"We've been on the same team since our freshman year in high school and we just built on that, and it came to what it is," said Nielsen. "He (Powell) was one of the better receivers we had. We just seemed to click."
Nielsen committed to the Warriors during the middle of summer, and Powell followed suit a few weeks later.
"I was on him to commit there when he got offered," said Nielsen. "I was telling the coaches, to get him. We've always said we were going to the same college together. So when he committed it was like a dream come true for us both."
For Nielsen, not being the biggest quarterback sometimes had its drawbacks. But his production on the field, which included a 4,000-yard junior season, couldn't be argued.
"Todd Riesing won the Orange Bowl last year, and Chase Daniel had an amazing season," said Nielsen. "I thought the small quarterback thing would end with Doug Flutie. But football players and quarterbacks come in all different shapes and sizes. All I can say is, you just pump in the film and you'll see. You can't let size tell the whole story. The numbers will."
Nielsen's pass-happy offense at Gahr is similar to the one the Warriors' run, which left a lasting impression on him.
"My grandma, who lives in Hawaii, taped all the games, so I watched Colt Brennan a lot. Hawaii has been my #1 school since I was in middle school, watching Timmy Chang do all the things he did and then watching Colt last year. I was all about Colt Brennan. He was pretty much my model and just watching what he does in that offense," said Nielsen.
Both Brennan and Nielsen had big seasons in 2007, but it was expected from Brennan. Not so much with Nielsen.
"At the beginning of my junior year, I just wanted to go out and have a couple of good games and get some film on me out. But then we ended up having the year we had. I can't really explain what happened, but I wasn't expecting to throw for over 4,000 yards," said Nielsen.
It was 4,363 yards to be exact, with 35 touchdown passes to five interceptions. Nielsen completed 65 percent of his throws and had five games where he threw for over 400 yards, including a 453-yard, six touchdown game in the opener. He would end the year earning San Gabriel Valley League MVP, leading Gahr to a 10-3 record and the CIF-SS Western Division semifinals.
"It's a little variation of the run-n-shoot, a multiple adjusting offense. Pretty much every play we run, our receivers have the option to run seven different routes. We're always watching film of teams who have ran it, to pick up on little things that they do well, that they don't well, and we always work on different routes," said Nielsen.
And Nielsen scoffs at those who call it an easy, gimmick offense.
"It's definitely complicated," said Nielsen. "It's not the West Coast Offense, but on any given play, we have to react to things differently. We might check into a different play here and there. But it's awesome. It's a quarterback's dream, throwing the ball 40-50 times a game."
Much of Nielsen's success can be traced back to the film sessions he had with his uncle Jon, who played quarterback in the AFL2, and ran the run-n-shoot in college himself.
"Without him, I don't know if we're able to do what we've done," said Nielsen. "With him, he's a big part of what we do. He helps put in the plays and he's a great coach."
With Hawaii being the most high-profile team running the run-n-shoot, Nielsen will get to see it in action. But even more exciting for him is leading it when he gets to Honolulu.
"I can't wait to get out there and being a part of that offense," said Nielsen. "But right now, it's all about Gahr Football."
Through five games, Nielsen has already thrown for 1,562 yards (312.4 a game) on 88-of-155 passing and thrown 18 touchdown passes. He's also rushed for 130 yards and three touchdowns.