* (Photo: Pietro Brezzo)
The 49ers High School Player of the Week Award for week 10 goes to #11, Connell Ryans of Willow Glen High School in San Jose, CA.*
Although the game between the Willow Glen Rams and Leland Chargers has historically been a huge rivalry game for the two San Jose high schools, this season's match up carried extra weight as the Rams looked to hand the undefeated Chargers their first loss of the 2017 season.
Even though the Rams usually rely on a shotgun spread offense where they balance both their run and pass game, in this rivalry matchup the team chose to take to the skies more than usual. This change in offensive attack was largely due to their talented Senior wide receiver, Connell Ryans, whose stature and leaping ability make him nearly impossible to stop.
At 6'1", 200 lbs, Ryans is a force to be reckoned with on the field. "Connell is a special player, he changes the game with his size and ability… Most defenses we have faced spend a lot of their energy on trying to stop him…Teams know who he is and what he can do, and they definitely respect that," boasted Head Coach Oscar Caballero.
In the first half, Willow Glen led 14-0 after sending Ryans airborne for two touchdown passes of 7 and 56 yards. Ryans even functioned as quarterback in a play where he received a lateral from the Rams quarterback and heaved a 53-yard pass back to the wide open quarterback down field. Coach Caballero explained, "As mentioned before, defenses always focus on him, so we've gotten creative with moving him to different spots on offense."
Ryans' aggressive game play led the team to a 33-27 victory over the Chargers, and he would finish the night with 5 catches for 131 yards, 3 touchdowns, and a blocked extra-point attempt.
"This is nothing new for Connell. He ended last season with a 4 touch down game (2 rushing, 2 receiving). He also had a 3 touch down receiving game in our first game of the season against Carmel. He currently has 12 touchdowns on the year," explained Coach Caballero.
In his third year on Varsity and a captain this season, Ryans leadership skills have developed and matured over the years. "He started his career as more of a lead by example player, but has definitely grown into a leader who has more confidence to be vocal with his teammates. That has been great for our program," explained Coach Caballero.
Caballero continued, "Connell has been blessed with unique physical abilities, but he has not coasted on those alone. He is one of the hardest working players that we've had in our program. That is a testament to his great character. Our players see that and respond well to his leadership."
The Senior's athletic ability is showcased on the defensive side of the ball as well as he was moved to the teams' middle linebacker position this past off season.
"Our coaches were, at first, a little cautious when talking to him about the move, but in pure Connell Ryans' fashion, he was on board immediately. Again, a testament to his great character and a much needed improvement to our defense," said Coach Caballero.
11 is an undoubtable stand out to the Rams coaching staff. "You can't miss Connell Ryans on the field. He stands out in every way imaginable, but what's even more impressive than his physical stature, is the size of his heart!" boasted Coach Caballero.
Outside of football, Ryans is an all-around athlete for Willow Glen, participating in track and field his freshman and sophomore year as well as playing on the school's volleyball team his Junior year.
As the home school of the 49ers High School Player of the Week, Willow Glen will receive a $500 grant for their football program from the 49ers Foundation. As part of this award, Ryans will receive two tickets to a 49ers home game where he will be recognized on the field during pre-game. At the end of the season, Ryans will be invited to the SAP Performance Facility to watch a closed practice where 49ers head coach, Kyle Shanahan, will officially present him with his award.
Congratulations Connell and keep up the phenomenal work!