GREELEY - High school football teams across the state are hitting full speed as we approach Friday night, but that's no problem for one player at Greeley Central. He's used to going fast.
Brett Yackey is a three-sport athlete for the Wildcats. It's basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring, but his favorite comes on the gridiron every fall.
"Football is so fun when you get Friday night, under the lights," the senior said. "It's just an unreal feeling you don't get doing anything else."
"High, high octane," Greeley Central football coach Gary Luster said of Yackey, "He's an intense young man."
Pound-for-pound, Yackey is the strongest kid at the high school. In 2016, he led the Wildcats in all-purpose yards on offense, a feat he'll look to do again this season. But Yackey operates at 100 miles per hour at all times -- including when he's away from the field.
"Three years before I got my license, I was racing, so when I got my license, driving was so easy for me," he said.
A third-generation driver, Yackey has exploded onto the professional race car scene. The senior currently competes in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, racing super late models. Last year, he was named Colorado's rookie of the year.
"The biggest thing is just the adrenaline rush you get and the thrill of competition just racing inches from each other, going 100 MPH," Yackey said. "It's just one of my passions and I absolutely love it. I would like to move up, move to the next levels, [and] get bigger into NASCAR."
"I think that translates from football to racing," Luster added. "They love rubbing paint in the race game, and he loves hitting people in the football game."
Admittedly, Yackey says -- he's typically one of the more physical athletes in each of his high school sports.
"I think football, being my favorite, it's a lot to do with the contact," he said. "Just knowing you get to hit somebody for a whole game without getting in trouble for it, that's a lot of fun."
Yackey hits the books as hard as he does his sports. The senior holds a 3.75 GPA while juggling his busy schedule. After school, he'll attend football practice before heading home to do homework and work on his cars.
"I enjoy working on the cars as much as I like racing them," he said. "You put a lot of work in and then when you hit the track and it pays off, that's really when you notice how fun it is."
The hard work appears to being paying off. This year, Yackey was the youngest of seven drivers named to the prestigious Kulwicki Driver Development Program, which is made up of the top drivers ages 17 to 25 in the United States and Canada. He is currently competing for the Kulwicki Cup, which is earned by a combination of race finishes, community service and social media following.
While the sports appear vastly different, Yackey uses his experiences from both to excel -- that's why you can expect him to make headlines on the track and field this fall.
"He's a strong emotional leader, but he's not a 'me' guy, he's more of a 'we' guy," Luster said.
"It's just a matter of keeping your teammates involved in both sports and then just being dedicated and putting in the hard work," Yackey added.
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