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He was always going at full speed

Gunnar Cederberg gave it everything he had, every game, for the Tigard football, basketball and baseball teams
by: Dan Brood, Gunnar Cederberg shined bright on the football field, basketball court and baseball diamond at Tigard.

TIGARD - He only knows one way to play.

Whatever sport it is, Gunnar Cederberg is always going at just one speed - full speed.

Football, basketball, baseball - it doesn't matter - Cederberg is going to give it everything he has.

'Written above the door to my room is the phrase `hustle never hurt anyone,'' said Cederberg, who graduated from Tigard High School on Friday. 'That's something I really believe in. I always go as hard as I can.'

And the Tiger football, basketball and baseball squads - all of which qualified the Class 4A state playoffs in the 2005-2006 school year - seemed to benefit from his attitude and play.

'There's no quit in that kid,' Tigard High School boys basketball coach Shawn Alderman said of Cederberg. 'He's quite the player and competitor.'

'Gunnar is always go, go, go,' Tigard baseball coach Jason Stanley said. 'He's the engine that drives the machine.'

That attitude also was present on the football field.

'He's got a fire about him,' Tiger football coach Mitch Sanders said about Cederberg. 'He lays it all on the line.'

He's done that for many games at Tigard High School, as he played varsity football and baseball each for three-plus seasons in addition to playing varsity basketball for three years.

'It put a smile on my face to play so much,' Cederberg said. 'Sports have been a huge part of my life. I want to be remembered as someone who ran around doing something exciting to help the team.'

Cederberg can also be remembered as being the Tigard/Tualatin Times Athlete of the Year, from Tigard High School, for the 2005-2006 school year. The honor goes to the top senior-class athlete, as seen by the Times, at Tigard High School.

Cederberg, as a receiver for the Tiger football squad, a wing on the basketball team and a catcher for the Tigard baseball team, had plenty of individual success and accolades during his senior year at the school. But, for Cederberg, the success of the team he was playing for seemed to be the most important thing.

'To go to the playoffs in all three sports was awesome,' Cederberg said. 'I loved the teams and the coaches. I'd run through walls for them.'

'I think he's given that a try a couple of times,' Alderman said with a laugh. 'I don't know who came out on top, Gunnar or the wall.'

Cederberg's super senior year at Tigard actually started with a bit of apprehension. That's because he was going to play his senior football season under a new system and a new coach in Sanders.

'This year started off a little rough,' Cederberg said. 'But it got better.'

Did it ever.

Behind the play of talented group of players, the Tigers rolled to a 9-3 season and advanced all the way to the quarterfinal round of the Class 4A state playoffs.

'We all knew we could be good,' Cederberg said. 'But from going from not having a coach to getting to the state quarterfinals is amazing.'

Cederberg played a big role in that ride.

After playing at receiver in his junior season, Cederberg played more at a wingback spot his senior year under the new Tigard offense.

He ended up thriving in that role. For the season had had 27 receptions for 498 yards (an 18.4 yards-a-catch average) and five touchdowns. He also ran the ball 51 times for 431 more yards (an 8.5 yards-a-carry average) and three more TDs. Cederberg ended up earning first team All-Pacific-9 Conference and third team All State honors at receiver.

'He is one heck of a competitor,' Sanders said. 'He gained a lot of yards for us, he always worked hard and he was a very good leader. He's one of those kids who is just easy to coach.'

Tigard's football season ended with a 17-14 loss to Lake Oswego in the state quarterfinals.

'Some of my biggest memories are the hardest,' said Cederberg, who played for the 2003 Tigard state championship team as a sophomore. 'Like after the Lake Oswego game. Nick Brooks Jeff Jones, Nick Meermeier and I had played football together forever. We were so emotional after that game, we were just drained. We looked at each other and we almost got to laughing. It was a great memory.'

Speaking of great memories, Cederberg said some of his fondest memories came in his games against rival Tualatin.

'It was huge,' Cederberg said of the rivalry. 'One of the most enjoyable things was playing Tualatin. It was always exciting when we played them. Everyone always gave a little more when we played TuHS.'

Cederberg particularly remembers the football game he played at Tualatin his junior year.

In that game, a 14-6 Tigard win, Cederberg had touchdown receptions covering 77 and 55 yards. For the contest, he ended up with three catches for 147 yards and one rush for 39 yards.

'That was my favorite memory,' Cederberg said of that game. 'At the beginning, I dropped two passes and the coaches weren't happy. After that, I had to do what I could to help us win that game.'

During the basketball season, Cederberg had one key role to play for the Tigers, and he really took to it.

'Defense is the No. 1 thing with our team, and Gunnar was our defensive stopper,' Alderman said. 'He took a ton of pride in shutting down the other team's top guy.'

'I didn't score much, but I worked as hard as I could,' Cederberg said. 'Coach Alderman is a very defensive-oriented coach. He and I were a good fit. He could get me to do better things out on the court. He could get every amount of energy out of me.

'All I really wanted to do was play defense out there. I'm just 5-10, but I say I play like I'm 6-3 on defense.'

Cederberg had a scoring average of 4.0 points a game in league play his senior year, but he still earned honorable mention all-league honors.

He also helped the youthful Tigard team reach the Class 4A state playoffs.

'We were pretty dang young, but we still got to the playoffs,' Cederberg said. 'The four seniors on the team had a great time. It was so much fun. It was tough to say goodbye to Tiger basketball.'

The 2006 Tigard baseball season got off to a shaky start. First, Meermeier and senior Luke Lipnos were lost to injury. Then, early in the season, Cederberg suffered a dislocated shoulder on a collision at home plate.

'I never experienced a major injury before,' he said. 'It was scary.'

But he ended up missing just nine days. In his first game back following his quick recovery, in Tigard's Pac-9 opener at Forest Grove, Cederberg had two doubles in Tigard's win.

'The Lord blessed me,' said Cederberg, who played in the outfield in his first few games back in the lineup before moving back to catcher.

The Tigers ended up winning their other two Pac-9 games that opening week.

'After we went 3-0 in the first week, we said `why not us?'' Cederberg said.

Tigard ended up going 15-1 in league play, winning its first ever Pacific-9 Conference title.

'That meant a lot to me,' Cederberg said. 'I wanted to be part of the first Pac-9 champ. To go out on top, at 15-1, after not making the playoffs last year made it so much sweeter.'

For the season, Cederberg ended up hitting for a .382 batting average. He had seven doubles, a pair of triples, 20 RBI, 16 runs scored and he went 5-for-5 on stolen base attempts. He also had a .582 slugging percentage and a .460 on-base percentage.

Cederberg also was a first-team All-Pac-9 pick at designated hitter.

'He's been great,' Stanley said. 'He's been a good leader for us and he always worked hard. It's going to be hard to replace him.'

And, for Cederberg, it may be hard to replace what he enjoyed at Tigard.

'It's by the grace of God that I was playing here at Tigard,' he said. 'I was blessed to play with a great group of kids and great coaches. That means so much.'

There has been another strong influence for Cederberg - his family.

'I was blessed again,' he said. 'My parents (Mark and Cindy Cederberg) maybe missed three games in my whole career. And to finally play with my brother (Axel Cederberg) was great. Having my family there all the team really helped.'

The Cederberg family won't have to travel far to see Gunnar play in college, as, starting this fall, he plans to play both football and baseball at Linfield College in McMinnville. Cederberg, who was recruited for football, will play at a slot receiver on the gridiron and in the outfield for the baseball team.

'Linfield just feels right,' he said. 'I'm very excited to be going there. Both of my parents graduated from Linfield.'

If nothing else, the Linfield football and baseball teams know they're going to get a player that will be going at full speed - all the time.