Nico Iamaleava slammed his helmet towards the locker room door with a yell, the journey instantly over 24 yards brief in a playoff loss.
Simply half an hour later, it had sunk in for senior five-star quarterback Nico Iamaleava, nonetheless conserving a barely dejected smile on his face and posing for footage with stragglers that hung round within the Chatsworth chill. His time at Warren Excessive was via, the Bears having misplaced Friday evening’s Division 2 playoff matchup with Sierra Canyon 22-21, a Tom Brady-esque late-game drive by Iamaleava not sufficient and a game-winning subject purpose falling a foot brief.
“I went through it,” Iamaleava mentioned, leaving the stadium an hour after the sport. “My dad was right here — just seeing how emotional I was. But I’ve accepted it … it’s a nasty feeling.”
Since committing in March to Tennessee — signing a reputation, picture and likeness take care of a college booster collective rumored to be price $8 million — Iamaleava has been a recruiter and a promoter for this system, garnering a big platform on social media together with his pajama-wearing appearances at 7-on-7 passing tournaments.
The deal has drawn eyes at any time when he’s stepped on a subject — Malcolm Smith, a former USC linebacker and Tremendous Bowl MVP with the Seattle Seahawks, was on the sidelines Friday partly to see the child for himself — and drawn voices as distinguished as faculty soccer analyst Kirk Herbstreit to weigh in on Iamaleava’s dedication.
But after a back-and-forth summer time throughout which he transferred to Lengthy Seashore Poly solely to come back again to Warren, the headlines have quieted, the 6-foot-6 blue-chipper merely targeted on his final yr of highschool ball. After a 9-1 season and 24 landing passes, this isn’t fairly the experience into an Volunteer-orange sundown he envisioned.
“It stings … this loss definitely puts a little bit more feeling in me, and getting ready to go with the season for Tennessee,” Iamaleava mentioned. “I’m going to just use it as fuel down the road.”
All through the primary half, as Sierra Canyon took a 14-7 lead over Warren, the stands pulsed with jeers as an ice-cold Iamaleava couldn’t get something going towards the Trailblazers’ protection.
“Wear your pajamas!” they hollered.
“O-ver-rated!” they crowed.
Iamaleava and Warren started shifting the soccer towards the top of the primary half, orchestrating a landing drive, and fully silenced the Trailblazer followers within the third quarter. With third-down odds stacked towards him, he reached deep into his bag of methods: spinning away to fireside a dart to brother Madden, changing a third-and-13 play with a laser to Jordan Ross, discovering Ross once more for a brief landing and working in a conversion to provide Warren a 21-14 lead.
With simply greater than a minute left after Sierra Canyon took the lead, it appeared as if Iamaleava would pull one other rabbit out of the hat, wheeling and dealing and main the Bears all the way down to the 19-yard-line — just for a delay of sport to push again a game-winning field-goal attempt 5 yards, which fell brief as time expired.
After the frustration subsided, the bitter style remained. So Tennessee followers, prepare.
“I’m ready to work, man,” Iamaleava mentioned. “Can’t wait.”