Inquirer Sports Editor
In 144 years, tens of thousands college football games have been played. Nobody has rushed for more yards in any of them than 2010 Galion High School graduate Cartel Brooks.
Cartel — a junior tailback at Division III Heidelberg University in Tiffin — set a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) single-game record for rushing yards in all divisions on Saturday when he tore through the Baldwin Wallace defense for an eye-popping 465 stripes on 38 carries, breaking the previous mark of 455 set three weeks ago by Octavias McKoy of Western Connecticut — also Division III — in a game against Worcester State.
Cartel had touchdown runs of 81, 41 and 13 yards in Heidelberg’s 42-14 win over the rival Yellow Jackets on Tressel Field in Berea. With the national record his, he sat out the final three minutes of the game.
“It’s a little overwhelming,” responded Cartel when asked what it has been like seeing video footage of himself on ESPN, being acknowledged nationally on the front page of Yahoo, and being recognized by College Football Live’s Lou Holtz and Mark May. “I was shocked to find out I ran for that many yards. Need to give credit where credit is due. The offensive line did a great job and so did our receivers. The holes were definitely bigger,” he added with a hint of a laugh.
Soft-spoken, humble and hard-working, Cartel said the important thing about the game against Baldwin Wallace was the victory itself. “I just wanted a win, especially for our seniors. This team is like a big brotherhood.”
For the second year in a row, Cartel led the 10-team Ohio Athletic Conference in rushing yards and touchdowns. A Second Team D3 All-American a year ago as a sophomore, he amassed a Heidelberg record 1,704 yards on the ground via 207 carries this season for the 8-2 Student Princes. Cartel averaged 8.2 yards per carry and scored a conference-best 25 six-pointers. With another year to go, he is already Heidelberg’s career leader in rushing touchdowns, and is zeroing in on the school’s career marks for rushing yards and overall touchdowns.
The personal numbers aren’t what drive him, though.
“Every game, I want to play better than the one before,” he said. “What’s important are the wins. I want to do what I can to help us win. I always try to do better than I did the year before. If you aren’t getting better, you’re getting worse.”
Saturday’s performance shattered his own school mark for yards in a game. The previous standard was 337 a month ago against Otterbein. It also bettered a 17-year-old OAC single-game mark of 441 stripes by Marietta’s Dante Brown.
Asked if he was a little more sore Sunday than he usually is after a game, Cartel laughed and answered, “I was pretty banged up from that game, but nothing serious. Just some bumps and bruises.”
Also a records-setting tailback during his prep days at GHS, Cartel said, “I love having the support from the people in Galion, friends and family. It’s kind of nice putting your town on the map.”
Does he give much thought to the possibility that he could have played Division II or even Division I college football? Cartel unhesitatingly responded, “I wouldn’t trade playing here for the world. Everything happens for a reason. I’ve got great teammates and coaches. I’m happy here.”
After making the playoffs in 2012, losses to nationally-ranked Mount Union and John Carroll cost the Student Princes a spot in the tournament this year. Cartel is philosophical about it. “I’m pretty sure we’ll have the same goals for next season. We can’t dwell on the two losses this year. We need to focus on getting better.”