Ryan Larson is Central's all-time football leading scorer, rusher
It is more than fitting. After the career he's had, Ryan Larson deserves to be the all-time leading rusher and leading scorer in the St. Croix Central football program.
Larson finished his SCC career with 4,421 yards rushing and 71 total touchdowns. Both marks break records that were set by Peter Reineck a quarter-century ago. With his rushing total, Larson has averaged more than 100 yards rushing in every game of his 43-game career.
The last time fans saw Larson, he was playing on one healthy leg after suffering a knee injury in the second half of the WIAA Division 4 state championship game. Larson said the injury was a Grade 2 sprained MCL and a sprained medial capsule. The good news is the injury won't require surgery. Larson said doctors have told him the injury requires six weeks of recovery, so he's targeting an early January return to the Panther wrestling team.
After the injury, trainers were taking Larson to the locker room. He stopped them in the tunnel.
"I said tape it up. I wasn't going to miss that game," Larson said.
Larson wasn't able to return to the offense, saying he couldn't get into his stance because of the knee injury. He did return to the defense. On one play late in the game, he leaped to knock down a pass over the middle.
"My jump was about six inches (high) off my bad leg," Larson said with a wry smile.
Larson was the leading rusher for the Panthers in each of the past three seasons, which culminated with appearances in the state championship game each time. He said the credit for the program's success should go in a number of directions, starting with Panthers several years ago.
"Cody Gostovich, Trent Smith and my brother (Kyle) convinced me to lift with them every day when I was in seventh, eighth grade. Those guys really pushed me. Those guys are my role models," he said.
Larson said the lines in front of him were a big reason for his success, making sure to single out two-way all-state classmate Nate Berends.
"I wouldn't take half the credit for what I did," Larson said, saying that recognition should go to his linemen.
Larson was able to continue to be a force, though the number of his carries declined since his sophomore season. While the carries decrease, his rushing average rose. He averaged 6.1 yards per carry as a sophomore and 7.0 yards as a junior. This year, he averaged an astronomical 9.5 yards per carry, scoring 32 touchdowns.
Larson spoke glowingly of his battles with Somerset's Jack Peterson through the years.
"He's a warrior. Total props. He's probably the nicest, best character player we went against all season," Larson said.
The guys Larson saves his highest praise for are his classmates.
"It's the same guys growing up together, playing flag football in elementary school. We've been such close friends for so long. We're literally family, growing up with each other," Larson said.