Galileo High School senior quarterback Kyle Nelson has made it no secret that Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel is his favorite player to watch.
With a stature similar to Manziel's, Nelson has dizzied defenses all season long with his scrambling and pinpoint accuracy.
Lowell (5-5, 4-3) was the latest team left befuddled by Nelson and Galileo's no-huddle spread offense.
Nelson was nearly perfect against the Cardinals on Friday afternoon, finishing 17-for-18 for 355 yards and four touchdowns, while adding another 69 yards rushing and another touchdown, helping Galileo overwhelm host Lowell 57-30 in Academic Athletic Association play.
Nelson's touchdown passes went for 63, 7, 46 and 84 yards as Galileo clinched its first outright AAA regular season title since 2001.
“Wow,” said Nelson, whose one incompletion came on a dropped pass. “It's been a goal to be perfect in a game this season. Hopefully, I have two more games to do it. I just keep giving myself challenges to get better every week.”
With 4:33 left in the first quarter and the Lions clinging to a 14-8 lead, Nelson gave his best impersonation of Manziel. Nelson dropped back to pass, only to see three defenders in his face. He ducked under all of them before scampering and diving his way into the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown, giving Galileo a 14-8 lead.
“I really don't know what happened. I dropped back and my offensive line missed their chop blocks, so I started running and thought I could get the edge,” Nelson said. “Lowell's defensive ends do a great job, so I just ducked under, saw green grass and just made a play.”
Although Nelson had the most impressive stats of the day, the play of the day came on the last play of the first half.
Trailing 35-22 with 13 seconds left in the first half, Lowell was at the Galileo 12-yard line. Cardinals junior quarterback Antonio Hughes threw a pass intended for tight end Kolani Uini, but it was intercepted by safety Rodney Morgan, who returned the pick 102 yards for a Galileo touchdown, giving the Lions a commanding lead.
“That was a back-breaker,” said Lowell coach Denny Chan. “Antonio Hughes is a young guy and he threw it late, but it's something to learn from. This experience will be good for them.”
Galileo (10-1, 7-0) put an exclamation mark on the game four minutes into the fourth quarter, as Nelson scrambled and found his outlet in running back Lala Haro over the middle. Haro, who finished with 88 yards rushing and 101 receiving, broke a tackle and followed a convoy of Lions down the sideline for an 84-yard touchdown, giving Galileo a 57-22 lead.
Galileo coach Mark Huynh emphasized afterward how he only makes suggestions to Nelson, and sits back and lets him call the offense.
“For a quarterback to put up those numbers, it's pretty good,” Huynh said. “For a quarterback to put up those numbers and call the offense? That is amazing to me. It's pretty special.”
Lowell, which did have success running the ball as it rushed for 323 yards, including a team-high 97 yards from senior Dillon Easterling, will get another crack at Galileo next week for a berth in the Turkey Bowl.
Chan knows it'll be tough, especially with the way Nelson and the Lions offense is clicking.
“”Nelson has total control of that offense, and it's been amazing to see him mature like he has,” Chan said. “”We'll try to mix some things up, and we'll have to adjust. We'll like to see them punt sometime.”