by: JEFF GOODMAN / PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP - Canby senior A.J. Schlatter, who earned first-team all-league recognition on both sides of the ball this past season, will continue his football career at Portland State.A.J. Schlatter chose Portland State for its Division I football program, its location and its academic offerings.

The fact that the Canby High senior’s future also builds on a family legacy is more coincidental than anything else.

“There are a lot of family connections, but they let it be my decision,” Schlatter said. “They wanted me to do what was best for me. It just turned out Portland State was the best option.”

Schlatter, who will join the Vikings as a walk-on linebacker, eventually hopes to earn an athletic scholarship.

The 6-2, 205-pound athlete also considered Linfield and Western Oregon before picking PSU, whose football team went 6-6 overall and 3-5 in Big Sky play last year under coach Nigel Burton.

Intentionally or not, Schlatter extends a strong family tradition at Portland State.

His father, Jim, was an assistant football coach for the Vikings in the 1980s. His mother, known as Terri Jo Kelly at the time, helped the Vikings win a national volleyball championship in 1984 and remained there as an assistant coach through the early 1990s.

Their oldest daughter, Garyn, recently wrapped up a stellar volleyball career at PSU. She ranks third all-time in program history with more than 4,400 assists, holds school Division I career records in sets and matches played and became the first player in league history to garner first-team all-conference honors four times.

A.J. Schlatter, who is interested in business and athletic training as potential career fields, will arrive at Portland State with an impressive resume of his own. He put together a fantastic senior season with the Cougars, earning first-team all-league recognition as a tight end and linebacker.

The senior reeled in 11 passes for 193 yards and a team-high three touchdowns while playing a major role in Canby’s running game as a talented blocker.

He also galvanized the Cougars’ defense with team highs in solo tackles (55), total tackles (101), tackles for loss (19), sacks (6.5) and forced fumbles (5).

Schlatter’s individual success came in part because he assumed more responsibility after close friend and teammate Sam Bodine was sidelined by severe leg and ankle injuries.

“This year, after Sam got hurt, my role completely changed,” Schatter said. “That made me different player. I’ve always thought about (playing in college), but it became a realistic option when Sam got hurt.”

Schlatter’s college choice gives him another chance to play alongside Bodine, who recently signed with the Vikings. The longtime friends discussed their options together but didn’t necessarily intend to end up at the same place.

“Just being able to play football again with Sam because we got cut short this year — having another opportunity to play with him for the next four or five years — is pretty cool,” he said.

Schlatter has been around football for much of his life. He remembers playing catch with his father, joining the youth ranks in fourth grade and arriving at Canby as a 5-5, 135-pound fullback and free safety.

And even though Schlatter didn’t receive a scholarship from the Vikings, he insists that the time he has put into the sport over the last four years has paid off.

“In the long run, it will make me a better person,” he said. “It’s taught me so much about how to hold myself to a higher standard, having passion for something, having a goal and doing everything you can to achieve it.”

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