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Helena High running back Ryan Arntson developed into one of the best players in the state his senior year. He signed on Wednesday to play for Carroll College next season.

Hannah Potes, hannah.potes@lee.net

Merry Christmas, Carroll College!

The Saints’ upcoming holiday got a little bit brighter on Wednesday, when Helena High’s Ryan Arntson signed a letter of intent to play for the Saints next fall.

“It just takes a lot of weight off your shoulders,” Arntson told the IR Wednesday night. “Now, I can kind of relax and kind of get my focus back.

“Besides school, the second football ended it was just college -- I was reading all sorts of stuff on the Internet, thinking about recruiting classes, all sorts of things. (The process) definitely took up a big part of my day.”

The 2016 IR Super Team Offensive Player of the Year, Arntson was regarded by most to be the best running back in the state his senior season and led the Bengals to the State AA semifinals after an upset road win over Bozeman in the first round. Arntson (5-7, 170) finished his senior season with 1,810 yards and 30 touchdowns on the ground. He added 476 yards and three scores through the air. Tack on his 64 punt return yards and 311 kickoff return yards, and he wound up with 2,661 all-purpose yards.

As impressive as any statistic may be the fact that on 290 carries, he didn’t fumble the ball a single time.

He ended his Bengal career with 4,446 all-purpose yards and 42 total touchdowns, both records. That yardage total includes a career total of 2,689 rushing yards -- which falls only 81 shy of Tyson Bogumill’s career record of 2,770.

He leaves Helena High with an incredible 17 Bengal records, and will now be working to put himself in the Carroll record books -- a tall task, for sure, considering the program’s history of successful running backs. But it is a challenge he’s looking forward to.

More than anything, however, Arntson is eager to join older brother Troy on the Saints’ roster. He just completed his sophomore season as a receiver at Carroll. The pair has never been on the same team, as Ryan was a freshman at HHS during his brother’s senior year. He didn’t begin playing varsity until jumping onto the scene as a return specialist as a sophomore.

“When I visited, the campus is so nice and the coaches showed me a lot of individual attentions,” Ryan said. “And there’s just something about playing with my big brother. That would mean the world to me. It is something I never thought would happen, and to make that come true, that would mean the world to me.

“Playing in my hometown, that’s awesome. I’m gonna have a ton of friends around, and a lot of my old teammates went to Carroll. And then, definitely, there’s my brother. He isn’t the only reason, of course, but that does mean something.”

It means something to Troy, also.

A receiver-turned-quarterback for the Bengals, Troy Arntson redshirted in 2014 before being forced into action his freshman year because of multiple injuries ravaging the receiver corps. He was the only true receiver to play all 10 games and led the team in receptions. He continued to show what he’s capable of last season, and is quickly turning into a sure-handed threat for the Saints.

While he admitted to giving a pitch or two on the merits of being a Saint, he said there was never any pressure.

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“Honestly, it's a dream come true,” he said of his brother signing with Carroll. “I never really ‘begged’ him to come, because I wanted it to be his decision on wherever he wanted to go.

“Everything about Carroll is amazing, and I pretty much told him that he if he comes to Carroll it would be such a privilege to play with him and the school is more than anyone could ask for. The people you meet at Carroll are unbelievable and the football program and staff are unbelievable. I told him I really wanted it to be his decision on wherever his dream was to play football but Carroll is an amazing place. Other than that, it was all him.”

Ultimately, the decision was made, and Carroll won the Ryan Arntson Sweepstakes. Frontier schools were all interested in the speedy back -- he took visits to both Montana and Montana State, as well -- and both Montana Tech and Montana Western were finalists.

Arntson said he liked the coaches at both Tech and Western, but over the last few days realized there were some “big things I liked about Carroll, and that’s why I chose it.”

And now that he’s made that decision, he’s not wasting any time. Offseason plans are typically developed for recruits to get them ready for college football over the summer. Summer, Arntson said, is too far away.

“I don’t know when they’d give it to me, but I’m definitely going to them,” he said. “As soon as Christmas break’s over. I wanna hop on that as soon as I can.”

Follow IR sports editor Troy Shockley on Twitter @IR_TroyShockley.

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