Like challenges, they come in all sizes and shapes.
The Sulphur Springs Wildcats accomplished a monumental achievement winning the Class 4A, Division II football title.
Now running back Ryan Young is ready for the real mountains - as in the Rocky Mountains which surround the United State States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Young officially signed to attend the USAF. He will first attend a year in a prep school, also located in that city. That year could count as a redshirt year, but will not restrict his eligibility.
Young, a 5-foot-7, 175-pound running back, was a key contributor to the Wildcats 14-2 season as he started all 16 games from the spread attack.
He played just one season for the Wildcats and made the most of it. He set records including an 8.3 yard per carry average; the most yards in a single season, 2,314; most touchdowns rushing, 28; most touchdowns combined rushing and receiving, 32 and most combined touchdowns, passing and receiving in one game, five.
His dad, Mark said that his son has more than 6,000 yards for his high school career after rushing for 1,800 yards per year while at Alba-Golden.
"I knew Ryan would be successful at Sulphur Springs," Mark Young said. "I did not know we'd win state, but I figured Ryan would have a good year."
"I don't know that much about the military. But from what I hear, once you graduate from the Air Force Academy you are set for life," Mark Young said of his son. "That was a big attraction for us, it's satisfying for us."
Mark Young admitted he had not thought much about his son playing college football until the opportunities, like Air Force, presented themselves following the state championship run.
"It was always a day-to-day thing of getting better each day. Now having a chance at college is like a big pay off, it's great. I hope Ryan has a great career in college. I will be there, like always watching his games."
"I think Ryan will fit in, Air Force is not afraid of short guys," Young said. "I'd be great if he went to the University of Texas or some big school like that. But the more research and homework I do on the process, I think Air Force is going to be a great place for Ryan. Good things happen to good people, there's good people at the Air Force."
His son did not talk much about his college choices, but did say he wanted to major in pre-med with the goal of being a dentist or orthodontist.
“Mountains” are what Ryan Young said impressed him the most during a recent trip to the service academy.
"This is exciting. Hopefully playing football in college is great," Ryan Young said. "The Air Force is a place to get an excellent education. It's really nice up there, much different from Texas. I met some coaches and my teammates. I just really liked it. I was the most comfortable being there than in my other visits."
Young said, "I’m running track, trying to get faster. I also want to get up to 180-pounds. Going to college is great, I just can't wait."
He was also considering offers from Tyler Junior College and Sam Houston State University.
Sulphur Springs head coach Greg Owens said, "Having Ryan this year has been great. It was fantastic for us as well as our offensive linemen allowing us to run the ball. We were able to be 50/50 this year and keep the defense on their heels.
"This is another great day for us, another benefit of winning state," Owens said. "A young man gets to continue his football career and gets it paid for by football. We achieved our team goals and the individual things took care of themselves. I am happy for all these kids. The Air Force is a special place... a beautiful campus and he gets to go play Division I football."
Owens said, "Graduating from the Air Force Academy carries a lot of weight and opens up doors for the rest of your life. It's a great opportunity for him."
Owens said Young will have to adjust to the speed of the game.
"It happens like that, it's an adjustment, linebackers can fly and it's a challenge," Owens said. "He’ll be fine."
SS offensive coordinator Jeff Riordan said, "Ryan was a big asset, a blessing. He’s a tough competitor and took our offense to a different level. He could dominate and control the game and we could run the clock out. He's an unbelievable kid, he's a great worker. I think Air Force got a steal. Some of the programs in Texas are missing out. His work ethic is unmatched.”
Mark and Lisa Young have made the trip to Colorado Springs and plotted the path from Texas to the mountains for future trips.
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