The Estacada News' 'Outstanding Three-Sport Athlete'
Estacada senior Nick Keller has been a mainstay on the Estacada athletic fields during his time as a Ranger, so it is no surprise that we announce him as a repeat winner of our annual "Outstanding Three-Sport Athlete" award.
Keller shined on the football field where he was named the Tri-Valley Conference's Most Valuable Player on offense back-to-back seasons.
"He is a relentless warrior, who gives his all every single game, every single down," Estacada football coach Andy Mott said. "He was an unbelievable weapon to have on the football field."
It wasn't just the league's opposing coaches who took notice, but also area colleges. Western Oregon was an early leader in the recruiting race before Linfield stepped onto the scene. He has signed to play next season with the Wildcats where he is expected to fill a slot receiver role.
"They seemed more interested in me than anyone else, and it's a small environment like Estacada where everyone knows your name," Keller said. "I'll be catching the ball again — that feels more like my position."
Keller broke onto the scene at Estacada as a running back and receiver before being moved to the quarterback spot the summer before his junior year.
"People came out to workouts that summer and would ask if he had been running the offense since grade school," Mott said.
"Playing quarterback I had to learn the whole game. I wasn't just taking a handoff or running a route, I had to know where everybody on the field was at and what they were doing," Keller said.
The Rangers made a magical run to the 4A semifinals during Keller's sophomore season, and Estacada was back in the mix again this past season before falling in overtime at Seaside.
"It was such a fast-paced game, 24 points in the first few minutes, and it just went back and forth the whole way," Keller said. "Our seniors really stepped up in that game. Those are memories I will carry forever."
Keller will represent the Rangers one last time at the East-West Shrine Game on Aug. 3, in Baker City.
Keller also played the point guard spot during the basketball season, directing the ball around the court, while slashing to the basket when the opportunity presented itself.
He played the similar role during the baseball season, handling the ball on nearly every play as the starting catcher. Keller hit 30-for-74 (.405) out of the team's No. 2 spot in the lineup with six doubles and three home runs. He banged multiple hits in eight games.
This story is slated for our June 6, print edition.