Lake Oswego's Casey Filkins named Offensive Player of the Year
Lake Oswego running back Casey Filkins was not the biggest guy roaming Oregon's high school backfields last fall.
Neither was Filkins the fastest back to grace the state's gridirons in the fall of 2018.
And no, Filkins wasn't the Class 6A leader in yardage either.
What Filkins was, however, was this — he was the best.
Filkins, a junior who led Lake Oswego to the Class 6A state football championship back on Dec. 1, was named Oregon Class 6A Offensive Player of the Year on Dec. 31.
While he had hoped to win — Filkins was one of four finalists announced 10 days earlier — LO's star back admitted to a moment of doubt before his final selection was made public.
"Before (I found out), there was all that talk — 'Oh Casey, you're bound to win it,'" he said. "And all that stuff's great to hear, but you never know until you truly know so part of me was still doubtful. I never really thought I'd be in the position to be awarded that kind of honor, but with the great season we had, the chips kind of fell that way."
Despite his relative physical and statistical shortcomings, Filkins was one of the few people around the state who didn't think he'd win Offensive POY honors.
During the 2018 season, Filkins — a 5-foot-11, 185-pound running back/wide receiver — led the Lakers to a 5-0 record and a championship in Special District 5 (formerly the Three Rivers League), the top ranking entering the state playoffs, and eventually, a 13-1 overall record and the Class 6A championship.
Along the way, Filkins racked up 1,160 yards and 28 touchdowns on just 171 carries, and caught 48 passes for another 869 yards and nine more TDs.
The Lakers capped the second football championship season in Lake Oswego history by beating third-ranked Sheldon in a 34-27 thriller at Hillsboro Stadium. At the same time, Filkins burnished his case for his eventual selection as the best 6A offensive player in the state.
In the title contest against the Irish, Filkins did just about everything right.
He carried the ball 16 times for 90 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. He caught five passes from Laker senior quarterback Jackson Laurent that accounted for another 77 yards and his team's fifth TD.
Here's what it looked like along the way.
First, Filkins ran for a 3-yard touchdown in the opening quarter. Next, he scored from 3 yards out again in the second period, and after that, he added a 40-yard TD reception before the half that gave Lake Oswego a 20-10 advantage.
Filkins cashed in again in the third quarter on a 13-yard sprint past the Sheldon defense, and then, he sealed his team's win when he scored from 1 yard out with 2 minutes, 33 seconds left in the contest to help his team re-take the lead at 32-27.
And finally, just for good measure, he caught a Laurent pass on the ensuing two-point conversion for the final 34-27 margin of victory.
After taking the rest of December off to rest and heal, Filkins got back to his rigorous schedule of workouts in January. He chose not to play basketball this season, but will run track during the spring season in preparation for a series of camps and combines over the summer that should help build his recruiting profile.
"There's a lot of camps and combines that I'm going to," Filkins said. "As recruiting picks up, I've got to go to camps and put myself out there."
Already a subject of interest for college recruiters, Filkins has seen attention grow in the weeks since his POY selection. He's gotten offers from both Montana State and Dartmouth so far, met with both Harvard and UC Berkeley two days ago, and has also had conversations with Stanford, UCLA, Oregon State and Washington State.
"I'm not going to lie — I wish it was a little more busy, but it's starting to pick up a little bit," Filkins said.
While he is far from ready to make a decision — he wants to get back to the East Coast to see some of the Ivy League schools in person — Filkins admits that it's hard to wait.
"Sometimes it's discouraging because you see the other kids posting on Twitter about the offers they've gotten, but I just stay focused on what I can control," he said. "And what I can control is putting myself in an even better position to contribute to the team next year, and hopefully, win another title."
As much as Filkins did to earn his honor, he went out of his way — again and again — to emphasize the indispensable contributions of his team.
"It was really cool to see all my hard work from the offseason pay off … (but) all credit goes to my teammates and coaches, because if we weren't in the position we were in, I probably wouldn't have even been considered for the award."
After helping the Lakers reach the state semifinals in 2017, Filkins and his teammates — having learned from the leadership of that year's seniors and absorbing the lessons of that season's bitter end — came back even better in 2018.
"I can't speak enough about how close we were with one another and the type of team we were," Filkins said. "That's not to say we weren't in a great environment two years ago. Those seniors of my sophomore year definitely laid the foundation to go into (2018) with all guns blazing. I can't give enough credit to our seniors this year for bringing out the best in each other."