Even if Meridian coach Bob Ames admits the Trojans don’t design specific plays for 6-foot-3, 200-pound senior tight end Kyle Young deep in opponents territory, if Meridian ventures into the red zone, odds are Young’s getting a ball thrown his way.
Good hands, versatile, strong field awareness: those were just some of the words Ames used to describe his two-way standout, who also starts at outside linebacker.
Young falls into the en vogue style of basketball-playing tight ends. Also a standout on the hardcourt, Young has been a true difference-maker for Meridian this fall.
He leads the team in receptions (24), receiving yards (500) and touchdowns (seven), establishing himself as quarterback Tanner Tutterrow’s favorite target.
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“That’s been my quarterback since kindergarten flag football,” Young said in a phone interview. “We have always been playing together. We definitely have a good connection. We talk to each other before plays.”
Meridian (5-4) has reached the state playoffs every year since 2006, and the Trojans will look to continue the streak when they travel to face Cascade Conference champion King’s at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 7, in Shoreline. Young’s second-half play has been paramount to Meridian’s ability to reach the district tournament.
Since Week 5, Young has 402 receiving yards and six touchdowns, including a three-TD effort Week 5 against Mount Baker.
“He has just been money for us,” Ames said in a phone interview.
Young may be more visible as a pass-catching tight end, but his importance extends to the defensive side of the ball. Sure, he can run routes, catch and block, but his true versatility shines on defense.
The Trojans use him as a traditional outside linebacker who can take on a lead blocker and stuff the run, they have him match up with wide receivers in pass coverage and he also puts his hand in the dirt and gets after quarterbacks.
On top of those responsibilities, he began taking defensive calls from the sideline and getting everyone aligned properly last year, and he’s has carried that onus to this season.
“He’s kind of a quiet guy, but he plays at an extremely high level,” Ames said. “He is a standout, and sometimes we drop him into coverage. He plays where we need him. He’s just a special guy.”
He’s part of a defense that’s allowed 4.5 yards per carry, 1,001 passing yards and 10 touchdowns to go with eight interceptions.
Ames always knew Young would be a strong defensive contributor this fall. The Meridian coach said something clicked with him toward the beginning of last season.
“All of a sudden he got it,” Ames remembered. “It’s been really cool to watch him mature and his production just explode.”
Young’s offensive contributions have been much harder to predict.
The Meridian tight end, playing behind standouts such as Jacob Plagerman and Sam Chambers, logged only two receptions for 20 yards last fall. Young said he’s certainly appreciated the increased workload.
Interestingly enough, Young’s vast production has come on the heels of what was, for the most part, a lost offseason.
From July 8 to mid-August, four days before Meridian began preseason football camp, Young was working on a fishing boat in Prince William Sound in Alaska with his grandfather.
Young admitted he had to quickly re-acclimate by matching the football shape many of teammates who had been lifting all season where in. Ames mandates a minimum of 20 weight-room workouts, and Young began training the minute he got back, including after football practices.
“I felt like there was a lot I had to do,” Young said. “There were a lot of good 40 times. Everyone worked hard this summer. My other teammates did it, so I had to put in my work.”
And Young’s effort has certainly materialized into a memorable season.