By Jeremy McDonald
MT. ANGEL, Ore.– It’s not too often that you’ll make a statement in sports, but Kennedy’s Dylan Kleinschmit had done it twice.
As a sophomore Kleinschmit pitched a gem against rival Santiam. Throwing a no-hit, 17-strikeout gem that was part of an incredible journey to the 2A/1A State Finals before falling to Umpqua Valley Christian/Melrose Christian in extra innings that year.
It was a close second for the now-Kennedy Senior to his Junior year statement in Football.
“My favorite all time moment was beating Monroe. But a very close runner up was throwing a 17 strikeout no hitter vs Santiam. Beating Monroe because it was just a crazy game and an unforgettable moment. Throwing the no hitter because not many people strike out 17 guys in a game,” described Kleinschmit, who also catches for the Trojan baseball team.
As The Kennedy QB1, their starting quarterback, he started all of his freshman and junior years at the position plus four games his sophomore year. But it was a second and ten play that possibly put an exclamation point to their underdog year his Junior year, striking Brady Traeger for 25 yards for the go-ahead strike with 41 seconds left.
The touchdown put Kennedy ahead of Zach Young’s Monroe squad 15-12 and had put the Trojans into their second-straight State Championship Game.
“Throwing that game winning TD pass made me feel so good. It was like a huge weight got lifted off my shoulders. Brady ran a great route and broke a few tackles for the score. It was the greatest moment I’ve been a part of. That is also something nobody who watched or listened to the game will forget.” Kleinschmit starts. “They had safety help over Bruce Beyer and Brady is bigger than every corner in 2A so I knew Brady would be open.”
Playing at Kennedy as it’s pressures. Both guys and girls’ sports are always in the playoff talks and proved in every game they are not going to back-down from a fight. But even with those high expectations to perform, the coaches at Kennedy will always make sure you are prepared for those pressure-cooker situations that it has helped for someone like a Kleinschmit in his development as an athlete.
“The coaches pushed me hard and made me a lot better. The coaches tell us their expectations and they push us to meet it. Thankfully we have met their expectations for the years that I’ve been in high school,” said Kleinschmit. “The coaches pushed, they made it easier for me to deal with the pressure because I was just better. It’s awesome to have coaches who know how to push you in the right way and who make me work on my weaknesses In practice so I am better in games.”
Kleinschmit admits that the Monroe game was his worst game of his season, but how the Kennedy Machine was built with high expectations, they also back each other up.
“Before our last drive all the guys on the sideline we’re telling me that I can do it and we’re going to win,” he said. “We all knew we were good enough to go back-to-back but because people doubted us it made us work harder and we had motivation to get better and win every game to make those people notice that we were good enough to go back-to-back.”
Even though they lost to Heppner in the Championship Game in Hillsboro a week later, the memories still remain as he and his fellow teammates await to see what comes of their Senior season at JFK.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald