Keenan DeRaeve named 2018-19 Athlete of the Year for Lake Oswego
Lake Oswego's Keenan DeRaeve had some big expectations coming into his senior year.
How could he not?
As a linebacker and running back for Laker head coach Steve Coury's football team, DeRaeve was coming off a state semifinal berth with Lake Oswego in 2017 and knew they'd be good again.
As a defender on head coach Rick Gruen's LO lacrosse team, DeRaeve and the Lakers had advanced to the state semifinals a year earlier and believed they would be even better in 2019.
With all that as pretext, DeRaeve's senior year blew all his expectations away.
The Lake Oswego football team broke through to win the Three Rivers League, and later, its first Class 6A state championship since 2011, with DeRaeve earning first-team all-Three Rivers League and second-team all-state honors at linebacker.
Then, in the spring, the Lakers raced to another TRL championship and followed it up with the first boys lacrosse title in school history, with DeRaeve winning first-team all-Three Rivers League and first-team all-state honors on defense.
For all those reasons and more, DeRaeve has been named the Lake Oswego Review's 2018-19 Athlete of the Year for Lake Oswego High School. The Athlete of the Year honor is awarded annually to the top senior athlete at Lake Oswego High School. The 2018-19 Lakeridge Athlete of the Year will be honored in the July 11 edition of the Lake Oswego Review.
DeRaeve, 18, will continue his athletic career next year as a member of the Marist College men's lacrosse team; DeRaeve plans to study sports communication at Marist, a Division 1 school located in Poughkeepsie, New York.
DeRaeve's coaches — Coury and Gruen — knew exactly why DeRaeve had so much success in the 2018-19 school year.
"I have been here for 27 years and this kid is as good of a person as I have had at LO," Coury said. "He is the type of young man that makes everyone around him better — school, sports, anything."
"Not only is Keenan a phenomenal athlete on the field, his ability to lead and inspire carries over to the sidelines, at practices, in the locker room or weight room or just gathering together the players for non-lacrosse activities," Gruen added.
While DeRaeve knew he'd contribute as a linebacker in his senior season, he expected that his contributions on offense would be more modest thanks to the return of varsity running backs Casey Filkins and Collin Bracken.
Indeed, DeRaeve probably believed that leadership would be his most important contribution in 2018.
"There were four or five of us who really bought in and wanted to bring another state championship to Lake Oswego," DeRaeve said, mentioning teammates Chris Todd, Filkins, Joe Hutson and Marshall McGuire. "We learned from the guys who were here ahead of us and we wanted to show the younger players what it meant to be a real Laker."
Further, the pain from the team's 2017 playoff loss helped fuel the Lakers' drive in 2018.
"We didn't want it to end like it did the year before," DeRaeve said. "It stung. It fueled us and got us going for this year."
The Lakers got going right away in 2018, thumping West Salem, edging past Jesuit and crushing Oregon City in their first three games. But then, with Lake Oswego riding high and looking forward to greatness, the Lakers hit a bump — in this case, a controversial 49-39 loss at Clackamas that spoiled LO's hopes for a perfect season.
As painful as that loss was — the Cavaliers benefitted from two hotly debated receptions that helped them score 13 points in the game's final 22 seconds to win 49-39 — it set the table for what was to come over the Lakers' final 10 games.
"Honestly, a loss makes you work harder," said DeRaeve, who came into the game and picked up 42 yards and score one touchdown after Bracken injured an ankle. "We were humbled a little bit, and after that, we were on an uphill the rest of the year."
Indeed they were. Down the stretch, the Lakers won 10 straight games — including a 5-0 mark in the Three Rivers League — outscored their opponents by an average margin of 36-17 and left everyone in their wake.
Along the way, the Lakers knocked off perennial power West Linn 41-28, dumped crosstown rival Lakeridge 30-14 in a game delayed by a second-half power outage, then eliminated a who's who of Oregon's best at the end of the state playoffs, beating Central Catholic 35-24 in the quarterfinals, ousting Jesuit 24-14 in the semifinals and Sheldon 34-27 in the state title contest.
And DeRaeve was there every step of the way, limiting opponents all season long as part of the Lakers' stingy defense and making key contributions to LO's high-octane offense. Among DeRaeve's highlights were a two-touchdown game against West Linn, a 53-yard effort against North Medford in the first playoff round, a 132-yard, two-TD game against Oregon City in LO's second playoff and 57 more yards against Central Catholic.
"The coaches asked me to step up in the Clackamas game," he said. "They wanted a solid guy who wouldn't fumble the ball. I think I did my job well."
Indeed he did. By year's end, DeRaeve — he hadn't played running back since his sophomore year — racked up 400 yards and five touchdowns, with 267 yards coming in the state playoffs.
"We had the 'next man up' mentality. That's what I took away from that," DeRaeve said. "The coaches gave me confidence that I could do it."
State championships don't come easily, however. In the title contest against Sheldon, the Lakers got five touchdowns from Filkins and pulled ahead 34-27 with 2 minutes, 38 seconds left to play, then gave the ball back to the Irish and stars Michael Johnson Jr., Patrick Herbert and Matthew Burgess.
"That was probably the longest possession of my whole life," DeRaeve said. "We had to stop them or it was over. I looked over to Matt Sebolsky and said 'We've got to do this.'"
The Lakers did just that, eventually sealing up LO's biggest victory in a very, very long time.
"We really wanted to play for coach Coury. He had a couple tough years when we were younger," DeRaeve said. "And we wanted to play for coach (Jeff) Young. He started the 'LO 48' thing and we really wanted to play for him, too."
"He was one of the biggest reason we won the title," Coury said. "His attitude, his leadership and his abilities were all key factors."
There was more excitement, another championship and more unexpected turns ahead in DeRaeve's senior lacrosse season.
After starting the season at just 6-4 — including a painful 18-6 loss to Lakeridge in TRL play — the Lakers got right, shifted into top gear and left the rest of the state behind. Over the final six weeks of the 2019 season, the Lakers won 10 straight times, won the Three Rivers League title with a 7-1 record and strung together four straight victories in the Oregon High School Lacrosse Association state playoffs, including the team's 14-7 victory over West Linn in the state title contest.
None of that, however, was guaranteed or expected by anyone outside of the Lakers' themselves.
"All through high school, people always doubted us. People were always saying 'LO will never win,'" DeRaeve said.
Coming off the team's semifinal appearance a year before — and motivated by the pain of that loss — DeRaeve and the Lakers were motivated like never before.
"I thought 'I need this more than anything. I'll lead the team. I'll do anything,'" DeRaeve said. "I wanted to win for us, for the program, for the city and for the (Lake Oswego players) who hadn't won before."
DeRaeve was right in the middle of it all, too, racking up four goals, three assists, 58 ground balls and 53 caused turnovers over the course of the season.
But the road to the championship was neither straight nor true for DeRaeve. In the Lakers' 12-7 quarterfinal playoff win over Jesuit, DeRaeve chased down a ground ball, then dove and re-directed it to teammate Jonas Hunter.
On the play, DeRaeve hit the ground hard and may have also been kicked in the head by a Jesuit player. Whatever the cause, DeRaeve got hit hard and left the game with what he later learned was a concussion.
"I was out of it. It was an out of body experience," he said.
Based on the OHSLA's concussion protocol, DeRaeve missed the rest of the Jesuit game, and soon thereafter, learned he would also miss the Lakers' semifinal and final contests as well.
"I told the doctor 'I'm OK. I'm going to play.' But the doctor shook his head and I was so angry," DeRaeve said. "I was angry, I was sad — so many things."
The Lakers, with DeRaeve limited to the role of unofficial assistant coach, stayed hot down the stretch, rallying from six goals down in the fourth quarter to beat Lakeridge 12-11 in overtime in their semi, then kept explosive West Linn under control from start to finish in their 14-7 state title win.
"(The semifinal) was tough at the start, but when it got rolling, I was just excited for my teammates. We never gave up. We always believed," he said.
While the championship game wasn't as close, DeRaeve — along with fellow injured defender Henry Sorenson — worried every second of the way until the Lakers sealed up their victory.
"I was more nervous when we were on defense, but the other guys really stepped up," DeRaeve said. "They really believed and got it done."
His efforts did not go unnoticed.
"Athletes like Keenan are rare — someone who values competing with class and integrity and upholds our Laker Way mission — to compete with passion, pride and purpose every day," Gruen said. "What he did for his teammates during our semifinal and final lacrosse games goes well beyond talent. Throughout the semi and final games, Keenan's sideline presence, his huddle talks with teammates and constant communication to the defense were key factors in our team's success."
As painful as it was for DeRaeve to watch his team's final two playoff games from the sidelines, he enjoyed the Lakers' ultimate victory as much as anyone, celebrating his team, celebrating Gruen and assistant coach Eric Ginsberg (he died of a heart attack in January).
"It was an awesome way to end it," he said. "We were always the sport that no one cared about. Now, people think of LO as a lacrosse school and that's pretty cool."
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