Keegan Kemp heads into this weekend with one goal: beat Jefferson High School in the 3A District playoffs. Eastlake's senior quarterback is an essential piece to the team's success on offense, leading the team to an 8-1 record and a No. 3 overall ranking in the 3A classification. Kemp has thrown for over 1200 yards and rushed for over 400 yards with 10 touchdown passes and nine touchdown runs.
What's the team's mindset like entering your first state district playoff game against Jefferson?
The mindset is that if we lose, our season is over. There are no second chances. This game is the most important one of the season because of that. We want to stay together as a team for as long as we can and we are preparing our hardest to come out and get the win. We have spent extra time watching film and our practices have been longer this week than any other because of the importance of this game.
You nervous at all?
No, not at all. For some reason I never get nervous going into games. I enjoy football so much that I just get really excited instead. And speaking for the team, I feel like we are all just excited and pumped to get to play another game and get the bad taste in our mouths out from last week's loss.
What's been the No. 1 highlight of your season so far?
I'd have to say just getting to play football with a great group of guys and coaches. We've got a super tight knit team this year and it's a great feeling getting to practice every week and play on Fridays with them. But a close second would be our big wins over Issaquah and Skyline.
You attend Bellevue Christian, but you've played for Eastlake for four years. Is that weird for you at all?
Well I've grown up playing in the Eastlake youth system. I started when I was in 2nd grade. So I've made a bunch of friends at Eastlake and it wasn't weird transitioning to the high school level. All of my BCS friends have supported me as well and I'm grateful for that.
is there a former or current NCAA or NFL QB you've always modeled your game after?
No not really. I'd like to say Drew Brees because we are both undersized but that's about the only thing we have in common. I like to scramble when plays break down.
What has been the key to your individual success this season?
Probably the great cast of players I have around me. Our offensive line is big and strong and does a great job blocking. Our running back, Ryan Lewis, is having and unbelievable year rushing which makes it easy for me to make plays when defenses key on him. And my receivers all have great hands and get yards after catch.
Do you plan on playing at the next level?
Yes. I'm getting recruited by some smaller D3 schools with great academics. I'm looking for not just the biggest school I could play at but a quality education as well so those schools all fit the bill.
What schools are in the mix right now?
Wheaton College in Illinois. Bethel University in Minnesota. And Whitworth University here in Washington.
Do you have any pre-game rituals or superstitions?
My mom always makes me a turkey sandwich for a pre-game meal. Two slices of bread and a bunch of turkey. Just turkey.
Before the game, my iPod is on....
My iPod is off. I get pumped just knowing I'm gonna be out on the field soon. I like to talk to all my guys before the game and keep everbody loose. Maybe crack a few jokes.
If I wasn't playing football I'd be...
Can't make me answer that! I love football too much. But I'll go with watching football.
Any final shout-outs?
Thanks to my teamates, coaches, and my wonderful parents for their support.
Read our past Q & A's with the state's top football players: RB Cody Taylor (Hazen HS), DL Zaheer Webb (Lakes HS), OL Nathan Dean (Juanita HS), WR Michael Rector (Bellarmine Prep), DB Tere Calloway (Seattle Prep), QB Austin Lee (Sammamish HS), QB Brian Marty (Meadowdale HS), RB Tatum Taylor (O'Dea), RB Danny Welstad (Peninsula HS)