Lake Oswego line, Casey Filkins persevere through stretch run
Let's be honest.
The Lake Oswego football team wasn't exactly hiding the ball on offense.
As the Lakers came down the stretch of their 2019 season, the game plan pretty much looked like this — Casey Filkins left, Casey Filkins right and Casey Filkins up the middle.
And when those options didn't work, Lake Oswego would sometimes call on Casey Filkins to run the ball.
While that's obviously an overstatement, it does drive home the point that the Lakers' offense was only going to go as far as Filkins and his talented offensive line could take it.
Despite that, Lake Oswego — which went to Filkins as its de facto quarterback following an Oct. 25 loss to Tualatin — went very, very far in 2019.
Following their loss to the Timberwolves, the Lakers' offense employed Filkins out of the Wildcat formation almost exclusively over the team's final six games, winning five of those contests against some of the best teams in the state.
While Filkins' attributes have been widely hailed — he's the reigning Oregon Offensive Player of the Year, the recently crowned Oregon Gatorade Player of the Year and two-time Special District 5 Player of the Year — he wasn't going to go anywhere without his offensive line.
That group was led by senior tackle Tiger Shanks (he was the Three River League Offensive Lineman of the Year), senior guard Cody Carlson (he was injured late in the year), junior guard Bailey Jaramillo, senior tackle Niko Smith, senior guard Carson Bass, sophomore center Austin Leykam, sophomore guard Gavin McGuire, senior tight end Marshall McGuire, and junior tight ends Hayden Kavanaugh, Nathan Knox and Calvin Heimbegner.
"Our line has done a great job of getting better every single week and they had a great game today," Filkins said after the championship. "It just goes to show that coach Chris Hubley and all those guys put in so much work this year, and even when there was a lot of insecurity about what we were doing on offense, they just didn't complain about it and kept getting better every week."
For their part, the Lakers' linemen appreciated Filkins for his own hard work and all the success they achieved together.
"Casey's my brother," Shanks said. "He's probably the best player to ever do it (at Lake Oswego). We're just grateful to have him."
"Sometimes you're blocking and you turn around just for a second and see him zip by," Smith said. "That's something we're all going to miss."
And down the stretch, in the team's final six games — the regular-season finale against Lakeridge and LO's five playoff games — Filkins and the Lakers' "O" line were at their unequivocal best. And they were at their best despite the fact that the Lakers had transformed into primarily a run-only team.
During that stretch, Lake Oswego faced No. 22 Lakeridge — a team that upset both No. 11 Beaverton and No. 6 Aloha — twice, along with No. 30 Grants Pass, No. 19 West Salem, No. 2 Jesuit and No. 4 Central Catholic.
LO's powerful line and Filkins didn't disappoint, amassing 1,343 yards and 22 touchdowns in the season's final 37 days, with Filkins averaging 223 yards per game and being held under 200 yards just once (he went for 133 yards in the Lakers' 28-21 semifinal win over Jesuit, a game that saw Filkins throw for 225 yards and a touchdown).
"At the end of the season, we had some tough injuries, guys banged up, some starters, but that's just how it is," Marshall McGuire said. "We've gone through a lot of adversity this year, people switching positions, not knowing on offense where we wanted to go, but I think we just bought in and we had good players all over the board."
"I can't even give (the line) enough credit for my success," Filkins added. "What I did these past few years is all because of them making plays for me."
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