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By Dave Ball  

Former Lincoln quarterback Connor Kavanaugh knows a little something about rolling up big numbers, whether that is on the football field or in an investor’s bank account.

Kavanaugh ranks in the top-10 all-time among Oregon big-school quarterbacks with 6,821 career passing yards, and as a senior he beat Benson with seven touchdown passes in a single night. He is quick to credit a talented receiving corps that included Elvis Akpla, an all-Big Sky performer at Montana State, and Jordan Polk, a starter at the University of Washington.

“It was all about throwing the ball on time and letting our receivers make good things happen,” Kavanaugh said. “We had really good wide receivers, and our coach (Chad Carlson) was doing things on the offensive side that people thought were a little bit funky at the time, but now you see it everywhere.”

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Kavanaugh stamped his time at Lincoln during his junior year (2005) with an undefeated regular season and a surprise run through the playoffs.

“It was exciting to see the way the city got behind us,” Kavanaugh said. “We had thousands and thousands of people turn out when we played Grant for the city championship.”

The journey appeared to be in jeopardy during that year’s semifinals — a soggy game on the turf at then-PGE Park just a couple of blocks from the Lincoln campus.

“It was downpouring the entire game with puddles all over the field,” Kavanaugh said. “Cold weather and wet hands are not a good combination for a quarterback, and it showed in the score.” 

Each team would make only one trip over the goal line that day, but a 50-yard Kavanaugh-to-Akpla bomb in the third quarter would prove to be the decisive points in Lincoln’s 7-6 win over Lake Oswego.

“I dropped back and threw it as far as I could throw it,” Kavanaugh said.

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The next week, the Cardinals were on the verge of completing their fairy-tale season, leading Jesuit 10-7 in the championship game only to have a blocked punt set up the Crusaders for the winning score in the final minutes.

But Lincoln wasn’t going to go down quietly. The Cardinals picked up a couple of first downs and the clock dipped under a minute to play.

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Kavanaugh remembers his final throw that season as if it happened yesterday.

“We are down to 50 seconds left, and it’s fourth-and-long from our own 30, we send Jordan on a go route, and the defensive back fell down,” he said. “I launched the ball and it went just off Jordan’s fingertips. If we connect on that, there is no one in the state who was going to catch him.”

Jesuit won the title with a 14-10 victory. 

That Lincoln squad remains the most recent Portland Public School to play for the title.

“People were picking us to be second or third in the PIL and we went all the way to the state title game — experiences like that bring guys together,” Kavanaugh said. “High school football means a lot to me — some of my closest friends have come from football and all of those summers spent throwing a ball around.”

In 2020, Kavanaugh and about 40 other Cardinals football alums showed up for Lincoln’s final home game before the city campus underwent a reconstruction.

“There is something very sentimental about high school football. I cherished every moment, and I still wish I could go back and do it again,” Kavanaugh said. “The season seems long when you are in it, but life goes quick. It’s taught me to maximize and cherish every opportunity that comes along.”

Kavanaugh went on to play at Portland State University, guiding the Vikings to a 7-4 record his final season, surpassing 1,000 yards rushing and 1,500 yards passing as the starting quarterback.

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“College was a different level of work — it taught me tenacity,” Kavanaugh said. “Always be the first one into the film room and the last one out and things will work out. I take that into life now.”

Kavanaugh works in the financial world, starting up Palladio Consulting, which guides families affected by special needs.

“There was this huge need that nobody was addressing. It’s a vastly underserved community, and I heard so many stories and I wanted to do better for them,” he said. “We deal with all of the nuances that go into that type of planning, whether that involves medical expenses or trust funds for the future.” 

Kavanaugh named his business after 16th-century Italian architect Andrea Palladio, who was renowned for bringing elegance to overlooked buildings. His company has worked with more than 4,000 families across 12 states.

He is celebrating eight years of marriage to Lexi (Bishop), a former basketball player at Portland State. They have a 3-year-old daughter Dolly, a 1-year-old son Palmer and another child expected this fall. They reside in Bend and enjoy an active outdoor lifestyle that includes boating, bike rides and plenty of golf. 

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