Voorhees High School Wrestling

On a chilly overcast day in Matawan, Voorhees was up by only one touchdown in the fourth quarter of a state semi-final game.  Brian Tuma received a pitch from Eric Hall and everyone in the Voorhees stands held their breaths and wondered, “Is he going to break another long run?”  And just when everybody thought he was going to run it, he stopped, wound up, and through a strike to a wide open Jeff Franz for a sixty-yard, game-sealing touchdown pass.  In an instant, the Vikings were catapulted into the state finals with yet another big play from Brian Tuma.   Everyone in the stands was now wondering, “Is there anything this kid can’t do in a football game?”

Brian was as gifted of an athlete that ever graced the halls of Voorhees High School.  He possessed natural physical talent along with uncanny hand-eye coordination.  After spending hours in the weight room, the 6’3” running back and defensive back added strength, size, and speed to his athletic repertoire making him tough to catch, tough to stop, and tough to bring down.  However, what makes the memories of Brian Tuma racing down the sideline different from memories of any other Voorhees running back is the moments when he shined.  He was a “playmaker”; as former Head Football Coach Jerry Devisser remembers, “Tuma was a difference-maker, plain and simple.  He was somebody who always gave us a shot to win because he could make a big play at any moment from any spot on the field whether it was on offense, defense, or special teams.”

Brian amassed 9 varsity letters in four sports in his time at Voorhees; however, football and baseball were clearly where he achieved prominence.  He played centerfield for the Viking baseball team for four years and earned his varsity letter in each of those years.  His speed and ball skills made him an excellent outfielder and leadoff hitter, but by the time he was an upperclassman, he had added power to his hitting making him a lethal threat to opposing teams.  His senior year he led a talented Viking team in hitting with a .500 batting average.  Brian earned three varsity letters in football, starting on defense from the time he was a sophomore.  He amassed 29 touchdowns in his career on the Viking gridiron which is a school record.  Twenty of those touchdowns were scored his senior year when his big-play ability helped the 1995 Viking Football Team win the school’s first State Championship in that sport.  Brian continued his football career at Lafayette University where he earned four varsity letters, starting as a safety his sophomore and junior year and tailback his senior year.

It was as a senior on the football field where Coach Devisser witnessed Brian mature as an athlete.  While he would have been the featured back on many teams in the area, Brian was only considered one of the options in the Viking’s brand new wishbone attack that featured three other talented ball-carriers besides him.  Like most talented athletes, Brian had the urge to have the ball in his hands as much as possible, but he was able to put ego aside for the cause of winning football games, something that happened quite often that season.  However, despite only averaging eleven carries a game, Brian’s single-season rushing total of 942 yards ranks second on the all-time Viking single-season rushing list, and his 7.6 yards-per-carry average is a school record.  In the end, it didn’t matter how many times he had the ball in his hands because, as Coach Devisser put it, “he only needed it once to make something amazing happen.”