Valley Catholics three-sport star Carter Buuck shines on gridiron, diamond, and hardwood

There’s almost an impending, inescapable sense of doom every time Carter Buuck takes the baseball and trots to the mound.

Opponents know what’s coming from the Valley Catholic pitcher once he toes the rubber. They’re aware of Buuck’s prowess, his tenaciousness on the hill and nasty assortment of left-handed pitches. And, they still can’t stop it.

It’s a sensation the Dayton Bulldogs experienced first-hand in the first round of the 3A state playoffs in the spring, one they might be telling their kids about someday.

Up 5-2 against the Valiants, Dayton let their lead slip away in the rain as Valley Catholic scored five unanswered runs to go up 7-5 going into the fifth.

In came Buuck, who normally starts, but on this day he entered in relief of Nick Quandt. Almost immediately, one could see Dayton’s heads collectively drop in the dugout while the Valiants. There was nothing the Bulldogs could do. Buuck grabbed them by the throat and he hadn’t even thrown a pitch yet.

Three quick as lightning innings later, Buuck had struck out seven Bulldogs and sent the Valiants to the 3A quarterfinals with a 7-5 win.

“It’s funny, we had a couple situations this year where we scored four or five runs and Carter was pitching and you could feel our guys start to relax, like ‘the game’s over, Carter’s pitching,” said Valiant head coach Pat Thomas. by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Valley Catholic senior Carter Buuck excels in baseball, football and basketball for the Valiants.

Quiet confidence

Buuck has the full weaponry of pitches: an overpowering fastball, a change-up and curveball that allows him to change speeds effectively. What sets Buuck apart in Thomas’ eyes, though, is a certain self-belief that Buuck displayed even as a freshman when he was throwing 10-12 M.P.H. slower. Buuck’s best hallmark is his undeviating sureness on the mound. San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey could be standing at the dish and Buuck firmly believes he has the stuff to get him out. It’s not a brash confidence at all but more of low-key mettle that Buuck exudes as the Valiants’ ace.

“When I’m pitching my best, it’s almost an unstoppable feeling,” said Buuck. “When I’m really on top of my stuff, I feel like I can get a batter out with any pitch so I’m comfortable throwing anything in any count. I try to never let anything affect me. Success can always make you feel like a better player and once you start thriving, you feel like nothing can stop you.”

Thomas said Buuck is an outstanding leader, probably the best he’s had in his four years as Valley Catholic’s head baseball coach. Buuck was voted team captain as a sophomore by his colleagues and will be one of the rare three-year captains as a senior. He’s an equal opportunity captain too, who treats every teammate fairly whether they’re an incoming freshman or all-league returner. Buuck’s a jovial kid who likes to keep things light and the team loose.

However, when the lights come on and it’s game time, Thomas said there’s almost an invisible switch that Buuck flips. Buuck goes into full competitive mode, dipping into a super-focused zone that’s a big reason why the first-team all-state selection was so impelling and successful this season.

“He’ll take the team on his back and do whatever he can to win,” said Valiant second baseman Liam Walsh. “He likes to joke around but when it’s time to play, it’s time to play. He’s a real competitor.”

“He’s really gets after it,” added catcher Liam Meagher. “We give him a little bit of cushion and he takes the rest of the way. He always gives it his heart when he’s playing.”

Thomas believes Buuck has the potential to be a Division One thrower because of his array of pitches, other than the mid 80’s fastball. When Buuck was playing Little League, he wasn’t the 6’1”, 160-pound 12-year-old blowing heat by kids half his size. Thomas said because Buuck wasn’t big, he learned to pitch, how to spot, control, change speeds an early age. Now, at age 17, Buuck’s physical maturity has caught up to pitching knowledge, creating a 3A titan who’s getting looks from D1 schools.

“He believes he’s going to be the best player on the field, and dominate the game,” said Thomas. “He came in with a really strong belief in himself and a desire to compete no matter what. It doesn’t what goes in a game, he’s going to compete until he’s done. He always believes he’s going to get the next guy out which is why he never wants to come out of games.”

Staying true to Valley

Buuck comes from a rich athletic stock that goes back three generations. He attributes his stellar sporting traits and passion for competition to his family. His dad David and uncles Steve and Tom were All-American football players at Concordia University Wisconsin in Mequon, WI who are current members of the CUW Athletic Hall of Fame. Buuck’s older brother, Taylor, is currently a senior baseball player for the Falcons. From an early age Buuck was involved in playing all three major sports.

“Whenever someone asks me which one I’m going to focus on I can never pick one,” said Buuck. “Sports are my life and I love playing them.”

Taylor was the first of the Buucks to attend Valley Catholic and was part of the Valiant baseball team that was state-runner up in 2010. Carter was an eighth grader watching from the stands at Volcano Stadium as Taylor and Valley Catholic came a game away from championship glory.

Buuck is a three-sport star at Valley Catholic who’s accurate enough as a quarterback, skilled enough as a basketball player, and filthy good as a pitcher to warrant talk that he’s Metro League-quality in each.

Buuck’s seen the bigger 6A schools that are stone’s throws away from the Valiants’ campus and he’s played with the best players from Westview, Southridge and Jesuit. The all-stater could be just as good at any of the Metro powerhouses and though he knows he could contend at that level, Buuck chooses to stay put at Valley Catholic-the smallest high school in the Beaverton area. The small school feel: becoming close with teammates and classmates and knowing every attendee on a first-name basis. is irreplaceable in Buuck’s world.

On Friday nights, whether it’s football, basketball or baseball at home or on the road the Valiant faithful always come out in droves and the student section is always revved up and rabid. Buuck’s true-blue to his roots and said he’s never considered abandoning ship for greener pastures and consistent high-level competition. He’s been flying the white and blue Valiant flag since middle school and as the school’s student president, isn’t going TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Carter Buuck has outstanding knowledge of each sport he plays, especially basketball where hes an extension of head coach Joel Sobotka.

“We get huge crowds for every game and we’re always winning championships in every sport. It’s a perfect school,” said Buuck. “We have phenomenal coaching staffs, and a great athletic director in Joel Sobotka. “Valley Catholic is something that can’t be matched anywhere else in the state. It’s unreal. I love it here, I love the people I can’t get enough of it, I would never leave.”

The Valiants relish the role of being the underdog around town, the small guy on the block fighting for respect and headlines in the local newspapers. Buuck’s been the pied piper of the Valiants’ recent winning ways both on the hardwood and the diamond. In addition to the quarterfinal appearance in baseball, the basketball team reached the 3A semi-finals by playing an all-out, rugged style of hoops under Sobotka that perfectly suited Buuck’s relentless motor and drive.

“It’s just a Valley Catholic tradition to never give up and always give all you can to go as deep as you can in the playoffs,” said Buuck. We had a motto in basketball: ‘play your guts out’ aka PYGO and the school kind of adapted that model. Everybody buys into it.”

Devoted to football and hoops

Baseball is his future and what we wants to pursue collegiately but football is important to Buuck too. A lot of the football players at Valley Catholic decided not to come out this season but Buuck and a couple of his friends such as Walsh have remained loyal to the program.

“We think this is the year to take Valley Catholic to the state playoffs in football,” said Buuck. “We have new lights, a new stadium coming in. We really think this is our year. I think anything is possible at Valley Catholic.”

Walsh and Buuck are co-captains of the Valiant football team, two of the few seniors who decided to stick around and play football this coming season.

“It’s great to have a guy like that knows what to do all the time, every play,” said Walsh. “Having such a huge competitor next to me to help lead the team is really nice.”by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Valley Catholic senior Carter Buuck excels as VC's quarterback on the gridiron

Buuck tore his right ACL going into his sophomore season so he missed both football and basketball season. The injury, in hindsight, might have been a blessing in disguise. Sitting on the sidelines taught Buuck to never take anything for granted and to give everything he has, every single play. He returned at 100% as a junior and was the Ginobili-esque lefty bringing the energy and creativity to the floor. With Buuck, Jarrett Gray, Ben Taylor coming back in November, Valley Catholic has the horses to once again be a factor at the 3A state tournament.

“We really think we have a special team this year,” said Buuck. “Last year we thought we had a great team and we graduate one of our captains and best players (Liam Cassidy) but other than that we have four starters, the player of the year in the conference (Taylor). We really think this is our year to put together something special and win a championship.”

Buuck’s basketball IQ is so high that Sobotka allows Buuck a good amount of autonomy on the court. Two weekends ago in summer league tournament in Longview, WA Buuck played on Saturday but missed two of the games on Sunday because he had to attend a wedding. It was during those times that Sobotka realized how much he counts on Buuck for a wide-ranging amount of duties, and how much the second-year coach is going to miss the lefty when he graduates.

“He knows how to think the game and athletics. He thinks a lot like a coach and he’s really an extension of me and the coaching staff on the court,” said Sobotka. “It’s the same reason why he’s successful as a quarterback and a pitcher. Those are the kind of guys for me as a coach, they’re invaluable. I rely on him especially as a leader. If I sense we need to pick up our energy, I can mention it to Carter and he’s already noticed it and started talking to guys.

Sobotka said Buuck is “absolutely fearless” in any athletic arena and feels he’s going to make the next play that leads

his teams to a win. Against Central Catholic on Sunday, Buuck emptied his energy tank, bringing the ball up against persistent pressure, triggering the half court offense and relentlessly attacking the Ram bigs with gallant drives to the tin. Buuck has no regard for his body when he’s playing basketball which often results in spectacular endeavors and finishes in the lane. While Sobotka might have to hold his breath every now and again when the star guard gets pummeled to the deck, he knows Buuck going to bounce back. After beating Central Catholic, Sobotka had several opposing coaches come up to him and compliment Buuck’s all-out unrestrained style of play. The way Buuck gave 110% on each possession and lifted the Valiants to another level of high-quality was noticeable, even to unsung eye.

Leader of excellence

Sobotka, who doubles as Valley Catholic’s athletic director, said the big thing for the basketball program andtheir athletic department overall is developing a culture of excellence, a championship culture . The former Portland State men’s basketball coach syas Buuck is a prime example of what the Valiants want to be associated with. Buuck’s a team-first competitive star who puts others before himself.

“Last season we talked about being all in as a competitor. Every single play, every night we play, everybody’s all in and Carter is beyond that,” said Sobotka. “He lives that mantra, whether he’s a little bit tired or banged up, he’s all in. He’s about winning and working.”

Late in the season last year the Valley Catholic JV2 team-normally the lowest level of basketball at a high school Buuck helped organize a “white out” for the Valiants’ final game of the season. At Buuck’s urging about 35-40 students came decked out in head-to-toe white clothing rooting the freshmen and sophomores on.

“It was one of the neatest things I’ve ever seen,” said Sobotka. “That’s something I don’t think you find many places. It’s one of those things where I feel I’m fortunate to be at Valley because of kids like Carter who are just so down to Earth and are such good people. Sometimes kids think it’s cool to be cool and Carter doesn’t care. He’s about enjoying people, treating them the right way and being friends with everybody.”

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