The Linfield College football program bid farewell to its graduating seniors this week, including a former all-state first-teamer for Canby High School.
As a Cougar, Tony Kraus was a three-time all-Three Rivers League first-teamer at defensive end and twice as a tight end, and was also named all-state on both sides of the ball.
At Linfield, he was named an All-Northwest Conference defensive end two years running, including a first-team award last year, after leading the Wildcats in sacks (8.0). He graduates with 17 career sacks, good for No. 18 on the McMinnville college’s all-time list, along with 76 tackles, one forced fumble and three fumble recoveries.
Tony Kraus garnered all-Northwest Conference each of the last two seasons and his 17 sacks are 18th all-time in program history! #RollCats #FeedTheStreak #d3fb 📰: https://t.co/tB7kpKAWfA
In the final game of his junior season against Pacific University, he had five tackles and three sacks. He calls that game his best as a Wildcat.
“We had a potential playoff berth on the line, and it was our last game of the season,” Kraus said. “I felt like I found my groove. I played pretty free that day. Looking back, it was one of those moments that I put a lot of what I had learned the three years prior into play.”
“Tony was a pivotal player for us on the defensive line for his entire career here at Linfield,” said head football coach Joseph Smith. “We worked very hard to get him here four years ago, and he certainly did not disappoint.”
Kraus’ hard-hitting style, no doubt honed by four years at Cougar Stadium, was a nice fit with the Wildcats.
“Tony was so very physical,” said Smith. “It was fun to watch him dominate potential blockers. He battled injury throughout most of his career which further impressed our staff, as he never complained.”
In their final games as Wildcats, the senior class took on Chapman in the first round of the NCAA Division III playoffs. The game went into three overtimes before the Panthers ultimately prevailed 68-65 in an instant classic battle between the top two teams on the West Coast.
Kraus said it is a contest he will never forget.
“This game was a unique learning experience for myself as an individual and as a team,” he said. “It taught me that sometimes in sport, and in life, you don’t always achieve what you thought and believed you were going to; however, the adversity present in that game re-solidified that failure is a critical element of growth. The lesson learned is that in life adversity will hit, but it is how you continue to improve and see the positives within the low moments.”
Kraus is a management major at Linfield and plans to work as a firefighter after graduation.
“Tony is a worker and is a tremendous team-oriented man who you can completely depend upon,” Smith said. “He is low ego, yet high output. There is no question he will do well in firefighting.”
Photo courtesy Linfield Sports Information.
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