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Ranger freshman Ryan Hunt, following in big brother's footsteps, celebrates first touchdown.

COURTESY PHOTO: HEIDI HUNT - Ryan Hunt, left, with his brother, Daniel, celebrated his first touchdown during a JV football game. A freshman running back following in the footsteps of his beloved older brother scored the most heartwarming touchdown of the season during an Estacada junior varsity football game last week.

Rangers running back Ryan Hunt, who has Down syndrome and is playing football for the first time, scored a 77-yard touchdown Monday, Sept. 19, against visiting Camas. The speedster took the ball at the 23 yard line as his teammates cleared a path down the right side of the field. Hunt cruised toward paydirt, dodging tackles and weaving around his blockers, as both sidelines cheered in support.

Upon scoring, he spiked the ball and struck a pose before being enveloped by congratulatory players from both teams who stormed the field.

"I think I have watched it 1,000 times," said his mother, Heidi Hunt.

It was a special moment, not just for Ryan, but the entire Rangers program.

"It is opportunities like this that make you remember why we coach," said Estacada JV Coach Bryan Scott. "His teammates were speechless and just shared the joy of being a part of such an opportunity."

"The (touchdown) is one that will be treasured by all in attendance for a lifetime to come," Scott added.

Hunt grew up watching his older brother, Daniel, play football for the Rangers and always wanted to be just like him. So he had a clear goal going into high school, and everyone on the Rangers, from the coaching staff to the players, have been supportive.

"They allow him to practice in a modified capacity but always make him feel like, 'one of the guys,'" Heidi said.

Hunt brings his energy and passion each day to practice.

"Having Ryan as a member of our team and football family is a pure pleasure," Scott said. "The whole entire team feeds off his energy and are all quick to help him find success in situations like warmups and ball handling skills."

"Ryan comes to practice each day focused on being the best him and helping us all remember to be the best us in everything we do," he added.

Football has gotten Hunt excited to wake up for school each morning and evaporated any nerves he had about attending high school. His teammates reach out to him at school and on the field and have become fast friends with their fellow Ranger.

"He is an Estacada Ranger — just like his friends are and just like his brother was," Heidi said. "His touchdown run was so much fun for him, and he can't wait until he gets to do it again."


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