Fifth in a summer series looking at top players for the 2018 high school football season. The first was on Malvern Prep's Keith Maguire. The second was on Pleasantville's Mohamed Toure. The third was on Imhotep's Tykee Smith. The fourth was on Winslow Township's Donovan Bunch.

Anthony Young was an accomplished football player, a star defensive back at Temple and then a rookie standout with the Indianapolis Colts before suffering a career-ending neck injury.

So he knows a thing or two about talent, and he clearly saw ability in his youngest son, Aaron, at an early age.

As Aaron Young prepares for his senior year at Coatesville, he is considered one of the top running backs in Pennsylvania. He had 26 scholarship offers by early summer, and his father can still remember the potential greatness he saw when Aaron made his football debut.

That was at the age of four when the elder Young coached his son in flag football.

"He was the best," Anthony said. "He thought he would score a touchdown every time he touched the ball."

What impressed the father most was that Aaron was doing so well against players who were six or seven years old.

"He was just dominating," Anthony said.

Even in his formative football seasons, Aaron didn't have to look outside his house for motivation.

"He was very competitive and always wanted to keep up with his brothers," Anthony said.

Keeping up with brothers Jordan and Avery was no small task. Jordan, who is three years older than Aaron, will enter his redshirt sophomore season as a linebacker at Old Dominion, where last season he earned a spot on the Conference USA all-freshman team.

Avery, a recent graduate of Coatesville, is headed to Rutgers to play in the secondary on a scholarship.

“My parents always preached that to go anywhere in life, you have to do well academically, and that always stuck with me.” — Aaron Young

"My older brothers tried to roughhouse me, and it always helped me in the long run, staying up with them," Aaron said.

Jordan said Aaron always played with an edge.

"Aaron played like an angry kid when he was younger," Jordan said. "He had an aggressive nature and always wanted to compete."

Young runs for a touchdown against St. Joseph’s Prep last season.
CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer
Young runs for a touchdown against St. Joseph’s Prep last season.

Aaron also plays basketball and runs track at Coatesville, but football is his passion. At 5-foot-10 and 192 pounds, he has blinding speed and unusual power for a player his size.

Last season, Aaron rushed for 1,700 yards and 35 touchdowns on 171 carries. He also had 43 receptions for 370 yards and seven touchdowns.

And few can match his competitiveness.

"We were competitive in everything, 2K, Madden, playing football in the front yard," said Avery, "You can imagine him playing catchup, looking to pass both of us."

As the older brothers earned success, Aaron didn't want to be left out.

"Jordan set the bar. I got it to a level, and now Aaron expects to exceed that," Avery said. "We all pushed each other in a good way."

Just once did all three brothers get to play on the same team in tackle football. That was Aaron's freshman year, when he earned the starting running back spot about midway through the season. Jordan was the quarterback, Avery a receiver and defensive back.

"That was awesome, the best time in my life," said Anthony. "When you went to a game and watched the offense, all you would hear was 'Young' from the PA announcer."

Last season was especially gratifying for the Youngs and Coatesville. The Red Raiders went 13-2 and won the PIAA Class 6A District I championship with a 35-28 victory over Garnet Valley.

Avery broke the tie with a 72-yard interception return for a touchdown with just 19 seconds left to give Coatesville its first district title since 2012.

"It was definitely one of my favorite seasons, especially winning the district championship game and having my brother get that touchdown," Aaron said. "It was great, and you can't beat that."

This year, Aaron will try to. The Red Raiders saw their season end in a wild 53-49 state semifinal loss to St. Joseph's Prep.

"The goal this year is to go further," Aaron said.

Young has benefitted from competing with his brothers.
CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer
Young has benefitted from competing with his brothers.

Big-play ability

Anybody who has seen Young play realizes the fear he puts into opposing defenses with his big-play ability.

"He is so fast he can hit the hole and break it 80 yards," said junior quarterback Ricky Ortega.

Added offensive tackle Ricky Santiago, "You see him making guys miss and burning down the sidelines, and it is fun to watch."

Yet it's more than his speed that has led to Young's success.

"I also think it is his vision and ability to change direction," said head coach Matt Ortega, the father of the quarterback. "Along with his will, he has something inside that is so different than most players."

In defending against Coatesville, teams have to pick their poison. Last year as a sophomore, Ricky passed for 3,291 yards and 42 touchdowns in joining Young on the Inquirer's all-Southeastern Pennsylvania first team.

If defenses gear too much to stopping the pass, there is Young ready to spearhead the ground game.

"You either have to stop our passing game or him, and it's really hard to do both," Ricky Ortega said.

Stopping Young in the passing game is another problem for opposing defensive coordinators.

Young runs against North Penn in 2016.
BRADLEY C. BOWER
Young runs against North Penn in 2016.

All-around package

Young, who also plays in the secondary, has made official visits to Arkansas, Michigan State and Northwestern. Stanford and North Carolina are among other schools he is considering visiting. He has also made an unofficial visit to Penn State.

Another reason Young is so desired by colleges is that he has done so well off the field. He is a member of the National Honor Society.

"I have coached a bunch of great players over the year, and Aaron stands out for being the total package, how he attacks the classroom along with how he attacks the football field," Matt Ortega said.

It was instilled in Young at a young age that he had to hit the books hard.

"My parents always preached that to go anywhere in life, you have to do well academically, and that always stuck with me," Young said. "My brothers have helped me in so many ways, being competitive, with recruiting. They have pushed me to be better than them."