Whether he’s returning a kick, hauling in a pass or defending one there isn’t much on the football field that Harlan’s Eric Young can’t do. The punter/kick returner/receiver/defensive back is usually making big plays for the Green Dragons no matter where he lines up on then football field.
“I just try to get in and make plays every time that I step on the field. Whether it is punting, returning punts, kick return, offense or defense — I just try to do my best to make plays for my team,” Young said.
Early in his high school career, Young made his initial contribution on special teams, where he excelled in the kicking and return game. That has continued this season, as the senior has hit five extra points in addition to his punting and return duties.
“Eric has been a real plus this year with his ability to turn the field over in the kicking and return game. He has constantly turned the field over in our favor,” said Harlan coach J.B. Donahue. “He kind of put in his work when he was younger. He started out kicking and playing a little in the return game. Then, he evolved into playing a little more defense, and he has emerged as a three-way player for us this year. He is a kid that has really put in his work to get where he is at.”
Young’s talents later became obvious in the secondary, where emerged as a leader of that group. This season, he has picked off two passes and added 15 tackles.
“His athleticism has allowed him to be a playmaker for us,” Donahue said. “He has the ability to defend people. He has the ability to lock down the other team’s best receivers.”
“I just try to let the guys know that they are back there for a reason, and to make plays to the best of their ability,” Young added.
With the graduation of Vince Bianchi, Young’s role has been expanded even more this season, as he taken over at receiver alongside fellow senior David Allen. Young is second on the team in receiving with over 450 yards and eight touchdowns.
“He has made a lot of big plays on the offensive side. He has complimented David on the outside, and has given us two guys out there that people have to try to defend,” Donahue said. “That shows his athleticism and his skill level to be able to play all three facets of the game and be good at it.”
Despite his success in every phase of the game, Young is an unselfish player and is quick to deflect any praise to his teammates and coaches.
“Football is a team sport. You can’t play it by yourself,” he said. “The coaches tell us that if we care about the person beside us that our team will come together and we will play better, and that is what I try to do.”
Young will look to lead the Dragons to a victory over Lynn Camp in the first round of the Class A playoffs on Friday.