The Gresham High graduate has Linfield ranked No. 3 in the country and ready for another long playoff run

by: THE OUTLOOK: DAVID BALL - Linfield QB Mickey Inns shares a laugh with a teammate after throwing his third TD of the day against Willamette. He is 17-1 as a starter with the Wildcats.

Mickey Inns had never lost a regular-season start in his time at Linfield. And he wasn’t about to start now.

The senior QB had a challenge in front of him with his Wildcats trailing Cal Lutheran 30-27 and less than six minutes to play.

While the fans in the bleachers may have been nervous, Linfield head coach Joe Smith was calm on the sideline.

“I’ve been so impressed with Mickey’s leadership and his competiveness,” Smith said. “We’ve had some All-American players go down with injuries this year, but Mickey has thrown this team on his back and made it his. Our success is completely dependent on him, and that’s a pretty special thing here at Linfield.”

Inns put together a quick 8-play drive that ended in a Josh Kay field goal to tie the score.

But at Linfield, they don’t play for overtime.

The defense forced a punt, and Inns took over near midfield for some more late-game heroics. This time it was a long third-down play, needing to advance the ball to get within field-goal range with just seconds on the clock. Cal Lutheran tacklers were closing in, but Inns bought enough time in the pocket to find Lucas Jepson for a 14-yard pick up.

Kay added a 38-yard field goal with 0:05 on the clock, and Inns kept his perfect regular-season record in tact.

“We have one of the best kickers in the country, so I was just trying to get us in position to give him a chance — it was great to see that ball go through the uprights,” Inns said. “Those two-minute situations are a lot of fun as a QB, because you’re out there calling your own plays, running the show.”

The show has been a smash hit with Inns behind center. The Gresham High graduate has gone 17-1 (.944) since taking over the starting job as a junior last fall.

The Wildcats are 7-0 this season and ranked No. 3 in the NCAA Division III poll with the playoffs just a few weeks away. Last year’s second-round exit came too soon for Mickey, who saw the Linfield standard his rookie season when he traveled with the team on its trek to the national semifinals.

“I wasn’t doing anything more than signaling in plays, but that experience made me want to work hard to get back there,” Inns said. “The goal is always a national championship — that’s the reason you come to Linfield.”

The Wildcats have a national record streak of winning seasons that dates back to 1956.

Inns has thrown for 1,742 yards and 20 TDs this year, despite spending much of the second half on the bench in a series of blowout wins.

“We’ve had our share of injuries this year, but our depth is amazing, and that’s what it takes to go far in the playoffs,” Inns said. “With our receivers, it’s nice to know that no matter who’s out there they are going to be able to go out and make a play.”

A finance major, Inns may end up working at an investment company in the near future, although he hasn’t given up the idea of staying on the football field — coaching.

“I love the game of football, and my coaches here have taught me everything you could ask for and been great role models,” he said. “Walking away from the game is not easy.”

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