STRASBURG — Strasburg’s football, basketball and baseball teams all had one thing in common this season — they were young. They also had strong senior leadership, and Ryan Smoot had a lot to do with that.
Smoot led the way on and off the field and helped guide the Rams to success in all three sports.
He said that he had help in leading the way from the other seniors, even though they were a small group.
“All of us, I thought, we really stepped up to the plate, trying to lead some young guys and showing them the way, show them how to be successful,” Ryan Smoot said. “I think all of us have experienced at least a little bit of success in our careers, so hopefully we can show them a little bit of how it’s done and the way to go about things. Hopefully we’ve done that and hopefully we’ve passed it on to them, so they can continue to work hard and be successful and continue to pass it on.”
Smoot, the Northern Virginia Daily’s 2014-5 Male Athlete of the Year, started his season helping to lead the Rams to a solid football season. However, things didn’t start off so well in the won-loss record.
Strasburg started off 1-3, but rebounded with six straight wins and a home playoff game, which they lost to King William.
“I thought as a team we had a very good season, obviously it started off a little rough,” Smoot said. “I think a little bit of that was our schedule, but I think it was a real credit to our team and our coaching staff that we could come back from a 1-3 season to win seven games and hosting a playoff game. In that respect, I thought it was a pretty special season.”
Smoot led the area with 38 receptions for 494 yards and 10 touchdowns from his tight end position. Defensively, he finished with 68 tackles, including 30 solo, one sack and one interception.
He said the highlight of his entire year came during football season. Smoot caught a 14-yard touchdown pass and game-winning two-point conversion from his brother, Mark, to beat Shenandoah County rival Central, 30-29.
“I think maybe because of a little selfishness the touchdown two-point conversion versus Central that [Mark] was able to throw me and just what that meant to our school in general and how big that was,” Ryan Smoot said. “There were so many moments … the one that maybe sticks out the most, because of who it was against and what it meant to the town in general, was probably the end of the Central game.”
Basketball season was also filled with plenty of memories for Ryan Smoot and his teammates. They won 22 games and advanced all the way to the regional semifinals.
Ryan Smoot averaged 8.4 points and 8.0 rebounds per game for the Rams. They also pulled off a big road victory in regionals over perennial power Bruton on a last-second shot by Trevin Howard.
“I thought our basketball season was really special,” Ryan Smoot said. “We were young and a little inexperienced and we had a lot of guys grow up throughout the season. Even a little after halfway when it got a little rocky on us, we lost three of five or something, dropped one at home to Warren County — it got a little rocky. It could have went south on us, but the coaching staff and some of the older guys were able to bring the group together and say hey what’s in front of us is more important. You got to keep working and keep believing and you pull a few upsets or you see what you can do and we were able to do that.”
The success didn’t stop coming for Ryan Smoot and his teammates in the spring as they moved to baseball season. Having lost in the Group 2A state finals last year, the team had high goals and they kept the program going strong.
The Rams went 19-0 in the regular season, and advanced to the Group 2A state semifinals.
“Obviously you go undefeated in the regular season in any sport, that’s really special,” Ryan Smoot said. “And to do it in baseball, anyone who knows anything about baseball knows how hard that is to do. I think that alone makes your season special no matter what you do in the postseason.”
Ryan Smoot did a lot for the team offensively and defensively, as the catcher. He finished with a .439 batting average and had 23 RBIs and an area-best 34 runs scored.
Strasburg baseball coach Jeff Smoot, who is also Ryan’s father, said that Ryan’s greatest strength was about more than just offense or defense.
“What Ryan brings to our team more than his ability, is his leadership and his knowledge of the game,” Jeff Smoot said. “It’s a little bit of a cliché, but probably as much as any player we’ve ever had he truly was a coach on the field. He understands the position and that is what will be so difficult to replace from him, I think.”
One constant for Ryan throughout his many years of playing sports has been playing with his twin brother. Mark and Ryan Smoot have been a fixture together in the purple uniforms, and Ryan said it’s been a lot of fun playing together.
“It’s been awesome, especially the positions that we’ve played in sports makes it a little more unique. He’s throwing it and I’m catching it — that kind of dynamic,” Ryan Smoot said. “Always having him there and someone to lean on and even someone you can yell at and you’re not going to take it too hard. It’s been a joy. It’s something that I will surely miss.”
In the fall, Ryan and Mark Smoot will go their separate ways in college. Mark will go to Ferrum College to play baseball, while Ryan will go to Virginia Military Institute to play baseball.
Ryan Smoot said he’s excited about playing at the next level at a Division 1 school.
“Obviously it’s a really unique school and it’s an awesome opportunity,” Ryan Smoot said. “Obviously it’s tough and no one’s going to sugarcoat that. I’m excited about it and I’m looking forward to kind of the grind of, not just baseball, but college life in general. It’s an awesome institute and when you get out of there they say you’re set for life, which is a huge bonus.”
Having a father as a coach, Ryan Smoot has always grown up around the school and the athletics program and he said it’s meant a lot for him to be a Ram for the last four years.
“This athletic program, and especially the three sports I played, I think really go about it the right way and don’t take shortcuts and work hard and work to get better,” Ryan Smoot said. “Even years where the wins may not show it, people are really working hard at what they do. The community is awesome here. They support you every season in whatever sport and the people know who the athletes are and know whether you won or lost the night before.
“This program from coach Hiserman all the way down to the athletes and my teammates for the last few years, it’s been an awesome experience and to get to have the success in the three sports that I played just kind of added to it.”
Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org