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The La Salle Falconer

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The La Salle Falconer

The student news site of La Salle Catholic College Preparatory.

The La Salle Falconer

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Next Level Seniors: Taking the Brotherhood to the Next Level, Lucas El Youssef Commits To Play Football at Western Oregon University

Jasmine McIntosh
“Football, even though it’s a rough sport, it teaches you a lot about life and how you just have to keep getting up,” senior Lucas El Youssef said.

For senior Lucas El Youssef, football is not just something he does to pass the time — it is a foundational part of his life. 

While El Youssef did not always think himself capable of playing at the collegiate level, he soon realized — with the encouragement of head coach Dustin Janz — that with hard work it was possible and has since committed to play football at Western Oregon University, thus joining The Falconer’s Next Level Seniors, which showcases the select group of seniors who have committed to playing a sport at the collegiate level. 

El Youssef’s football journey at La Salle did not start easily.  

Although the practices were easy and he was friends with many of the upperclassmen his freshman year, as a lineman he was separated from the rest of the team for most of the practice, and was not given as much attention as the other positions on the team. 

After his freshman year, many members of the coaching staff and upperclassmen on the football team left La Salle. 

“So sophomore year I kind of had to step up, and I was at a starting position as a sophomore,” El Youssef said.  

During this season, the COVID-19 pandemic was still affecting sports and school. Many of the remaining players often had Covid, and the season was shortened to only six games. The team did not win any of these games. 

However, El Youssef continued to persist and work hard to make the team better. 

Junior year is when things started to get better.

“But we still didn’t have the right mindset,” he said. “I guess we were still angry at losing that we were not focusing on it, we were all just super frustrated.” 

Using the leadership role he had on the team, El Youssef tried to keep his teammates thinking about the positives: that they still had more games to play and chances to win. 

And El Youssef was right. The team won the homecoming game against Parkrose High School on Sept. 30, 2022. 

“That was the first win of the season,” El Youssef said. “The energy of the student section when we won that game, that made me so happy I almost cried. And that was definitely a very, very, very great moment that I just don’t even have words to describe it. That’s how amazing it was.” 

Junior year was also when El Youssef decided that he was going to strive to play football in college. Up until this time, he thought that it was a “wasted dream” to play football in college. However, Coach Janz changed his mindset. Once Coach Janz told him that it would be special to play at any collegiate level and that he had a shot, El Youssef really started to believe it, and began putting in the work to make his renewed dream a reality. 

He started going to the gym, lifting weights, and practicing drills in the offseason. He also made sure to review the different plays in his playbook as much as he could to memorize them. 

“And then senior year [is] where it really stepped up and I kind of set myself apart from people,” El Youssef said.  

The first game of the season was against St. Helens High School, which was nerve wracking for El Youssef because he got a concussion when the team played against them during his junior season.  

“We won,” he said. “They didn’t even score.”

El Youssef in his uniform for the Cleveland team. (Photo courtesy of Lucas El Youseef)

The rest of the season continued in a similar pattern. 

The team won all but one game,  conference champion, and made it to the first round of the playoffs. 

“It just felt like all of my hard work had finally paid off,” El Youssef said. “It’s like people digging for gold. Like you just keep digging and digging and you’re not finding anything but you just keep going. Just something inside of you just keeps you pushing. And you finally, you finally get it and it’s the best feeling ever.” 

Throughout his time at La Salle, El Youssef always made sure to give 100% effort, treating every game like it was the conference championship. 

Being a lineman — the position he has played throughout his entire football career — for both offense and defense meant that El Youssef rarely came off the field. And while playing inevitably came with injuries, from many bruises after games to more serious injuries, he never wanted to stop playing. 

El Youssef is thankful to have played in every game because they all taught him something, whether he won or lost, and each one made him into the player and person he is today. 

“So the growth from freshman to senior year was pretty significant for me,” El Youssef said. “And I think it’s not just a high school thing. I think it will stick with me for a while because I’m not going to be the person that I will be without having that.”  

Now that El Youssef will be leaving the La Salle team, he wants to prepare all of the underclassmen — especially the other linemen — to continue playing without him on the line. El Youssef spent a great deal of time this season, and now time during the offseason, working with the underclassmen and giving them as much of his knowledge about football as he can. 

“It’s like I’m a mom and I am sending my kids off to college,” El Youssef said. 

El Youssef describes the La Salle football program as more than just a team — they are a family and a brotherhood. This is especially true because El Youssef has played with “pretty much the same team since sophomore year,” he said. 

When someone is down or angry, he and the rest of the team make sure to check in on them and bring them back up. El Youssef also makes sure to value each player’s individual strengths and see everyone as equal. 

El Youssef’s positive attitude throughout the good and not-so-good times has made him an invaluable member to the football team at La Salle. 

“Being a senior on the team, I never realized how impactful that would be for me because it made me realize a lot of people look up to me,” El Youssef said. “In our last game, everybody, the entire team, came up to me, and everybody was thanking me for everything I did for them.” 

El Youssef is excited to continue that same kind of brotherhood at Western Oregon University next year. 

Although many other schools promised community and family on their team, El Youssef could tell that it meant something different at Western Oregon University, as they not only showed their love for one another in words, but in actions as well. 

El Youssef’s plan is to study biology with the hopes of becoming a pharmacist. Many of his family members are pharmacists, so he has had familiarity with the profession for his whole life, and the subject also greatly interests him.

El Youssef playing football at age eight. (Photo courtesy of Lucas El Youseef)

Playing for a college team, El Youssef is looking forward to competing at a higher level and going up against players who are at the same level. He is also excited to work with the “amazing” coaching staff at Western Oregon University. 

The dream to play in college was not always on El Youssef’s mind, in fact football and sports in general started off as a reason for El Youssef to be outside playing with friends and family. 

“I think that’s why I was drawn to football,” he said. “It’s just because being outside is just kind of something I’ve always been doing.” 

El Youssef started his football career on a CYO team in the third grade. Then, he moved on to play for the Centennial School District, the Cleveland School District, and then back to the Centennial team. 

These teams are where he met some of his future La Salle teammates. El Youssef and senior Grant Ellison have been playing on the same football team since they both started playing for the CYO team. 

He has been receiving support from his family both here in Portland and from across the globe all along the way. At his senior night, around 30 members from his extended family came to watch the game and support him. And family members from Trinidad, Lebanon, and Syria — where his parents’ families are from — see his success on Facebook and support him despite not seeing him for years or even meeting him before. 

“That’s what I love so much about my family,” he said. “They always support me no matter what.”  

El Youssef was first encouraged to play football by his father. who is currently coaching on the La Salle team. 

“He has been by my side the whole way,” El Youssef said. “And he has been pushing me.” 

While he is not the only reason, El Youssef attributes his father as the biggest reason that he is playing football in college. 

This year, El Youssef had the special opportunity to play alongside his younger brother, sophomore Zach El Youssef. 

Over the years El Youssef has created many lasting memories through the football team. However, the one that stands out to him the most is when he played a game with his brother. 

“That’s probably the best moment of my high school football career, is getting to play with my little brother,” El Youssef said.

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