Monday, July 9, 2012

Linfield's Brad McKechnie: Still Ballin'


#29 Brad McKechnie (Linfield '05) is still slicing them up for the South Valley Vandals of the NNFL.
When Linfield fans reminisce about the ‘Cats 2004-2005 mind-boggling offense the first images that typically race in most people’s head are Brett Elliott dropping a dime to a streaking George Cater down the sideline, Casey Allen man-handling some poor defensive back on another trip to the end zone, or Brandon Hazenberg doing just about anything and everything for the ‘Cats offense.   What can get lost in that shuffle was the brilliant career of receiver Brad McKechnie.   

The Puyallup, Washington native (Rogers High School) stood 5’ 11” and was about as slick as an operator that you’ll find in navigating the middle of the oppositions defense.   Talk to guys that played with "Keck" and they’ll say he easily had the best hands on the team (that’s saying something), he had a running back’s vision in the open field, and owned a knack for making guys miss tackles.  While Elliott, Allen, Carter, and Hazenberg received much of the acclaim (rightfully so) those Linfield offenses wouldn’t have been at the level they reached without the key contribution from Brad McKechnie.  If you take a look at the numbers he piled up as a Wildcat, Keck has the numbers to claim that he’s one of the best receivers to slip on a Linfield jersey.

Career Receiving Yards: 1,899 (7th Linfield All-Time)
Career Receptions: 138 (4th Linfield All-Time)
Career Receiving TDs: 22 (Tied 4th Linfield All-Time)
Career All-Purpose Yards: 2,644 (13th Linfield All-Time)

I grabbed a few clips of Keck doing his thing for the 'Cats to refresh your memory:


While Keck and his close friends and teammates left their undeniable mark on Linfield, that didn’t mean the receiver hung up the cleats and moved on from the game of football, far from it.  Four years after moving on from the ‘Catdome, Keck settled down in Springfield, Oregon teaching Health and PE at Springfield High School.  Along with that, Keck assumed coaching duties with Springfield’s football and wrestling teams.  That's where he found out about an Oregon Nine-Man football league in the area (The National Nineman Football League “NNFL”).  With a football itch still to scratch, Keck reached out and has been scratching out championships and League MVP’s as a South Valley Vandal ever since. 

The NNFL is in their 12th year in existence and currently has 5 teams dotting their fledgling roster (Teams are located in Eugene (two), Corvallis, Albany, and Salem).  Keck isn’t too sure what the future holds for the NNFL but he knows there are a great group of people that will continue put out a viable product and play a competitive and fun brand of football.  I think Keck’s story is a great example of still pursuing your passions.  While Keck isn’t playing in front of a packed ‘Catdome crowd anymore, he still is playing a game he loves and fulfilling a competitive thirst and we should all be so lucky to pursue the things we love.

Q&A with Linfield's Brad McKechnie (Linfield '05)


(Wildcat11) Where are you living and where are you working?

(Brad McKecknie)  I live in Springfield, OR teaching health and PE at Springfield High School.  I coach football and wrestling also.

(WC11) When/how did you 1st get involved in playing after you were done at Linfield?

(Keck)  My first year coaching at Springfield another coach told me about this local football league and the team he plays on and I came out for a tryout and loved it.  Not too much money to play, not too much time/travel commitment compared to the 11 man league.  And obviously the feeling that I could still play at a high level.

(WC11) For those that haven't seen much 9-man football what's the biggest difference between the 9 and 11 man game?

(Keck)  The biggest difference for someone like me with some good 11 man experience, and a little bit of speed is just how much more open the field can get.  Special teams plays are some of the best plays I've made the last four years.  But for our team we just take out what you would call the tackles.  So our base offensive formation is center, two gaurds, a TE which plays the tackle spot basically, 2 backs, and 2 WR's.

(WC11) Do you run into other former small college players while playing in the NNFL?

(Keck)  Yes and No. Stan Fisher (Former ‘Cats All-Conference punter (Linfield ’06)) played for another team last year, so that was always fun to compete against him.  That same team had a guy that played at Western Oregon.  Some other teams have talented guys that could definitely play small college, but didn’t for whatever reason.   Each team has there 3 or 4 guys that are fun to compete against, and who I have actually become friends with just through competition.  I have tried to get some of my Linfield friends/teammates to come out and play in the league but they have no interest.  Ha!

(WC11) This is your 4th year playing post-college.  Why do you continue to play?  Also, how much longer do you see yourself playing and how do you think you've changed as a player since your time at Linfield?

(Keck)  Just finished my 4th year, and I'm looking to play until my body says okay enough, but the body still feels good, and honestly that is probably one of the biggest differences in the way I play.  I know how to conserve energy a lot better. I know not to go sticking my face where it doesn't belong, like I did at Linfield.  Any 'Cats know there is only one way of playing for the Wildcats and that's balls to the wall, every play!!  I still play hard, but I just let the game come to me now.

(WC11) Are you still tight with the guys you played with at Linfield and as you get further away from College and reflect back what stands out to you the most about being a Linfield Wildcat football player?

(Keck) Yeah my Linfield buddies/teammates aren't going anywhere.  I will be friends with that crew for a long time to come.  A bunch of us just got together the other weekend for a Bachelor Party in Bend, and I swear I haven't laughed that hard in a long time!  That type of stuff is exactly what sticks out at me about my experience at Linfield.  Obviously the football was unbelievable, but for me, it was the interactions of the group of about 20 or so of us that hung out all the time.  Beyond that, the atmosphere at Linfield around the fall is awesome!!  The coaching staff I will forever be influenced by.   Coaches Locey and Smith are two guys that shaped who I am tremendously and I know I am not even close to the only one who feels that way!

(WC11) If you could give a piece of advice to an incoming Freshman Wildcat player and to a Senior, what would you tell them?

(Keck)  Well for a freshman, I would just say stay patient and learn as much as you can as quickly as you can.  And realize that while you may not make the travel squad now but what you do on Tues, Wed, and Thursdays matter!!  With my Freshman and Sophomore years, I looked at those days on scout team like my game days.  Then when I was a starter it was so easy to say "These guys cannot hang with me because I have already gone against the toughest defenses that I will ever face."

As for the current Seniors, no matter where you are on the depth chart, enjoy every single minute that you are doing Linfield football stuff!!!  Play every play like your last, this season will fly by for you and if you don't stop every now and truly enjoy what you’re doing,  you’ll regret it.  My senior year, I loved coming to practices, meetings, and games…everything.  Find a way to enjoy it all. 

(WC11) For guys that have wrapped up their college playing days but are still looking to play what would be the best way to get in touch with the NNFL?

(Keck)  Well, it’s a spring league and practices usually start around Feb/March, so the best thing is checkout the website nineman.com see what teams are near you, beyond that though the actual signing up for the league happens on the website Maximussports.com.  If you’re in the Eugene area, get in touch with me!  But checkout those sites around Nov/Dec, and a lot of times there are a couple of combines for guys to run through and meet some coaches.

To wrap up, I truthfully didn't know what to expect getting in to the league, but I couldn't be happier with the team I found.   The Vandals have been successful the last couple years is because we have talent.  But the other thing is this core group of about 10-12 guys that have been playing so long together now that we just know how to adjust and always play together and with class, very similar to what I experienced at Linfield, just on a much smaller scale.

Brad McKechnie’s NNFL Honors:

2009- Team Champions/All-league WR/ Championship game MVP.
2010-Team Champions/All-league WR/ League MVP.
2011-Team Champions/All-league WR/ League and Championship game MVP.
2012-Team Champions/All league WR/Championship Game MVP

NNFL 2011 Title Game Video
NNFL 2012 Title Game Slideshow
South Valley Vandals Facebook Page
NNFL Home Page: NINEMAN.COM
NNFL Sign Up Page: Maximussports.com

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Keck still going strong, and no surprise. Also want to say congrats on the new addition to the McKechnie legacy!

Army