Running back Royce Freeman of Imperial scores on a 9-yard run Friday against Calexico while raising his career rushing total to 6,778 yards.
IMPERIAL — Rare is the case when the public address announcer begs the band to stop playing after the home team scores a touchdown.
Consider this a special occasion.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Willie Estes bellowed, “you have just witnessed history. Royce Freeman has just set the all-time rushing record in the San Diego Section.”
Out of a full-house backfield, quarterback Chris Carter faked an inside handoff and pitched right to Freeman, who broke three tackles and bulled into the end zone to eclipse the record of 6,694 yards set by Escondido’s Ricky Seale from 2006-09.
Freeman added a 64-yard TD and finished with 135 yards on 11 carries (all in the first half) to give him 6,778 over 37 varsity games, an average of 183 per game and 12.6 per touch. With 1,996 yards this season, he is just shy of his third 2,000-yard campaign.
The Imperial Valley League game — won easily by Imperial, 49-14, over Calexico on Friday night — was halted for a 5-minute celebration after Freeman’s first-quarter score.
Freeman, also a three-time league MVP in basketball, was presented a plaque by the Imperial Union School District, and then he got the microphone.
“First, I want to thank God,” said Freeman, surrounded by his mother, Sheila, and father, Roy, an assistant coach for the Tigers. “I want to thank my family. I want to thank my offensive line. I also want to thank the Imperial community for all your support.”
Imperial (8-0, 3-0) also got four TD passes from Carter to rout the Bulldogs (3-5, 0-3).
“I’m very fortunate and very blessed to be the football coach at Imperial right now,” Kerry Legarra said. “It’s not only the gifts Royce brings, it’s the kind of passion he has. He’s just a remarkable young man.
“He’s very, very mature for as young as he is, and he’s extremely humble. I’ve been doing this for 33 years, and he’s the best I’ve ever been associated with.”
Considering the section has been home to talents such as Marcus Allen, Reggie Bush, Ricky Williams, Terrell Davis and Rashaan Salaam, the accomplishment is extra special to Freeman.
“It’s amazing,” said Freeman, who has committed to Oregon. “There’s no better company.”
A “Yes, sir! No, sir!”-type of guy who was raised by a military father and a mother who works for Imperial Valley College, Freeman added: “I feel very blessed and humbled to have this opportunity.”
FOR THE RECORD
San Diego Section career rushing leaders:
Total / Player / School / Years
6,778 / Royce Freeman / Imperial / 2010-2013
6,694 / Ricky Seale / Escondido / 2006-2009
5,650 / Demetrius Sumler / USDHS-Ca thedral / 2002-2005
5,547 / Tyler Gaffney / Cathedral / 2006-2008
5,539 / Dillon Baxter / Mission Bay / 2006-2009
5,397 / Justin Green / USDHS / 1997-1999
5,158 / Markeith Ross / RBV / 1988-1990
5,112 / Lawrence Walker / Christian / 2004-2007
5,039 / Patrick Gates / Marian / 2000-2003
Royce Freeman’s rushing numbers:
Year / G / Att. / Yards / TD / Long
2010 / 5 / 26 / 225 / 1 / 62
2011 / 12 / 162 / 2,075 / 35 / 78
2012 / 12 / 201 / 2,482 / 34 / 94
2013 / 8 / 151 / 1,996 / 32 / 94
Totals / 37 / 540 / 6,778 / 102 / 94
* San Diego Section Leader