Signal Sports Awards: Most Exciting Athlete

West Ranch High School’s Ryan Camacho lunges for extra yardage as St. Genevieve High School’s Howie Huerta (5) and Javier Fernandez (7) bring him down in the first quarter on Friday, Aug. 31 at Valencia High School. Kevin Karzin/For The Signal

Before the start of the 2018 football season, West Ranch senior running back Ryan Camacho said one of his goals was to average a minimum of five yards per carry.

“Last year I’d break off big runs, but a lot of my other runs weren’t big. I’m trying to get at least five yards per carry,” he said back in August.

When the final whistle blew on the Wildcats’ season, Camacho had accumulated a school-record 1,919 rushing yards on 193 carries, an average of 9.9 yards per carry.

Despite the confidence he has in his abilities on the field, even the 5-foot-9, 185-pound back couldn’t fathom he’d double his preseason goal. 

“I didn’t think that was going to happen,” Camacho said with a laugh. “It’s really cool just knowing I didn’t grow up in Santa Clarita, knowing I could come to a school out here and show everyone what I got. Performing that well, the hard work has paid off and the results are in the game.”

It was hard to keep your eyes off him because in the blink of an eye he could score. Every time he touched the ball he was a threat to take it to the house. The first tackler to make contact, rarely took him down.

After lighting up the league this past season, Camacho received the Signal Sports Award for Most Exciting Athlete of the Year.

Camacho surpassed the 100-yard mark eight times in 12 games and set a school record for the most rushing yards and touchdowns in a game with 332 yards and five scores on just 10 carries, a remarkable 33.2 yards per carry average. 

West Ranch senior Ryan Camacho plows through the Oxnard defense into the end zone to put the Wild Cats on the board in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 6 playoffs. Cory Rubin/ The Signal

He rushed for 215 yards and two touchdowns in West Ranch’s road playoff victory over Silverado, the first postseason win in program history.

His 28 total rushing touchdowns on the season also set a school record, but he didn’t only do his damage on the ground.

Camacho had 434 yards and five touchdowns on 21 receptions, 276 return yards plus a score and five interceptions on defense, including one returned for a touchdown.

Teaming up with his twin brother Jovan, the Camachos put their stamp on the best season in Wildcats history.

“Growing up we’ve always played offense and defense. Now in high school getting the chance, we’re lucky, because some people don’t get to,” Camacho said. “We just have to stay fit on the field at all times because going both ways is hard, but we find it really fun. The adrenaline kept us going. Having the chance to make plays every play as opposed to someone who just played on one side of the ball, it’s amazing.”

Though Camacho possessed the breakaway speed needed and to blow by defenders, it was his balance and ability to break through initial contact that set him apart.

Ryan Camacho (2) of West Ranch stiff-arms Chris Mendoza (7) and goes in for the first touchdown against Golden Valley at Valencia High School on Friday, Sept. 28, 2018. Dan Watson/The Signal

He rushed for 1,245 more yards than the second leading rusher in the Foothill League, and only fumbled the ball once.

“My best skill was run after contact,” he said. “I try not to go down against the first defender every play, try to get as many yards as I can after that first guy. I try to work hard on every play.”

While the highlight reel was long for the future College of the Canyons Cougar, where he will be playing football and baseball alongside his brother this upcoming year, his favorite moment from last season came when it counted the most.

With the Wildcats trailing by a touchdown in the third quarter of their opening round playoff game, Camacho took a handoff and ran 75 yards for the touchdown, evening the score and swinging momentum in his team’s favor.

“My favorite play was in the first playoff game when we were down, they had gotten three straight touchdowns,” he said. “I ran one in before the half, but my second rushing touchdown, I was really excited about that one.”

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