Expectations for the football team are always high in Aledo, and no one felt that pressure more than senior wide receiver Ryan Newsome.
Coming into the year with plenty of preseason accolades, Newsome knew he was going to need to make plays.
Beginning the season with a strained hamstring, however, did not allow him to be as productive as he knew he could be, and his confidence was rattled.
Newsome and his team also had the burden of an early 42-7 loss to La Puente (Calif.) Bishop Amat that brought a lot of external negativity.
"People were saying all kinds of stuff about us, like we weren’t good, but we didn’t let that get in our ear," Newsome said. "We knew we had games to play, and we had to go win them."
From then on, Aledo went on a roll that resulted in its second straight state championship, led by Newsome’s 1,073 receiving yards and 12 receiving touchdowns.
That resilience and playmaking ability led Newsome to be named the Star-Telegram 2014 Super Team Offensive Player of the Year.
Beyond healing from an early-season injury, Newsome said he found support from his teammates, coaches and even an NFL Hall of Famer to get his mental game back on track.
"Deion Sanders said I was the best player in the state," Newsome said. "That meant a lot to me, because I was having some trouble with my confidence earlier in the season. My dad talked to him a little bit, and he’s definitely been a great guy to meet throughout my life."
The three-star recruit racked up 470 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground, just one indicator of his versatility.
Newsome also returned punts and kicks, took snaps out of the wildcat formation and lined up anywhere on offense he was needed, former Aledo head coach Tim Buchanan said.
The 5-foot-9, 175-pound receiver has had offers from 30 schools. Recently, on Twitter, he announced his top three choices as UCLA, Texas and Tennessee. Newsome is expected to announce his much-aniticipated decision on Jan. 23.
For Newsome, this year’s Class 5A Division I state championship was better than last year’s title, but not because of his role in it.
"My best friend [running back] Jess Anders, him coming back from injury meant the world to me," he said after Aledo’s 49-45 title victory over Temple. "As you could see, I felt like he had the best game today. He put us on his back and we just rolled."
But as head coach Steve Wood and Buchanan would say, that’s just the kind of kid Newsome is.