By Kyle LoJacono
The Sunlake football team has had a record number of college signees following the most successful season in the program’s five-year history.
Even the punter is getting into the act.
Joe Young became the eighth Seahawk to sign with a college. He inked his name to a letter of intent May 30 with Waldorf College in Iowa, an NAIA program in the Mid-States Football Association.
“This opportunity is great, and it’s something I never really saw coming,” said Young, who will study sports management. “I’m happy that I got it, and I think it’s going to better me and my future. I’m the first one to graduate high school in my family, and I’m really excited that I’m going anywhere for college. I want it to be a new trend in my family.”
Young is the second Sunlake punter/kicker to sign with a college in as many years following Adrian Krupka. Football coach Bill Browning said Young helped the Seahawks win the battle of special teams almost every game.
“We’ve been really lucky to have two really good punters the last two years,” Browning said. “They help with field position, which makes it easier to play offense and defense.”
Young said there was a lot of pressure to execute every punt to precision, especially because Browning puts a lot of emphasis on special teams.
“We’re out there way less than anyone else, so we have less room for a mistake,” Young said. He added, “At a lot of places the quarterbacks get special treatment. Coach Browning treated us better than the quarterbacks sometimes.”
Young booted 38 punts this season for 1,350 yards, 35.53 per attempt, while dropping eight inside the 20-yard line. His efforts helped the Seahawks set a program record with 10 wins to two losses last year, qualify for their first postseason and reach the Class 6A regional semifinals.
Young looked like an experienced punter, but his senior season was the first time he’d played the position at any level of organized football.
In fact he last played on a gridiron in fourth grade, and that was in a flag football league.
“I played a lot of backyard football, and I always knew I could kick,” Young said. “I didn’t want to regret not going out for football, so I did for my senior year.”
Young said he’s gotten much stronger, but the biggest improvement has been his consistency
“At the start of the season every now and then I’d kick one 50 yards, but by the end of the year I was doing it all the time,” Young said. “I was getting the right spiral and hang time, which is what you need to be a good punter.”
The newly-signed Waldorf Warrior said he will always remember that one season on Sunlake’s football field.
“Everything about the season was amazing,” Young said. “It was a great experience. We had a great team and they’re going to be great for a long time.”
–Stats as recorded to Maxpreps.com by coaches