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Day: November 16, 2012

Growing pains this season may yield high returns in the future

John Stroebel and another McNary lineman help open a path for running back Brett Hildebrand during the Grants Pass game earlier this season. (Courtesy J&H Photo)

Of the Keizertimes

The McNary High School varsity football team may not have finished the year with the record they hoped for, but the gains they made this season will likely become the foundation for future success.

After three years of not winning more than three games, the team had to reset itself in more ways than one.

“The challenge was getting away from our losing seasons. We had to learn how to practice and learn to compete and then learn how to win,” said Kaleb Simpson, a senior.

“Changing a football team’s identity is always a tough thing and being able to say that we were part of making that change to a smash mouth team instead of passing first is pretty cool,” said Celt Kelly Cowan, a senior.

From the outset, Parker intended to instill a run-first offense, but making such changes takes time and more than a little buy-in from players.

“The biggest struggle early in the season was getting the players to practice hard on every rep,” Parker said. “Our practice tempo was much slower than the game and that made it harder for us to play well. There was a noticeable improvement in how we played the game when the tempo at practice improved.”

“We had to do a lot of running and get more conditioned, then we had learn to block better and then pick up linebackers as we’re run-blocking,” added Celt Bruce Isabell.

After struggling in a 47-7 loss in their Central Valley Conference opener, Parker went back to basics the following week of practice. They did no team reps and focused instead on fundamentals to imbue players with the tools to play better as a team.

By the following Friday, the Celts pulled out a 26-19 win over North Salem High School and running back Brett Hildebrand rolled up 220 offensive yards in his wake as the new offensive look began to gel.

“I knew that we were eventually going to get to that point, but putting in the new offense was really complicated. I was having trouble figuring out where I was supposed to go and the linemen were having trouble figuring out where they were supposed to go, but we finally started working together against North,” Hildebrand said.

Flipping the switch wasn’t easy, but both coaches and veteran players were impressed with young talent finding ways to fill out new roles.

“Our young guys just really stepped up and we came together as a team and that chemistry showed on the field,” Simpson said.

Coupling new talent with senior talent and some already-veteran juniors, the team made better progress than their preseason games gave reason to believe was possible.

“Perry Groves was playing great football all year long, but mid-year he started to become a more vocal leader. Perry is a man of stature that demands respect and attention, and his work ethic is admirable and makes his leadership believable. On the offensive side of the football, Bruce started to play more O-line, and he was a catalyst for us up front. His energy, competitiveness, and hard work started to push our tempo at practice,” Parker said.

Even when the team wasn’t having the success in the scoring, they found ways to celebrate little victories and the attitude caught fire throughout the ranks.

“The kids adopted the quote, ‘Don’t count the time, make the time count’ at practice, and they started to compete and push themselves at practice every rep,” Parker said.

The result was a change that was present even after the Celts took last week’s loss in the first round of the playoffs to Lake Oswego High School.

“We came from a program that everyone looked down on, and Coach Parker and all the coaches helped us believe that we can be the bigger team when we want to be. Even when we hung our heads down, Coach Parker never gave up on us and got us to where we are today,” said Matt Piskorowski.

It was a bittersweet night for the team, but many of the graduating seniors are excited about the future of the program.

“I’d like to see them continue because that’s the path to success in high school football. The run game opens up opportunities in the passing game and that’s the way things need to be done. When I come back in a few years, I’d like to see them continue to be doing this,” Cowan said.

Lakers pummel Celts in first round

Celt Devon Dunagan heads downfield after reeling in a pass from Hayden Gosling during the Lake Oswego game. (Courtesy J&H Photo)

Of the Keizertimes 

After the opposing team left the field to celebrate its 41-0 win, after their coaches gave them one last post-game debrief, after many of their teammates headed back into the locker room, a half-dozen senior McNary High School varsity football players locked hands and strode down the gridiron one last time.

Many of them hung their heads, a few had to stop and collect themselves to keep going, and the scene made for a bittersweet grace note to a season where the boys saw the team rebound from some of the lowest times in the team’s history and begin rebuilding toward something better.

Because they were making that walk, the boys didn’t hear the woman approach a group of chatting McNary fans behind them. She didn’t introduce herself. She was there to support the Lake Oswego team, but she’d waited on that field just as long as the boys lingered in hope that what she had to say would somehow make it back to their ears: “You guys have a really good team, so much better than what the score showed.”

For the seniors on the team, that will have to be enough as the Celts lost to Lake Oswego High School in the first round of the state tournament. The story the score didn’t tell happened mostly in the first half as the Celts frequently surprised the Lakers with deft hands and trick plays.

“At the end of the day, they’re a great team–returning state champs–but we earned a lot of respect from them. After every play, they were coming up and saying good job and wishing us luck,” said Celt Matt Piskorowski. “We played well, but it still wasn’t our best football.”

McNary punted away its first drive as neither the run game nor air attack got them beyond their own 30-yard line. Lake Oswego answered with the first touchdown of the night at 6:22 in the first quarter.

The Celts had one of their most impressive possessions on the subsequent drive. It started with Cody Bond returning the kickoff to the McNary 20-yard line. A faked hand off by Hayden Gosling turned into a reception by Perry Groves for a small gain two plays later. The offensive line forced a Laker penalty on the next play and then an incomplete pass brought up the punt. McNary faked that, too, and Grant Taylor reeled in a pitch for the first down at the team’s own 33-yard line.

Brett Hildbrand moved the line of scrimmage eight yards downfield on a run up the gut and and McNary drew the Lakers offsides to reset the chains. Gosling connected with Groves from McNary’s 36-yard line and Groves raced the ball to the Lakers’ 37-yard line before getting pushed out of bounds. The team faltered after that and turned over the ball on downs. The Lakers struck again six plays later to take a 14-0 lead, but it was last time in the half they would find such success.

Bond pulled in the next kickoff and took it out near the Celtic 15-yard line. He sent to ball to Garrett Hittner on a lateral pass and Hittner ran it out to just past midfield to give the Celts prime field position. Unfortunately, McNary didn’t find a route to another first down.

The Lakers had their first setback on their possession when Mason Ross and Grant Gerstner took down Laker quarterback Justen Ruppe for a six-yard loss. Pass coverage by Bond and Andrew Lawrence kept the Lakers in check as they went to the air. Zac Fegles stopped the Lakers’ advance at McNary’s own 35-yard line. Then Groves and Brian Kostenko got ahold of a Laker rusher right before he crossed into the end zone and forced a fumble that went out of bounds, giving the ball back to McNary on a touchback and possession at its own 20-yard line.

The Celtics moved the chains on receptions by Hittner and Devon Dunagan, but fell victim to their own unforced errors before penetrating the Laker red zone.

The Lakers got the ball back on downs with 1:30 left in the half and three plays later the team was at the McNary 10-yard line. Ross came up with a sack to help the Celtic effort, then Gerstner and Kaleb Simpson got ahold of one of the Lakers as he reeled in a pass around the 5-yard line forcing a fumble. Celt Kelly Cowan dove into the mix and covered the ball up, allowing the team to take a knee and go into the half trailing 14-0.

“I don’t think they expected to be at 14-0 at halftime. It’s good to get respect from them,” Simpson said after the game.

The Lakers took a 26-0 lead by the end of the third quarter and added another 15 points in the fourth to seal the win. Penalties took a visible toll on the Celts as the game wore on.

“They have a very good defense, the best we’ve seen all year long, so there’s no going around that. They also were much more aggressive than we saw on film and I think that caught our players by surprise. Whenever they do something you don’t expect them to, it takes your players, especially young ones, some time to get comfortable again with what they’re doing,” said Isaac Parker, McNary head coach. “Our defense played well enough in the first half to give us a chance. Unfortunately, offensively, we tripped on our own feet a little bit early on and missed our opportunities to score and keep the game close, and move the chains to keep their offense off the field.”

Taylor said stopping the team at the goal line twice in the first half were the highlights for the team, and that there was some gratification in having lived up to their original goals for the season.

“We haven’t made the playoffs since 2008. We had a positive outlook, stuck with our vision and we got here,” he said.

While the season ended on a sour note on the field, Parker said the team had many victories off of it.

“We talk to our kids about how we can’t choose when we want to be good, that being good is a life-wide commitment. If these kids want to be good at football, they had to learn to be good at everything they did. They had to learn to do things right in all aspects of life, and give their best effort, focus, and attitude in all they do. I’ve talked to a bunch of kids who have said that school is easier now or life at home is better because they made a decision to learn those habits of success, and ultimately, that’s the impact I hope we have on the kids,” he said.

Extend the giving season

With the holiday season upon us, thoughts turn to travel plans, parties, gifts, events and celebrations.

For too many in our area thoughts of families in need turn to what they don’t have and what they cannot look forward to.

Parents of needy families will worry that come Christmas morning there will be very little, or nothing at all, under the tree (if there even is a tree) for their children.  Worse, those mothers and fathers will have the constant concern they live with: not being able to provide enough nutritous food for their children.

Thankfully we don’t live in a Dickensian world where the haves ignore the have nots. Keizer and all of Marion County is generous when it comes to our neighbors. The Keizer Network of Women’s (KNOW) annual Giving Basket program, along with similar programs from other organizations, takes on heightened sense of urgency.

KNOW, part of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce, took on the annual Giving Basket project several years ago and has turned it into a precise operation that doesn’t stop until it has what it needs. This year KNOW expects to deliver Christmas presents such as toys, clothing, books, and more than 125 Keizer families, which includes more than 400 children.

While the Giving Basket program will brighten the holidays for the recepients, it is time for all the organizations that generously collect and distribute food and gifts to devise a plan to expand giving  programs into other times of the year.

We all know that hunger and needs know no season. The families who receive boxes of food during this season are hungry in the spring and summer as well. Our community is more generous during the holiday season—and that should never change—but it would be a benefit to establish a second giving season, either at the beginning of summer, when school is letting out, or in August, just before the school year begins.

A giving program in August could couple food boxes with school supplies that every kid needs. A child who is without shouldn’t have to face a new school year without enough food or the proper supplies.

Let’s turn the generosity of the holidays into a second season of giving to help our neighbors who need a helping hand.


Facebook pet peeves


Facebook recently announced it now has 1 billion users. Three of them are contented with the social network’s new timeline format. Of course, the irony of complaining about a free web site service that no one forces you to use seems to escape most disgruntled Facebook users.

But even more irritating than Facebook are the users themselves. This was especially obvious during the pre-election months when numerous FB’ers felt obliged to advise their friends who to vote for, just in case we didn’t have the ability to figure it out for ourselves.

So here’s list of common Facebook abuses, together with a little friendly advice:

The Extreme Poster: These folks have an overwhelming urge to share everything they do, think, hear, see, smell, or step in, during the course of their day. The most egregious offenders will issue a screen avalanche of multiple postings in the space of a few minutes. Advice: Just stop it. Besides, you’re displacing recent vital posts (i.e., mine).

The Multiple Medical Moaner: No one likes to hear that a FB friend is ill. No, seriously, no one likes to hear that a FB friend is ill—repeatedly, day after day, week after week. These virtual hypochondriacs generally claim to be suffering from odd complaints, too, such as hyperactive spleens, hula-hoop intestines, hockey rash, foreign accent syndrome, mysteriously peeling toenails, or CDAS (chronic donut assimilation syndrome). Advice: share your medical miseries with a doctor, not the entire planet.

The Food Photo Fanatic: People, listen. No matter how delicious that Olive Garden chicken parmesan tasted, unless you’re a professional food photographer don’t even attempt to take food photos with your 0.1 megapixel cellphone camera, post them, and expect readers to drool.  The colors will be washed out and sickening; oils and fats glisten with a greasy sliminess; and bilious grey-colored meats resemble road kill. Advice: eat your food, don’t archive it.

The Serial Baby Photo Poster: If you must plaster the screen with baby pix, at least dress the kid in something other than just a diaper. Advice: You wouldn’t post pictures of Grandpa in his Depends; so show the same restraint for baby in Pampers, okay?

The Boring Babbler: Sorry, but I have no desire to learn what time you got up, what color socks you plan to wear, or what stubborn food fragments remaining from last night’s seafood gumbo you had to dig out while flossing. Advice: Keep dreary stuff to yourself. But if you find skeletal remains while poking around in the basement, then sure, share.

The Weary Weather Watcher: FB’ers with a climate fetish often post hourly weather updates. Advice: Good grief, if I want mundane meteorological news, I’ll turn on the Weather Channel. Or, I’ll just look out the window.

The Multiple Re-poster: Your post never got any “likes” or comments, so what do you do? Repost it over and over again, desperate for virtual recognition of its FB worthiness. Advice: delete, and go do something interesting.

Liking your own status/comment/photo: This is just plain silly. It’s like high-fiving yourself in public. Of course you like you own postings, otherwise you wouldn’t post them. Duh!

Posting photos of cool places/people/activities:  Okay, so you just returned from Trinidad and Tobago, or saw Bob Dylan at a Wendy’s Drive-Thru, or swam with killer piranha in the Amazon recently. Congratulations, you lead an exciting life; but don’t gloat. There’s only one thing worse…..

Posting photos of uncool places/people/activities:  No, I don’t want to see a photographic record of your car getting its oil changed, or the time you bumped into a Sarah Palin lookalike at Starbucks, or your collection of souvenir spoons from New Mexico.

The Nude FB’er: Fess up now. I know some of you leap out of the bath having just thought of a screamer to post, and race to your computer still in the buff. Advice to my Uncle Norm: Stop it; Aunt Sarah is beginning to worry.

Do checkout my FB page, because I’d never do anything along these lines.

(Thomas’ features and columns have appeared in more than 200 magazines and newspapers. He can be reached at [email protected]

Thank you, drivers

To the Editor:

Thank you to the courteous drivers in Keizer.  Over the past three years I have logged 2,000 miles running and most of those miles have been right here in our fair city.  During that time I have not had even one “close call” crossing streets or with cars coming out of driveways.  The drivers have been careful and attentive.  Thank you and a reminder to fellow Keizerite runners and walkers: with the shorter days and rainy conditions be sure to wear bright clothing and have a light if it’s dark.  Let’s keep Keizer a safe place as we travel the by-ways.

Dave Guile

Development at Keizer Station

To the Editor:

I feel that we are at the 11th hour of a development tidal wave, but I wasn’t proactive before, so can’t blame anyone. Now I feel motivated, and here’s why:

When I saw the land on the east side of McLeod Lane adjoining Lockhaven Drive being graded for development I was shocked. That used to have a berm, which I assumed was to block noise to the single family residences in east Gubser. Now I find that Keizer Station is no longer a distinct “station” (something like Bridgeport Village) but a spawling endless chain of commercial/mixed use retail.

Likewise, across Lockhaven Drive homes have been vacated to make way for more spawling commercial development—amazing. Give them an inch; they take a mile.

I am not a long-time resident here; I only moved in 1998. I’m a teacher and a cyclist. I used to ride from my home on north River Rd. (in Country Glen) through Gubser, over the rail road tracks and thru cornfields.The whole nature of the area is changed.

Circuit City was a bad fit, like other failed businesses in the Station. When they are re-occupied, traffic impact will go back up, as they find the right business. What about requiring that 90 percent of commercial space in there stay occupied before allowing more development. But basically, I don’t understand how the original concept grew tentacles.

Jim Merrill

Tons of waste recycle at Brooks

To the Editor:

America Recycles Day, November 15, was developed to celebrate the progress that we’ve made recycling as well as offering an opportunity to raise awareness about the value that recycling brings.

Reusing recyclables to make new products conserves energy, reduces emissions and conserves natural resources.  You may be surprised to know that the most recycled material in North America is steel and according to the Steel Recycling Institute, “More steel is recycled annually than paper, plastic, aluminum, glass and copper combined.”  You may be surprised that Covanta Marion, your local energy-from-waste facility, is one of the major contibutors to this recycling effort.

Every year, Covanta Marion recycles approximately 5,105 tons of metal items including cans, small appliances, tire rims and other types of scrap metal found in household waste including ferrous metals like iron.

We’re proud to be part of the recycling community.  During the last calendar year, Covanta’s Energy-from-Waste facilities recycled over 800 million pounds of ferrous and 30 million pounds of non-ferrous metals; that’s the equivalent weight of five Golden Gate Bridges and one billion aluminum beverage cans.

We’ve all got a cause to celebrate, and not just on November 15, but every day.

Karen Breckenridge

The writer is business manager at the Covanta Energy plant in Brooks.

Erroneous info for Keizer citizens

To the Editor:

Taking issue with your editorial regarding Keizer’s mayoral election (Lore Christopher for mayor, Oct. 26, 2012):

Your opinion piece starts off interesting with an introduction to Keizer’s first mayoral challenge in 10 years, Mayor Lore Christopher versus Councilor David McKane, stating the race is really between personalities and styles. But voters should make a decision on what is best for the city of Keizer. You pointed out some of the important issues Keizer will be facing in the future. You appear to be delivering a fair message to Keizer citizens about the importance of their vote consideration in our mayoral decision on a level playing field.

Now I get that a political editorial may be designed to persuade or direct your readers’ opinion. But hopefully based on accurate information and facts. In my opinion conjecture, and ambiguous double entendres don’t serve the candidates well and confuse the Keizer citizens trying to make an informative decision.

You first write mayor Christopher didn’t support a cell phone tax, then you say she did support a cell phone tax. You admit the error and make a weak correction online knowing all the while your printed newspaper went out and couldn’t be corrected. You had the opportunity to correct your error in your printed newspaper November 2 but you did not—knowing this was the last chance before the election.

The cell phone tax was an important issue that angered a lot of Keizer citizens, and became a predominate campaign issue difference. David McKane was against it. But was it a good idea to help pay shortfalls as mayor Christopher wanted?

The attempted annexation of Clear Lake from Marion County Fire District #1 was an embarrassment for many Keizer/Marion County citizens, which you describe as a misguided ploy by the mayor, but one she felt was in the best interest of Keizer. Was this misguided, or a conscious attempt to do as you describe a mayor needs to do in your editorial—be imaginative and creative in solving issues without spending money the city doesn’t have. But was it thoughtful?

You write that David McKane is a quiet politician who is thoughtful, smart and cautious. He always wants to know more and he wants to know why. You might say he listens quietly as he is preparing a thoughtful relevant question to reveal accurate information and facts. Voicing a strong opinion in opposition of a cell phone tax, and trying to quell infighting with our fire departments. Serving well for Keizer citizens.

Mayor Lore Christopher deserves enormous praise for her many years of dedicated service and leadership, she has been an integral part of a great town with much success. And will continue to do so. But as you point out, she didn’t do it alone—no mayor does. Many people help make Keizer a success and they all deserve respect and praise. And that certainly includes every councilor, and many others.

You finish by writing both candidates are qualified to be mayor. After eight years on the council David McKane knows the issues and is deliberate in his thought process. After 12 years as mayor Lore Christopher has the ear of those who can help Keizer.

My favorite line in your editorial; “The next mayor will have to know who to turn to in other government entities to get what she wants for Keizer” Kinda like serving a sandwich with a bite in it, ain’t it?

Mike O’Malley

Licenses shouldn’t trump other issues

To the Editor:

This is in response to Kim Thatcher’s recent article in the Keizertimes (Keep good driver’s license standards, Nov. 9), her first communication with Keizer constituents as she begins another term as our representative. I find it disheartening to discover that Ms. Thatcher is choosing to focus her attention on limiting drivers’ licenses for undocumented individuals, rather than communicating her commitment to tackle some of the truly pressing concerns that plague our state. In addition, her article disseminates misinformation and blatantly provokes fear.

First, Representative Thatcher states “Why should we open the door for a drug dealer from a foreign country to get a driver’s license in Oregon?” Indeed. In our current system, only drug dealers from the United States are permitted to have driver’s licenses in Oregon. Surely Ms. Thatcher is not suggesting that denying a driver’s license is likely to curtail illegal drug trafficking.

Next, Ms. Thatcher suggests that issuing drivers’ licenses would open the doors to other services, such as a “bank account, welfare benefits, you name it.” As a legislator for the state of Oregon, I would expect Ms. Thatcher to be aware that applicants for temporary assistance for needy families (TANF) are required to bring social security numbers or cards and proof of legal status or citizenship for everyone in the household who wants benefits. Similar conditions for documentation are required to open a bank account. A driver’s license is not considered proof of citizenship, and that would not change if undocumented individuals were allowed to apply for Oregon drivers’ licenses. I’m not sure what encompasses “you name it” so will not attempt to respond.

Finally, my personal stance on whether or not to grant drivers’ licenses to undocumented individuals is irrelevant. The question to ask is whether Ms. Thatcher is adequately representing you, her constituent, as she begins her fifth term. Are you and your family struggling with challenges related to this economy? Worried about shrinking resources for public education? Wondering about changes in health care? Or is your primary focus on whether or not undocumented individuals will be able to obtain drivers’ licenses?

Kelli Allan