Featuring 2018-2019 winner Casey Filkins and five all-state linebackers
The first of 13 Oregon Sports Awards prep award preseason watch lists to be featured throughout the 2019-2020 academic year.
We begin with football, highlighting 15 of the state’s top upperclassmen players and others to watch closely.
This list intends to serve as a helpful guide for the Oregon Sports Awards team and media partners in identifying possible nominees throughout the fall. Members of the OSAA, along with coaches and athletic directors, can also submit nomination requests during the season.
10 players spanning all OSAA classifications will be nominated for the Prep Football Player of the Year award following the 6A Championship on Dec. 7. Members of the OSAA and Sport Oregon staffs, along with select media members will then vote on a winner and two additional finalists.
The watch list, beginning with the 2018-2019 Prep Football Player of the Year:
School: Lake Oswego
College commitment: Cal
2018 season in review: Implausible to not begin the list without featuring the 2018-2019 recipient of this award. Filkins did everything on offense for Lake Oswego, guiding the Lakers to their first state title since 2011. He totaled 2,026 yards and 37 scores (28 rushing, 9 receiving) and accounted for all five of the Lakers’ touchdowns in their 34-27 win over Sheldon in the 6A title game.
2019 forecast: Filkins has a chance to again shine as a “Swiss Army Knife” offensive weapon for the Lakers, who face a loaded schedule. Lake Oswego draws Lakeridge, Tigard, Tualatin and West Linn in league play and gets Jesuit and Clackamas – both home games – in nonconference affairs. Lake Oswego’s bid to defend the 6A crown begins with another multidimensional year from Filkins, who will be firmly in the national spotlight come January when he travels to San Antonio to participate in the Adidas All-American Bowl.
College commitment: Cal
2018 season in review: Earned second team all-state honors on both sides of the ball and was bumped up to a four-star class of 2020 recruit by 247Sports in the spring. Helped Jesuit extend its run of Metro League Championships and advance to the 6A quarterfinals.
2019 forecast: The best overall athlete on a Jesuit team that should again be playing deep into the postseason. Alfieri is the consensus No. 1 overall class of 2020 recruit in Oregon and is squarely on the shortlist of candidates to claim 6A Defensive Player of the Year honors. He participated in the NFL and Pro Football Hall of Fame All American Academy in Canton, Ohio I July, earning him automatic nomination on the 2019-2020 award ballot.
2018 season in review: The 6-1, 220-pounder posted video game numbers for the Warriors. Brown finished with 108 total tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 5 sacks and 4 interceptions. He also filled in at running back for six games, rushing for 9 touchdowns and 652 yards on 42 carries (15.5 yards per carry). Brown then took to the national recruiting stage during the offseason, attending the Rivals Five-Star Challenge, Northwest Showcase and other satellite camps.
2019 forecast: Brown is flying high on the recruiting radar, having picked up his first SEC offer from Tennessee on Aug. 17 and with more than a dozen offers in tow. He’s a consensus four-star recruit and 247Sports ranks Brown as the No. 2 inside linebacker prospect nationally. Brown is a back-to-back runner-up finisher at the 5A Wrestling Championships, which usually translates well to the gridiron. Brown has a real shot to win this award should he pair a robust 2019 stat line and deep playoff run for Lebanon with his participation in national recruiting showcases and camps.
2018 season in review: He missed most of his sophomore and junior seasons for Westlake High in Thousand Oaks, California, with injuries. At 6-7, 237 pounds, Figgins gave a verbal commitment to the Ducks over a king’s ransom list of Power Five schools, including USC, Nebraska and Texas. 247Sports ranks Figgins as the No. 12 overall class of 2020 tight end prospect.
2019 forecast: Figgins moved to Eugene and enrolled at Sheldon in August, where he’ll follow in the footsteps of fellow Irish-turned-Duck tight end Patrick Herbert, who was nominated for this award last season. The Irish have advanced to 19 of the last 20 6A quarterfinals, giving Figgins a chance to play a full season and past Thanksgiving and become Sheldon’s latest Division I caliber offensive weapon.
2018 season in review: Helped the Pacers notch their first playoff victory since 2013, rushing for 1,846 yards and 23 touchdowns and averaging 8.9 yards per carry. Notched all-conference honors and was named to the 6A honorable mention offensive team. Is listed as the No. 6 overall class of 2020 recruit in Oregon by 247Sports.
2019 forecast: John can challenge Filkins for Three Rivers League and 6A Offensive Player of the Year honors. Elvis Akpla announced his resignation as Lakeridge’s head coach on July 31, leaving the Pacers in a flux just weeks before official practices commenced. Should John guide Lakeridge to its second consecutive top-four finish in Three Rivers League play and playoff run, he’ll have as good a shot to win this award as any other nominee.
2018 season in review: Helped the Cavaliers post a 12-1 overall record and advance to the 6A semifinals in what proved to be coach Joe Bushman’s final year at the helm. Kennewell garnered all-state first team honors as a wide receiver, hauling in 32 passes for 753 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also registered 12 total tackles and 4 sacks – second on the team to 6A Defensive Player of the Year Justice Pagan – and had 2 interceptions.
2019 forecast: Kennewell (6-3, 200) is a big target at outside receiver and a player first-year head coach Terry Drake Sr. will lean on on both sides of the ball. He’s talented enough to earn all-conference and all-state honors as both an offensive and defensive player. Kennewell skyrocketed up the recruiting boards after a strong showing at the Last Vegas Pylon 7-on-7 Tournament this spring and is listed as a 247Sports three-star recruit.
Commitment: Montana State
2018 season in review: Co-Three Rivers League Defensive Player of the Year and runner-up to Pagan in the 6A Defensive Player of the Year vote. Lenzy led the state with 10 interceptions and caught 32 passes for 518 yards and 4 touchdowns. Paced Tigard to a Three Rivers League second-place finish and 6A quarterfinals berth in Craig Ruecker’s final season as a head coach.
2019 forecast: Lenzy was once listed as a four-star prospect who held scholarship offers from Oregon and Oregon State. Coaching changes at both schools made the offers no longer committable, but Lenzy landed several FCS offers and decided on Montana State in July. He has a chance to claim 6A Defensive Player of the Year honors and prove himself as arguably the biggest get for Bobcats head coach Jeff Choate in the class of 2020 recruiting cycle.
2018 season in review: Line served as the backup to Michael Johnson Jr., the 2018-2019 Prep Football Player of the Year runner-up. But the Irish almost certainly don’t sniff the 6A title game without him. Line, the son of now-third-year head coach Josh Line, relieved an injured Johnson midway through third quarter of the Irish’s semifinal game against Clackamas and with the game tied. He wound up completing 4-of-4 passes for 57 yards and scampering for 44 more to engineer three scoring drives and stake Sheldon to a 35-14 win. Line also started the first two games of the season for the Irish, helping Sheldon rack up 50 points against Graham Kaposwin High (WA) and defeat eventual 5A champion Thurston 58-7.
2019 forecast: The starting job is squarely his with Johnson off to continue his football career at Penn State. Line has ample support and weapons around him with Figgins in the fold plus four starting offensive linemen returning, He’s primed to put up gaudy offensive figures and can manifest himself as a face of one of the state’s top 6A title contenders.
School: South Salem
2018 season in review: Was a first team all-conference selection for 2A Kennedy as both a running back and defensive back. Finished with 23 total touchdowns and 1,579 rushing yards to lead the Trojans to a 2A State Championship. Lynk tore his ACL and MCL in the contest, though, and is still rehabbing as he prepares to enroll at South Salem for his senior campaign.
2019 forecast: Perhaps the biggest wild card on this list. Lynk said he is unsure of when he’ll be cleared to resume full football activities but should provide an instant boost to a Saxons squad that finished the 2018 season with a 2-7 record and missed the playoffs. At 6-3, 225 pounds, Lynk has an opportunity to boost his recruiting stock. He’s spoken with nearly 20 Division I schools, including Washington, UCLA, Oregon State, Portland State and Eastern Washington, but has yet to pick up a scholarship offer. That may change rapidly with solid showings against 6A competition.
Commitment: Oregon State
2018 season in review: Shared Co-Three Rivers League Defensive Player of the Year honors with Lenzy after totaling 87 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries. Miller gave a verbal commitment to the Beavers in December and after leading the Timberwolves to a 7-4 overall record and first playoff win since 2015. Miller established himself as a three-star recruit and both ESPN and 247Sports rank Miller among the top-five class of 2020 recruits in Oregon.
2019 forecast: Easily one of the top contenders to claim 6A Defensive Player of the Year honors. Miller holds immense value to the Timberwolves as a two-way player, having excelled in stretches in 2018 out of the backfield. His impact, and contention for all-state accolades and this award, will steadily grow as he continues to improve.
School: Valley Catholic
2018 season in review: Definitely an under the radar talent. Baseball is arguably Pruitt’s best sport – Baseball Northwest lists him among the state’s top-20 class of 2020 recruits – and he suited up for a Valiants squad that finished 2-6 and missed the postseason. That said, Pruitt (6-2, 200) is a tremendous athlete, evidenced by his dunking prowess for the Valiants’ basketball team, and is regarded as one of the top quarterback prospects in the state. He earned his first scholarship offer from Western Oregon in June and has received recruiting interest from Oregon State.
2019 forecast: Let’s see if Valley Catholic and Pruitt can put it all together in a Cowapa League that boasts defending 4A champion Banks and runner-up Seaside. Pruitt is skilled enough to put up numbers worthy of conference player of the year and all-state team mentions. An intriguing 4A case study but one that’s loaded with potential.
2018 season in review: Earned first team all-state honors as both a left tackle and defensive end. Helped the Colts capture the 5A state championship. Starck (6-5, 280) committed to Nevada in June over offers from Idaho and Southern /Oregon and recruiting interest from Oregon State and Portland State.
2019 forecast: Starck is the highest-graded offensive lineman in the state given his size, 2018 production and a three-star composite grade assessed by 247Sports. Offensive line play often plays second fiddle to other position groups in media coverage and spotlight, but it would be remiss to publish this list without including Starck’s name. He’ll have ample opportunity to shine and play meaningful football for a Thurston squad that again looks the part of a 5A contender.
School: Central Catholic
2018 season in review: 6A first team offense selection and earned his second set of first team all-league honors. Starr caught 55 passes for 1,053 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Rams, who made an appearance in the 6A quarterfinals. Starr frequently lined up on the left side of the hash marks and did the majority of his damage on posts and routes and in the flat.
2019 forecast: Starr is a member of a loaded Central Catholic receiving corps. He gave his verbal commitment to the Cardinal in June and is as skilled as any outside receiver in the state. Count him on the shortlist of preseason candidates for Mt. Hood Conference Offensive Player of the Year. Robust receiving totals and a deep run in the postseason by the Rams could have Starr on the precipice of even more grandiose prep football hardware come December.
2018 season in review: Jones played in only six games for the Lancers after moving from Alabama, but immediately made his presence felt. He averaged over 200 rushing yards per game and 14.7 yards per catch and had 20 total offensive touchdowns. Churchill earned the No. 2 overall seed in the 5A playoffs. 247Sports gave him a three-start recruiting grade and he picked up early scholarship offers from Utah State and Portland State.
2019 forecast: He has perhaps as big of an upside as any class of 2020 running back in Oregon. A full season of Jones cements Churchill as a legitimate favorite to win a state championship could fuel the Lancers to the top overall seed in the 5A playoffs come November. A big year can propel Jones into consideration among the state’s elite offensive and up recruiting boards.
Commitment: Oregon State
2018 season in review: The driving force behind one of the best feel-good stories of the season. Walling helped the Celtics win the Mountain Valley Conference after starting the season 0-5. He earned all-conference honors as both a running back and linebacker. Walling totaled 79 tackles and five sacks and ran for 951 yards and 11 scores. He gave a verbal commitment to Oregon State in June and is rated as the No. 17 overall inside linebacker nationally by 247Sports.
2019 forecast: McNary likely goes as far as Walling takes them. Having made 31 consecutive starts for the Celtics and amassed 175 total tackles since his sophomore year, Walling’s production is on par with that of fellow backers Brown and Miller’s. 90-plus tackles and another step forward by McNary puts Walling (6-2, 220) in serious contention for prestigious prep football hardware.
Others to keep an eye on: Blake Warner (OL, Mountain View), Darik Salinas (QB, Southridge), Sandrey Mitberg (DE/OLB, Beaverton), Nick Haynes (WR/DB, Reynolds), Thomas Dukart (S, Lake Oswego), Dyontae Navarrete (ATH, Woodburn), Elijah Elliott (CB/ATH, Central Catholic), Casey Tawa (WR/DB, West Linn), Marquis Brown (CB, Liberty), Ryan Seth (DT, West Linn), Bryce Boettcher (QB/SS, South Eugene)
Next up: Boys/Girls cross country (Aug. 23)