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Gridders prep for redemption with McKay

Devon Dunagan reaches back for a pass in the West Albany end zone under double coverage. (Photo courtesy of J&H Photo)
Devon Dunagan reaches back for a pass in the West Albany end zone under double coverage. (Photo courtesy of J&H Photo)

Of the Keizertimes

If there’s one lesson Isaac Parker, head coach of the McNary High School varsity football team, wants the Celts to take away from a crushing 28-27 loss last week, it’s this: 20-0 is no time to get comfortable.

“We were in a position where we could have easily won that game by a large margin, but the loss will hopefully instill a sense of urgency to get better right now,” Parker said.

The varsity football team will attempt to get back on track after losing to West Albany High School last week, the second loss for the team in as many weeks. The Celtics (1-1 in conference, 1-2 overall) host McKay High School (0-3 in conference, overall) Friday, Sept. 26. Kickoff time is 7 p.m.

McKay dropped a game to North Salem High School last week 20-14. The Royal Scots’ quarterback Matthew Ritchie threw for one touchdown and ran another in from the one-yard line. It was the second week in a row Ritchie connected with Tristen Wilson for a touchdown.

On the ground, Scot Orlando Lupian is McKay’s biggest running threat. The senior has 189 yards and a touchdown on 47 carries this season.

“They’re probably going to be a bit slower than some of the other teams we’ve faced, and that means we’ll have to be careful not to overrun them, especially for the defense,” said McNary’s Kolby Barker.

While favored in the contest, the Celts biggest hurdle will be leaving the ghosts of last week’s game in the past. McNary held a 20-0 lead at one point in its game with the Bulldogs and watched it evaporate in the second half en route to a loss in overtime.

“We’ll definitely keep it with us and use it as motivation when we run more sprints,” said Barker.

The Celtics’ biggest offensive play of the night was a pick-six by senior Kyle Torres who ran the ball back from the McNary one-yard line. On offense, the team combined for less than 250 total yards. Seven penalties set the McNary back 67 yards.

McNary quarterback Drew McHugh completed 11 of 19 for 140 yards and a touchdown against the Bulldogs. McHugh’s back-up, Trent Van Cleave, completed a touchdown pass in overtime.

McNary’s ground game continued to struggle. Running back Brady Sparks eked out 24 yards on 13 carries. McHugh tucked the ball and ran for 33 yards against West Albany.

Torres led receivers with 72 yards on three catches. Senior Devon Dunagan had 49 yards on five catches with a touchdown.

Parker said a back-to-basics approach was planned for practices this week.

“This game is pretty simple. It boils down to blocking and tackling. We have to improve on those two basic fundamentals. Our schemes are fine. We have to become better blockers and tacklers,” Parker said.