Nubin takes game, and St. Charles North, to next level
The crowd gathered on the field was still coursing with electricity minutes after the greatest moment in St. Charles North football history.
Senior Tyler Nubin had just secured the North Stars' first trip to a state final by scoring his fourth touchdown of a 27-21 double-overtime victory over Mt. Carmel in a Class 7A semifinal.
After the teams shook hands and the North Stars celebrated with their fellow students, family, friends and fans encircled the team before the celebratory postgame talk.
Then the chant began.
"Nuuu-bin, Nuuu-bin, Nuuu-bin, Nuuu-bin."
The chorus grew.
Caught up in the moment, even some of the coaches joined in, St. Charles North coach Rob Pomazak said.
Rather than soak up the spotlight, the team captain rose to his feet and broadened the focus.
"S-C-N, S-C-N, S-C-N, S-C-N," Nubin repeated.
The crowd switched along with him, cheering the accomplishments of a team headed to its first state final rather than an individual, regardless of how instrumental that individual had been in getting them there.
"That's the perfect snippet of what kind of selfless leader Tyler is," Pomazak said. "He never really wants it to be about him. He honestly doesn't. He goes out and does what he does, but at the end of the day he's always very humble about it. He's hungry and he cares tremendously about his teammates. That's been him since seventh grade."
Such selfless leadership is part of the reason St. Charles North senior cornerback/receiver Tyler Nubin, a three-time academic all-conference recipient, has been named All-Area Team Captain of the 2018 Daily Herald Fox Valley All-Area Football Team.
The other part?
The son of Rodney and Sharese Nubin of South Elgin was a difference maker on both sides of the ball and led the North Stars to unprecedented postseason success.
Committed to Minnesota to play in the secondary, Nubin is a physical shutdown cornerback equally adept at stopping the run. He made 53 tackles (6 for loss) and broke up 6 passes. The 6-foot-3, 191-pound defender's mere presence dissuaded more attempts.
On offense, Nubin was a catalyst. Not only did the wide receiver make 42 catches for 649 yards and 9 touchdowns, he began rushing the ball on direct snaps out of the wildcat formation after starting quarterback Peyton Brown was lost to injury in Week 1. In all, he carried 109 times for 600 yards and 12 touchdowns.
In the semifinal victory over Mt. Carmel, Nubin ran out of the wildcat 25 times for 134 yards and 3 touchdowns, including the 10-yard rumble in the second overtime that completed the biggest win in school history. He also caught a 34-yard scoring pass in the first quarter.
Nubin led St. Charles North in rushing in the 31-10 title-game loss to Nazareth Academy, gaining 70 yards on 15 carries, yet he remained grounded throughout the historic postseason run, according to teammates.
"With all his success on the field, he doesn't let it get to his head or his leadership style or just the way he acts to everybody," said South Dakota State-bound lineman Alex Westendorf, Nubin's varsity teammate for three seasons. "You can go in that locker room and he's friends with everybody." Nubin worked hard on and off the field to arrive at this point. He joined the varsity in Week 8 of his freshman season but did not get in a game.
He saw the field plenty as a sophomore. He started at corner and nabbed 3 interceptions to go with 18 tackles. He didn't play much offense that season until the first round of the playoffs, when he made 4 catches for 41 yards and a touchdown in a 31-24 win over Carmel. That performance foreshadowed things to come.
Nubin became an offensive force as a junior with 47 receptions for 702 yards and 6 touchdowns. Defensively, he made 26 tackles, grabbed 2 more interceptions and forced a fumble.
Part of the key to his success is a natural talent for the game, the kind that allowed him to intuitively position his body between the ball and a Wheaton Warrenville South defender to make a leaping 31-yard touchdown catch that sealed a 21-10 quarterfinal victory.
"That was pretty crazy and at a crucial time," North sophomore running back Nick DeMarco said.
The other part is the hard work he put in to develop his natural talent. Nubin made the decision as a sophomore that he wanted to play Division-I football and has trained year-round since. He works out almost exclusively in the spring and summer with Bryce Biel of Legacy Sports Performance in St. Charles, he said. Nubin runs the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds, has a 36-inch vertical jump, benches 225 pounds and squats 360.
His hard work has netted recognition on a regional and statewide basis. He was named the DuKane Conference Offensive Player of the Year by league coaches and Class 7A all-state by the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association.
Most importantly, he helped the North Stars finish second in Class 7A, elevating to new heights a program that had previously appeared in one quarterfinal.
"For my money, he is the most valuable player in the state of Illinois because I don't think we'd be anywhere without him," Pomazak said. "I mean, we have some good kids -- don't get me wrong -- but Ty on a regular basis makes plays that win games for us. He's such a special kid. I don't think I'll ever coach another player quite like him."
When it was all over in Champaign last Saturday, Nubin reflected on the journey during the postgame news conference.
"This whole ride has been unbelievable," he said. "It's a senior season that I'm never going to forget."