By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes
McNary overlooked McKay last season.
Senior Kolby Barker guaranteed that won’t be the case this Friday.
“We didn’t give them the respect they deserved and we had a really off night,” Barker said of last year’s game. “Probably the first quarter was overlooking them and then after that we couldn’t recover.”
Along with last season’s 10-7 result, which turned out to be McKay’s only win of 2015, the Celtics are coming off back-to-back losses to South Salem and Sprague.
“You have to forget about those (losses),” Barker said. “You can’t dwell on them. You learn from your mistakes and move on. We’re working really hard. We’re ready to go.”
It’s also homecoming for McNary.
“It should be a big week for them for a lot of reasons and I think they’re prepping pretty well,” McNary head coach Jeff Auvinen said of his team. “I think this year we have a different attitude. These seniors have done a really nice job of getting ready.”
McKay went 4-24 over the last three seasons but have a new head coach in Josh Riddell, who previously spent a season at McNary as the freshman team’s offensive coordinator.
The Royal Scots, 1-2, have shown improvement with a 3-point loss to West Salem, followed by a blowout loss to McMinnville and then a convincing win over Forest Grove.
“They play really hard,” Auvinen said of his homecoming opponent. “They are doing a good job. They don’t run a ton of stuff. They are getting off the ball on the offensive line. They are throwing the ball around a little bit. They have a nice balanced attack on offense. Defensively, they are flying to the football. They are playing well. It will be interesting.”
McKay has a different offense than last season, moving away from the Wing-T to the spread.
Auvinen believes the game will be won or lost in the trenches and the Celtics will be forced to play without center Sam Farr, who suffered an neck injury at Sprague.
Despite the consecutive losses, Auvinen continues to see improvement.
“We’ve gotten better every week,” he said. “The opponents have also gotten better every week. This early in the season, there’s a lot of room to jump and get better. It’s every major facet. It’s a lot of different things we’re working on all the time.”