because that’s all that mattered to me. All the other stuff is great, but the state championship is what I wanted.”

On Sunday, Nelson was named Mr. Football, an award given to the state’s top senior player by the Minnesota Football Coaches Association. It’s the third player of the year award for Nelson, who was also named the state’s best by The Associated Press and Gatorade.

“It’s a great honor that all the coaches thought I was good enough to win this award, but football is a team game,” Nelson said. “All those people that decide on those awards like what I’ve done this season, but I was very lucky to have my teammates and coaches. I couldn’t have done anything without them.”

Blue Earth Area tackle Jonah Pirsig was also one of the Mr. Football finalists, as were running back Beau Bofferding of Marshall, defensive tackle Jonathan Harden of Cretin-Derham Hall, quarterback Trey Heid of Lakeville North, running back Andrew Larson of Eden Prairie, receiver Andre McDonald of Hopkins, running back Sam Sura of South St. Paul and quarterback Tyler Vaughan of Braham.

“It wasn’t a surprise (that Nelson) won,” West coach Mark Esch said. “Statistically, he was head and shoulders above everybody else.”

This season, Nelson passed for 2,784 yards and 35 touchdowns, and he rushed for 1,243 yards and 20 touchdowns. In his career, he totaled 7,564 yards passing and 94 touchdowns, and his 135 touchdowns, rushing and passing, and more than 10,000 all-purpose yards are state records.

“Hopefully, the young players coming into our program see how hard he’s worked and want to work that hard,” Esch said.

Nelson will leave Dec. 29 to participate in a nationally televised all-star game in January at Phoenix, and he intends to sign with the University of Minnesota in February, though he plans to enroll there for spring semester so he can participate in the offseason football workouts.

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