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TMP's Mayorga to become a Blue Dragon

By AUSTIN COLBERT

acolbert@dailynews.net

It was after Thomas More Prep-Marian's football game at Ellsworth on Sept. 27 -- a heartbreaking 29-25 loss -- that Ryan Mayorga met Hutchinson Community College offensive line coach Tyler Brock.

Mayorga, a 6-foot-4, 165-pound senior for TMP, finished the game with four catches for 64 yards and a 46-yard interception return for a touchdown. Mayorga made enough of an impression on Brock that weeks later Hutch offered him a scholarship to play football.

"It's always been a dream of mine to play at the next level and this is a great opportunity Hutch gave me to come up there and play for them," Mayorga said. "It was pretty exciting to know that somebody cares and is actually willing to offer you a scholarship to play at the next level."

On Wednesday, Mayorga made it official by signing his letter of intent to play for the Blue Dragons in the fall. TMP plans to hold a signing ceremony sometime next week at the high school.

"It's a new adventure in life, a next step coming out of high school," said Tim Mayorga, Ryan's father. "Ryan is a hard worker and he's got a pretty good head on his shoulders. He set a goal for himself to do this starting in high school. This is one of his dreams and it's exciting for him."

Hutchinson is one of the premier junior college programs in the state. The Blue Dragons are coming off an 8-4 season in which they finished No. 17 in the NJCAA poll. They frequently finish in the top half of the powerful Jayhawk Conference.

Mayorga will play wide receiver for Hutch and wants to add about 20 pounds in order to better compete with the next-level athletes he will face.

"One of the most exciting things about Ryan is he hasn't reached his full potential yet," TMP football coach John Montgomery said. "He is going to have to really work and get in the weight room, put on some muscle and increase the weight. If he can get up to 185 pounds at 6-4, that gives him an advantage against some of the physical corners and defensive backs."

Montgomery spoke with Mayorga on Monday when he was still deciding between Hutch and Dodge City Community College, the two schools that offered him scholarships.

Ultimately the decision came down to a general sense of belonging for Mayorga.

"It was pretty good for me to know my parents liked both schools so I knew they were going to be happy no matter what decision I made," Mayorga said. "I went to visit each school and after visiting Hutch I just felt like that was the right place, the right school."

As exciting as it is for Mayorga, who plans to pursue a degree in business or architecture, it's also exciting for Montgomery and the Monarchs. The TMP football program has hardly been a factory for college football players in recent years, although they did have tight end Anthony Walters sign with Ottawa University a season ago.

But with Mayorga moving on to Hutch, Montgomery calls it a "big win for the program" and hopes this will motivate the returning Monarch players to work hard and follow in his footsteps.

"Kids can start to see, 'If I'm willing to put in the work, if I'm willing to take coaching and develop, I can achieve some of those dreams to play against high-caliber athletes,' " Montgomery said. "I think it opens doors and allows the kids to hopefully believe they have the opportunity if they are willing to make the commitment.

"It's very exciting to see somebody achieve their goals and get the opportunity to take their game to the next level."