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Senior captain Ryan Santos recently turned in a strong showing in his first game starting at quarterback for the Valley Regional-Old Lyme football squad. Last spring, Ryan helped his 4x100 relay quartet break a school record during the outdoor track season. (Photo courtesy of Ryan Santos )
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Ryan Santos is proving a quality athlete in a multitude of capacities at Valley Regional High School. Ryan was named a senior captain for the Valley-Old Lyme football team this fall and made his first start at quarterback when the Warriors posted a 42-6 victory versus Ellington last week. Ryan completed all four of his passes with a touchdown to go with two rushing touchdowns in the team’s season-opening win. He also plays basketball at Valley and is a sprinter on the boys’ outdoor track team.
In addition to starting at QB, Ryan has the ability to play all over the field on both offense and defense. Prior to this season, Ryan was a receiver and also saw time running the ball. While Ryan has always thought of himself as a receiver, he’s ready to take the snaps for the Warriors in 2018.
“I was a backup quarterback last year, and I played there in JV, freshman and sophomore years. The coaches donned it upon me, and I just accepted their request,” Ryan says. “I definitely feel that my strength is that I can break out of the pocket and run whenever I need to, but I also think I am capable of keeping my eyes downfield to see the receivers.”
Along with his new role as a quarterback, Ryan is also adapting to his new leadership role as a senior captain. Ryan knows there are many responsibilities that come with a captain’s hat. He believes his biggest responsibility is keeping his team focused and everyone on the same page. This way, the Warriors can concentrate on improving as the year goes on and then hit their peak at the right time of the season.
“For me, it just means being there for my teammates and doing whatever I need to do to make us better,” Ryan says. “We don’t have that many distractions, but we have to make sure we’re all together as a team and no one is on their own island.”
Even though Ryan is starting at quarterback, he still anticipates getting some time at the receiver position this year. The senior captain possesses tremendous speed and, after he makes his move, it’s tough for defenders to catch up to him. Ryan knows that’s a valuable asset to have on offense.
“I think I will be seeing some reps at receiver throughout the season. I think I can be explosive at both positions,” says Ryan, who lives in Chester. “I try to get the defender on their heels. I usually try to make a quick jab left or right and get to my route as fast as possible.”
Ryan isn’t the only athlete on the Warriors who has speed to burn. Last spring, Ryan, fellow football teammates Nick Braga and Jason O’Brien, and Andrew Ferguson made school history when they finished with a school-record time of 43.96 seconds in the 4x100 relay at the Class M State Championship.
“There are a lot of football guys who go out for track, and it helps us stay in shape for the season. I run the 4x100-meter relay and the 100-meter dash. It definitely helps with the explosiveness off the line and know that you can reach your top speed at a certain point and maintain it,” Ryan says. “One of my biggest achievements was probably when our 4x100 team consisted of three football players, and we were able to break a school record. We’re pretty quick.”
Warriors’ Head Coach Tim King has seen Ryan perform well on both the gridiron and the track. King feels that Ryan’s athletic ability and relentless effort will prove hugely beneficial to Valley Regional this fall.
“Ryan’s just a great athlete and one of the most coachable young men you can ask for,” King says. “He’s got the toughness with the ball in his hands. You know he’s going to give you 110 percent on every play.”
Right now, Ryan is focused on playing the best football he can in order to help the Warriors have another great year. After high school, he hopes to continue playing football in college. Although nothing is set in stone, Ryan has a couple of New England schools on his radar.
“I would definitely love to play football in college. That’s dream of mine,” says Ryan, who thanks his Valley Regional coaches and his parents, Steve Santos and Jessica Underwood. “I will look to pursue a business or engineering degree. I don’t really have a dream school, but I’d like to stay around locally.”
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