Area Male Athlete: PL's Tappe a touchdown machine
Imagine hearing that while holding a football with 11 angry opponents striving to bring you to the ground.
Just be patient.
With speed that helped a 4x100 relay team to the Class 1A state meet last season, Tyler Tappe’s instincts are to get the ball and run as fast as he can to the end zone.
So the phrase “be patient” took a while to connect with the junior tailback, wide receiver and defensive back for the Pequot Lakes Patriots.
But when patience, plus blocking work in harmony, it turns into 180 yards and three touchdowns on just 12 carries. That’s what Tappe accumulated during Pequot’s 38-6 season-opening victory over the Staples-Motley Cardinals Aug. 30.
“What it means is I need to follow my lead blocker and stay on his butt and see where the blocks are going to be,” said Tappe. “I need to be patient and wait for things to develop and then run off of that. You need patience, but as soon as that hole opens up you have to get going. You can’t hesitate. Once you see a hole you have to take it.”
Tappe scored on runs of 6, 35 and 78 yards. He also caught two passes for 57 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Jordan Redmond.
“We worked him a little bit because he was a little too aggressive running with the ball,” said Pequot head coach Chip Lohmiller. “We needed him to wait for his blockers. Once he figured that out and slowed down a bit he just took off and that was great.
“One of his touchdowns, he waited for his blockers, found the hole and then he was gone. He’s learning the situations where he has to have patience and the times when he just needs to hit the hole right away and run as fast as he can. But when we’re running outside he knows that he needs to wait for his pulling guard or fullback to make the hole and then he needs to hit it.”
Tappe, who has also advanced to the state track and field meet as a pole vaulter, possesses good speed and admits he’s a north-south type of runner. Unlike Patriots’ backs of the past, Tappe isn’t the biggest guy. So finding open space to use his speed is important.
“He’s not a power runner, he’s more of a finesse speed guy, but he’s only a junior,” said Lohmiller. “If he keeps running like he did Thursday he’ll put up some numbers.
“He’s not going to get those big runs up the middle. Where he excels, he’s probably faster than any of those backs we’ve had in the past. Plus, he does have good vision.”
Pequot will split Tappe out as a wide receiver to give him even more space to use his speed. They run him in motion to create separation from the defense.
“Playing wide receiver is a little easier because all you do is catch the ball and you already have an open field,” Tappe said. “I don’t dance around too much. I like to run in a straight line.
“This year, being a running back it’s going to be fun. I have a big fullback and a pretty good-sized line. It’s one of the best lines we’ve seen in Pequot. So this season, I’m just going to do what I can to help the offense.”
Tappe plays defense too, but doesn’t have a true home yet. He’s played corner, free safety, strong safety and even outside linebacker. That versatility and his athleticism gives the Patriots’ coaching staff options.
“He’s a great kid and a great athlete,” said Lohmiller. “He plays basketball, too, and like everything, he’s only going to get better.”
Other notable performances:
Football: Tyler Tappe, Pequot Lakes, rushed for 171 yards and four touchdowns on 12 carries against Staples-Motley.
Beau Howard, Pine River-Backus, threw for 234 yards and rushed for another score against Fosston.
Brandon Mager, Pine River-Backus, caught five passes for 114 yards against Fosston.
Dillon Card, Verndale, rushed for 171 yards and three touchdowns against Hancock.
Dakota Finck, Verndale, rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown against Hancock.
Tyler Millner, Pierz, rushed for 124 yards against Melrose.
Nathan Athman, Pierz, rushed for 80 yards and two touchdowns against Melrose.
Josh Lanners, Pierz, caught two passes for 49 yards and rushed for two touchdowns against Melrose.
Dylan Wasserzieher, Crosby-Ironton, rushed for 108 yards and two touchdowns against Mesabi East.
Jacob Leonhardt, Crosby-Ironton, finished 8-of-9 passing for 123 yards and two touchdowns against Mesabi East.
Daniel Hudrlik, Crosby-Ironton, caught two touchdown passes and intercepted two passes returning one for a touchdown against Mesabi East.
Dean Lynn, Aitkin, scored two touchdowns against East Central.
Evan VanErp, Wadena-Deer Creek, rushed for 152 yards and three touchdowns and threw for 32 yards against East Central.
Jacob Krause, Wadena-Deer Creek, rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown against East Central.