2013 Yampa Valley Athlete of the Year
The spotlight was nothing new for Nic Paxton as he prepared for his senior year. Paxton jumped onto the Soroco stage as a sophomore, assuming playmaker roles on the Rams football and basketball teams.
Still, Paxton managed to shine in a unique way in his high school finale, in part because in all that experience as the center of attention, he learned to deflect some of it.
“He really matured so much, even from his junior season to his senior season,” said David Bruner, who coached Paxton in football and track.
“You don’t get to see that with a lot of kids,” Bruner said. “Nic really matured as a leader and as a person, and that’s what athletics is about.”
Paxton’s always been dynamite on the football field, and he was that again in his senior campaign, helping lead the squad to a strong start and a state ranking midway through the season.
Paxton accounted for 80 percent of the team’s touchdowns and finished almost scarily consistent between the run and the pass. With a trio of strong upperclassmen excelling as receivers, he racked up 823 yards and 14 touchdowns passing. He then had 833 yards and 13 touchdowns rushing.
When Soroco was at its best, Paxton was frighteningly effective. He didn’t have an incomplete pass in 21 attempts during Soroco’s first three wins of the season, racking up 12 touchdowns in that span. In those games, he also averaged 15.7 yards per carry, scoring another seven touchdowns.
He also drastically cut down on his turnovers for the second consecutive year, showing on the field that less is more at times.
“He was very elusive and never took many really hard shots,” Bruner said. “He made a lot of good decisions, and man, he was just a blast to coach. It was a privilege to coach him.”
Less turned out to be more for Paxton on the basketball court, too.
Soroco had its second-best basketball record in Paxton’s tenure, and that came as he had the lowest point output of his three years starting.
He scored 9.8 points per game, third on the team. A year ago, he was second on the team, scoring 15 points per game, and two years ago he led the team with 10.7 per game.
“Early in the season, he wasn’t even scoring much,” coach Jake Eskridge said. “He was maybe only scoring five points a game, but he was getting 10 to 12 assists per game and playing defense. Those were things he hadn’t ever wanted to do before, and he realized he had to do it. ... He came a long ways at Soroco. I was really pleased with him this year.”
Paxton still was there with big points when the team needed it, too.
He scored 20 in a February win against North Park and 19 three times, including in a grueling overtime loss on the road at West Grand.
“Nic kept us in that game,” Eskridge said about the West Grand game.
Finally, in track, Paxton again proved a leader in his senior season. After placing eighth at state in the long jump to wrap his junior season, he qualified for state in three events as a senior.