TUCKAHOE, N.Y. – Tuckahoe High School football player Shyheim Nixon is no stranger to success.
He helped lead the Tigers’ basketball team to a state championship in March and started for the football team that won a Class D state title in his sophomore year.
But against familiar rival Haldane High School in the Section 1 Class D finals on Sunday, Nixon stepped into an unfamiliar role at quarterback and thrived.
Nixon earned offensive MVP honors in the Tigers’ win and finished 6-of-7 passing for 165 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for a touchdown and hauled in two interceptions on defense.
It seemed at times during the game as though Nixon had been playing quarterback for years. He owed part of his success to the week of preparation he put in before the title game.
“I just had to focus. My coaches asked me to take the job as QB. I’ll do whatever to win,” Nixon said. “I just had to focus, tell the team I got your back. I’m just here.”
His past successes also helped. The basketball team’s fantastic run to the state title taught Nixon to appreciate how easily a bad performance can change a season.
“Everybody can lose, you know?” Nixon said. “We just had to play hard.”
Nixon’s performance was all the more impressive considering the circumstances. The Tigers were undefeated when they faced Haldane, which was 0-4 at the time, earlier in the season. Tuckahoe was also coming off an emotional win against the defending Class C state champions, Dobbs Ferry.
Despite all that, the two teams played four regulation quarters and four overtime quarters and the game ended in a 27-27 tie.
Haldane also defeated Tuckahoe in the section finals last year. And as a senior, Nixon knew that a loss meant the end of his high school football career.
Still, he stayed calm and led the team to a 35-6 win in which the Tigers scored 21 points in the fourth quarter.
Now, Tuckahoe will face Section 9’s Chester High School in the regionals on Saturday at Dietz Stadium in Kingston, N.Y.. If Nixon plays like he did against Haldane, the Tigers could find themselves in Syracuse playing for a state title.
“We’ve got to keep this up. It was a big win for us,” Nixon said. “People said the game would be close. I’m just excited.”