Pantazis Sets School Record


The Niles West running back, Joseph Pantazis, getting ready to run a play.

By Daniel Navarro, Sports Editor

It’s first down on the 1-yard line for the Niles West Wolves; Wolves are down 51-14 in the 4th quarter with only eight minutes left on the clock. Senior quarterback Jack Leons calls for the ball to be snapped by sophomore center Logan Brandfellner and hands it off to sophomore running back Joseph Pantazis, who starts his run. Pantazis gets through the blocks after being tripped, gains his balance, squares his shoulders, and starts his dash to the end zone. Pantazis went on to run for 99 yards, crushing the previous high school record for longest touchdown.

“Finding spaces in football to run is a hard thing as a running back, but after I found that hole they couldn’t stop me. Being hit a couple of times going through the C gap was stressful knowing that I’d only have a two or three yard gain, but after I found my balance the rest seemed simplistic to me. I never looked back, with one foot going in front of one another hoping I wouldn’t get tripped up by a player on the secondary,” Pantazis stated.

Breaking a high school record was not originally what Pantazis was think about while running the play but was instead an unexpected outcome.

“Starting a run that’s close to our end zone can be difficult, trying to gain a couple yards and avoid the safety is always the biggest concern. With the deficit we were in, I knew I just needed to push through with my size. That’s what I did, head up, with one arm grasping the ball, and the other one finding that room to run. After that, I let my legs do the work.”

Pantazis ended up closing the scoring gap against Maine South and broke the school record for longest touchdown.

Leons, being amazed by Pantazis’s young age to do such a thing, was mesmerized himself.

“I think it was cool, especially since he was only a sophomore. I saw him spin out of a couple tackles and just tried to keep up with him while he was running down the field. It was also my last play ever on that field, so it was pretty cool to see him do that,”

Shattering the school record was not surprising to head coach Nick Torresso. Instead, breaking the record was something Torresso has been waiting for since meeting his sophomore running back.

“Anytime you break a record, it is an amazing accomplishment. In Joey’s case, it was not surprising. We see this from him everyday in practice. The kid has big play potential every time he touches the football. My reaction was a lot of yelling and trying to keep up down the sideline! Awesome to see his hard work pay off.” Torresso stated.