Youngren finally gets a good break

Youngren returns at the right time

Montrose High School running back Angelo Youngren missed much of the season with a broken bone in his right hand, then a broken collarbone, but returned to the Indians’ lineup in time for the playoffs.

Don’t talk to Angelo Youngren about catching a break.

He might run from you faster than a linebacker that he beat to the edge on a sweep.

Breaks? No, thank you. Youngren had two too many of the wrong kind during his senior football season, which he entered primed to improve upon the devastation he wrought as a junior when he was the offensive player of the year in the Southwestern Conference. That 1,602-yard, 18-touchdown campaign was going to pale in comparison with what he’d do as a bigger, faster, stronger tailback in Montrose’s run-pretty-much-every-down offense.

It was in evidence immediately when Youngren rushed for 188 yards and two touchdowns in the Indians’ opener, a 47-22 win over Vista Ridge.

Then came Game 2 at Palmer Ridge and a broken bone in his right hand. It was a fourth metacarpal spiral fracture, Youngren said, and it required a hard cast that limited him to playing defense and only a few plays on offense in the subsequent three games.

“The motion of stripping the football broke the bone,” Youngren said of the swipe he took at the ball while playing defensive back on the second play of the game.

He was happy to report he knocked the ball loose, and Montrose recovered it, then went on to score on offense.

Youngren knew something was wrong with his hand, but he tried to play through it until he fielded a punt. The ball, he said, “hit the hand, and I was done.”

Youngren went the next two games without a carry on offense, then snuck in two rushes against Hinkley, gaining 35 yards and scoring a TD.

Then came Game 6 against top-ranked, unbeaten Monarch, and Youngren was back at running back in a big way. He ran 29 times for 266 yards and three TDs as the Indians rallied from a 21-0 deficit to beat the defending 4A state champion Coyotes 39-34.

Feeling good, Youngren had a bye week before the SWC games began. And that brought Break No. 2, a collarbone, broken during practice.

“A ball was overthrown, and I dove for it and landed on my shoulder funny,” Youngren said. “I got up, started walking, and I moved it or something, and I knew (it was the collarbone). I was in a lot of pain.”

What hurt as much or more was the news from the doctor: Youngren would be sidelined eight to 10 weeks without surgery. He’d miss five to six weeks with surgery.

Youngren chose surgery, but it came with the uncertainty he’d see the field again as a senior. Even if he was back in five weeks, he’d miss all four conference games and the first round of the Class 4A playoffs.

He admitted, “I definitely was scared that I’d never play (high school) football again.”

His hope was the top-seeded Indians would win their first-round playoff, and he’d be ready for the second round and thereafter.

Then, after those bad breaks, he finally got a good one. It turns out Youngren is a fast healer. Forget five weeks. He was ready to return in four.

That meant he was on the field against Montbello in Saturday’s first-round playoff game. Montrose coach Todd Casebier said Youngren’s usage would be dictated by Youngren and how he felt.

He felt like 32 carries.

And he took them for 184 yards in the Indians’ 31-25 victory, giving him at least one more game.

“I can’t even express it in words,” Montrose senior Irah Wooten said of how much Youngren’s return means to the team. “When he comes back in and we’re at full strength, it’s just awesome that we can all be back together like that.”

Aside from being sore from the hits to his body, Youngren said his collarbone feels fine, and he’s getting back into football shape. The team’s routine for conditioning “is a lot easier this week,” he said.

That’s what Casebier expected, and he’s thrilled Youngren is getting an opportunity to shine in the postseason after being denied so much of his senior season.

“We wish we had him the whole time, but we have him now,” Casebier said.

And it’s the best time to be playing — for what’s at stake now, a championship, and what’s at stake thereafter, college football. Players on the Western Slope can fly under the radar with a lack of exposure compared with Front Range teams. But the postseason, especially the further a team advances, provides a stage recruiters don’t miss.

Youngren said college recruiters want to see game film from his senior season, and he has the opportunity to give them more to view. He wants to play college football, and he’d like to remain a running back, so he’s bent on turning heads in the playoffs.

But he remains a team-first player. More than a scholarship, he wants to celebrate a state championship with his teammates.

“If you ask Angelo, his story and our story are far from over,” Casebier said. “We both have plans for this ride not to be over until we’ve gone a lot further. ... We still think this story can end pretty cool.”

Tim Harty is The Daily Sentinel sports and recreation editor. Email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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