Jackson McGinley named 2018-19 Athlete of the Year for Lakeridge
There's no two ways about it — Lakeridge's Jackson McGinley is solid as a rock.
On the football field, he was the Pacers' team captain, defensive Player of the Year and a two-time all-Three Rivers League pick who helped shepherd Lakeridge's recent renaissance.
In his final three seasons of lacrosse, he led Lakeridge to one state championship game and two semifinals while serving as a two-time team captain and earning all-TRL honors three times and all-state recognition twice.
McGinley also graduated with a 4.26 GPA and won his school's "Super Pacer" award, an honor given to students who strive for academic success, represent their class and Lakeridge positively, get involved in the Lakeridge community, lead by example and work to be the overall best and most outstanding.
For all those reasons and more, McGinley has been named the Lake Oswego Review's 2018-19 Athlete of the Year for Lakeridge High School. The Athlete of the Year honor is awarded annually to the top senior athlete at Lakeridge High School.
McGinley, 18, will continue his athletic career next year as a member of the Dartmouth University men's lacrosse team; McGinley plans to study economics or political science at Dartmouth, a member of the Ivy League.
McGinley's coaches — football coach Elvis Akpla and lacrosse coach Curt Sheinin — knew exactly why McGinley had so much success in the 2018-19 school year.
"Jackson is a passionate, hard-working, intelligent young man who is wise beyond his years," Akpla said. "He will represent himself well at Dartmouth."
"Jackson is a terrific young man who cared deeply about our team," Sheinin said. "Jackson's leadership this season was critical to our success. As the only returning starter on our defense and as a captain, his performance both on the field and off cannot be overstated."
McGinley, a 5-foot-9, 180-pound middle linebacker for the Pacers football team, was right at the center of Lakeridge's continuing return to prominence in the Three Rivers League.
As a junior, McGinley's Pacers snapped a 17-game Three Rivers League winless streak, reached the state playoffs for the first time since 2013, and at one point, put together three wins in four weeks in the always-tough TRL.
The 2019 season was even better, with the Pacers going 3-2 to tie for third in league play and finishing 7-4 overall. Lakeridge, the 11th-ranked Class 6A team in the state, also reached the second round of the state playoffs for the first time since 2014.
"Coach Elvis knows how to establish a winning culture," McGinley said. "It wasn't first about winning games, but setting up a disciplined culture. It was fun to see the culture begin to turn around."
McGinley — a selection to the 2018 all-TRL honorable mention team at linebacker — said that the first marker in the Pacers' turnaround was Lakeridge's dramatic 49-42 overtime win against Sherwood in his junior season.
"That was the turning point game," he said. "We used to be known as the team that would roll over and die, but we didn't. That was huge."
There were more signs of revival during McGinley's senior season. After going just 2-2 in their first four games, the Pacers got hot and strung together four straight wins, three of those in TRL play and one of them over perennial power Tigard.
"(Tigard was) a lot bigger than us, but we brought more intensity and tenacity," McGinley said. "Hands down, beating Tigard was the biggest win of the year. Nothing could compare to that game."
Dealing with bigger opponents — on an individual level as well as a team — was a challenge McGinley had to overcome throughout his football career. But overcome it he did, finishing his season as one of the Pacers' leading tacklers and unquestioned leaders.
"Playing middle linebacker at 180 in the Three Rivers League is not something you'd really expect me to do," he said. "We were undersized at every position but our guys would just go out there and ball out."
His efforts did not go unnoticed.
"Jackson was the heart and soul of our entire football team," Akpla said. "As the ultimate leader, he inspired his teammates and our staff to be the best versions of themselves."
Along the way, McGinley made memories that will last him a lifetime. Foremost in his mind was the experience of playing with running back Jalen John ("He'd run at safeties and they'd just get out of the way," McGinley said), the win over Tigard, and the contributions of Keoni Hepa, Ty Glumbik and Hunter Daskalos.
"This was the first team I'd ever been on where I got along together with almost every guy," he said. "The guys I played with were just so much fun."
The expectations for McGinley and the Pacers were even higher going into the 2019 lacrosse season. After all, Lakeridge had battled its way into the 2018 Oregon High School Lacrosse Association state championship game (the Pacers dropped a 7-5 decision to Oregon Episcopal School in the title contest) and brought back a handful of experienced all-league returners for 2019.
"We told ourselves that we were going to win (the 2019 state championship) from the end of the championship game last year," McGinley said. "I hung my (second-place) medal on my mirror so I'd see it every single day."
Sheinin, for one, knew he could count on McGinley's contributions in 2019.
"I strongly believe Jackson was the best defender in the state this season," Sheinin said. "He has all the tools — stick skills with both hands, athleticism, good footwork, excellent communication skills and a will to succeed."
That said, the Pacers had some challenges to overcome in 2019, starting with an almost completely revamped defense (McGinley was the team's only varsity returner on defense), a late-season injury to all-state faceoff Jack Savage, and most importantly, talented TRL foes Lake Oswego and West Linn.
"We only had one returning starter out of seven on defense," McGinley said. "The other guys had no varsity experience at all along with three freshmen. It was a ragtag group, but those guys were so good. Those guys stepped up and they were badasses. Everything came together and (goalie David Nyhus) was the glue."
But McGinley was right — the Pacers really did come together. They started the 2019 season with a 6-1 record, then bounced back from an overtime loss to OES to win seven of their next eight contests.
And even after Lakeridge dropped back-to-back games to the West Linn and Lake Oswego late in the TRL regular season, the Pacers took the state's top seed into the OHSLA playoffs and advanced all the way to the semifinals where they got another shot at Lake Oswego.
The semi looked very much like it would go the Pacers' way, too, as Lakeridge shut down the Lakers for the game's first three quarters and took a 9-3 edge into the final period. McGinley was right in the middle of that success, shutting down LO's Marshall McGuire until late in the third quarter and coming up with a season-high two goals of his own.
"It couldn't have gone better for me. I covered (McGuire) and he did nothing," McGinley said. "I love the big stage."
But the Lakers caught fire in the fourth quarter, ripped off eight unanswered goals and led 11-9 with just 30 seconds left to play.
"We came to the sideline after their last score and I said 'We have 30 seconds left. We're not dying. We're not done yet,'" McGinley recalled.
McGinley's words proved prophetic — the Pacers rallied for two goals in the game's final 27 seconds and forced the Lakers into overtime with a championship-game berth on the line. In the end, however, Lake Oswego escaped with a 12-11 victory and went on to win its first state title.
"It was nerve-wracking. There was such a flurry of emotions," McGinley said. "There was just one little falter, they got the ball and they got the game."
While his senior season didn't end the way McGinley wanted it to, he left with nothing but positive emotions and lasting memories.
"I'll remember blowing out (Lake Oswego on April 16) — that was big-time. That's something I'll remember forever, that and the overtime games (against OES and Lake Oswego)," McGinley said.
"And I'll definitely remember the kids," he adding mentioning freshman defenders Mason Slapper, J.D. Henninger, Ethan Bernhardt and Zac Waible. "They did it all this year, they all gained so much confidence and they were all better than I was as a freshman."
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