Kieran McDonagh likes to use the word ridiculous when he describes his linemen, or running back Parker Henry, or just about anything else regarding the Skyview football program.
That’s ridiculous, as in ridiculously good.
McDonagh, Skyview’s quarterback, will not say the same thing about himself, but others think he is pretty special.
“He’s a big, strong kid, and he has an added feature with his running ability,” Skyview coach Steve Kizer said. “He has every bit of an arm that Dodge had, plus he can run.”
Kizer was referring to Austin Dodge, who led the Storm to the Class 4A state semifinals in 2009 and now is airing it out at Southern Oregon University.
McDonagh has been offered a scholarship to Portland State, but he is keeping his college options open.
For now, all McDonagh is concerned about is leading the Storm.
He is hoping to have a magical night Friday at Kiggins Bowl as Skyview takes on Union for the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League championship.
“We’re trying to be the next team to win four in a row,” McDonagh said, noting that Evergreen won four consecutive league titles from 2002-05. “I think we can do it. We know we can do it.”
McDonagh also wants another deep run into the playoffs, matching or surpassing that of the 2009 team.
The first test for that challenge begins Friday against Union.
The Titans surely appreciate McDonagh’s ability. He threw three touchdown passes in last year’s title game, a 37-34 Skyview victory.
“You watch him play, and he’s one of those quarterbacks ... who makes the players around him better. He gets them the ball and gives them a chance to execute,” Union coach Cale Piland said. “I don’t mean this as a negative, but he’s a linebacker playing quarterback. He’s able to do things the typical quarterback isn’t physically able to do.”
Defenses find it difficult to bring down McDonagh, listed at 6-foot-2, 235 pounds. He appears to be 235 pounds of muscle, especially as he gets past the line of scrimmage and is heading into the defensive secondary, looking for someone to run over on his way to a first down.
Making things more difficult to defend the Storm is that McDonagh rarely is the first option to run. Henry has rushed for 1,363 yards through eight games.
“I don’t have to run much when Parker has 10 yards a carry,” McDonagh said, smiling, knowing he does not take the pounding that his running back endures every game.
McDonagh had a key run on a third-down play in Skyview’s comeback win over Columbia River last week. He has 200 yards on 36 carries with three touchdowns — proof that he can get it done on the ground when he is called.
But then, if defenses can slow Henry on the ground, if they can bring down McDonagh on the option play, the Storm can always go back to that arm.
McDonagh has thrown for 1,208 yards with 13 touchdowns and one interception. He missed one game and part of another with an ankle injury and has played barely more than one half in several blowout victories for the Storm.
Earlier this season, he threw a long touchdown pass that traveled almost 60 yards in the air and hit his receiver perfectly in stride.
“That was probably one of my best passes ever,” he allowed himself.
Not bad for someone who did not even start playing quarterback until his sophomore year at La Salle High School in Milwaukie, Ore. It was his freshman year when his coach, Mike Fanger, told McDonagh that he could be a college football player one day.
“He said, ‘You could have a future in this.’ I didn’t really believe him at the time,” McDonagh said.
But as a freshman, McDonagh made all-conference as a safety. Then he played quarterback and defense as a sophomore.
The high cost of private school, though, ended his time at La Salle. The Vancouver resident ended up at Skyview instead. He loves being part of the Storm.
“I feel like I belong to a tradition-rich program,” McDonagh said. “The whole school, they have lot of pride in their teams, all the sports.”
His size and ability have attracted looks from colleges.
“It’s hard. It’s a priority, but you push it aside,” he said of the recruiting process. “Our football team as a family is a little bit more important right now.”
McDonagh became the full-time starting QB at Skyview a few weeks into his junior season, then led the Storm to the first round of the state playoffs.
As soon as that season ended, he and Henry were named captains for the 2011 season.
“It was a great decision,” Kizer said. “We knew they both would be great senior leaders.”
Both were instrumental in Skyview’s victory over Columbia River. The Chieftains had taken a 29-28 lead with 1:29 remaining, which happens to be a significant number for the Storm.
“That’s one of our slogans, 129,” McDonagh said, noting it is 129 miles from Skyview to the Tacoma Dome, site of the state championship game. “We knew we were going to win then.”
Sure enough, Henry scored with 14 seconds left for the victory.
“I felt like it was a test, not just for me, but the whole team,” McDonagh said. “We all needed that. We kind of underestimated the teams we were playing because we had been on a roll. I think we needed that to get ready for this week.”
This particular week has been on the minds of every Union and Skyview football fan. They pretty much all knew it would come down to Week 9 for the title once again.
McDonagh said he has a lot of friends over at Union. He knows how hard they have been working, too.
In fact, he would probably go as far as to say that both teams are ridiculous. In a good way.
McDonagh just hopes the Storm are a little bit more ridiculous Friday night.