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Day: September 11, 2017

Barker’s five TDs leads Celtics at South Salem

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

SALEM—Using his arm, Erik Barker made sure McNary got off to a fast start at South Salem.

But the Celtics quarterback finished off the Saxons with his legs.

Facing a fourth-and-goal from the South Salem 1-yard line with less than a minute left to play, Barker faked a handoff and broke multiple tackles on the edge to fight his way into the end zone.

“Giving me that run play I was just so excited,” Barker said. “I just saw the edge and put my shoulder down. I was just so determined to get in the end zone. I just lowered my shoulder and kept running.”

Tim Kiser then recovered a fumble after a sack by Junior Walling and Freddy Jimna to complete the 37-26 McNary victory on Friday, Sept. 8.

At halftime, the Celtics appeared as if they might blow out South Salem.

McNary scored on its opening possession as Barker and Jacob Jackson connected for an 11-yard touchdown to complete a 12-play, 65-yard drive.

The Saxons took their only lead, 12-7, on a 23-yard pass on fourth-and-12 with 1:53 remaining in the first quarter. But the Celtics came right back down the field and Barker hit Jackson for another 11-yard touchdown to put McNary back on top 13-12 with 11:26 remaining in the second quarter.

The Celtics then took advantage of two turnovers.

After an interception by Alex McGrath gave McNary the ball inside South Salem’s 35-yard line, Barker completed two passes to Kyle McCallister, the second a 13-yard touchdown.

Ian Koenig then recovered a fumble inside the Saxon 20-yard line and Barker connected with Jonathan Williams for a 10-yard touchdown to stretch the Celtic lead to 27-12 with 5:23 remaining in the first half.

“Our game plan was solid,” Barker said. “They (Saxons defense) loaded the box to stop the run and that left it wide open for easy throws.”

Jackson added a 24-yard field goal and McNary went into intermission ahead 30-12.

South Salem’s first possession of the second half ended with another turnover as Kiser batted a pass into the air and McGrath collected his second interception.

McNary continued to move the ball but failed to add any points as Jackson missed a 26-yard field goal.

After the Saxons got within 30-18 on a 16-yard touchdown pass, Barker threw an interception inside South Salem’s 20-yard line. Another Barker interception, this time returned for a 17-yard touchdown, and a successful two-point conversion got the Saxons within 30-26 of McNary with 6:21 left to play.

“We were still up,” Barker said of what was going through his mind after the second interception. “I just needed to keep playing my game, didn’t need to force anything.”

With the Celtic running game stymied, Barker completed three passes to get McNary to the South Salem 31-yard line. But after two negative runs and an incomplete pass, the Celtics had to punt, giving the ball back to the Saxons with 2:19 remaining.

South Salem’s two minute drill didn’t last long as Jackson intercepted quarterback Elijah Enomoto-Haole on just the second play and McNary took over at the Saxon 8-yard line.

“Our defensive line put really good pressure on the quarterback,” Jackson said. “Alex McGrath made a great play on the ball, tipped it right to me.”

The Celtics ran the ball three times to set up the fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line.

“We went back and forth,” McNary offensive coordinator Brad Emmert said of the play call. “Erik from the view point of opposing teams is not a threat to run. He did a great job of breaking a couple of tackles and getting in. He has to learn that he’s a big kid. Hopefully that helped him out a little bit.”

Barker passed for 239 yards and four touchdowns. Jackson caught nine passes for 94 yards.

McNary had just 86 yards on the ground. Lucas Garvey led the effort with 74 yards on 24 carries.

“We knew that we had to run the football in order to get them (Saxons) to commit to the run and open up the passing game,” Emmert said. “Even though it seemed like the run was getting stopped, a lot of that was bringing linebackers up so then we could play-action them and throw it, which is absolutely what happened.”

The victory was McNary’s first against South Salem since 2013.

“I’m excited about where we’re heading,” Emmert said. “I like how this is bringing the kids together.”

CCMS principal about joy of learning

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

Aaron Persons knew he’d be a good fit as the new principal at Claggett Creek Middle School when he received his first Panthers t-shirt with the words “integrity” and “grit.”

“That’s what I try to encourage kids, to be a part of something special though hard work,” Persons said.

“That’s the reputation Claggett has, we get good results, hard working kids that achieve a lot. The staff has the same reputation, we’ll do whatever it takes.”

Persons was born and raised as one of nine children in Stayton.

After high school, he went to the University of Notre Dame with plans to be a doctor.

However, Persons’ career path changed when he transferred to Willamette University and discovered he enjoyed spending time with his mentee through Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and coaching his younger siblings in basketball more than volunteering in the emergency room at Salem Hospital.

Persons started teaching science at a middle school in Beaverton.

When his own kids were born, Persons has four, ages 6-16, he transferred to Leslie Middle School in Salem, where he taught half time along with being a behavioral specialist for the department of education.

“That’s where I got my first bug,” Persons said. “There were a couple of principals that I worked with, Steve Nelson and Mike Miller, and they gave me some leadership opportunities. That’s the first time I really thought about education leadership.”

Persons’ first job in administration was as an assistant principal at a Title IX middle school in Beaverton.

After four years, he was hired as the principal at another middle school in Beaverton, where he served for five years.

Persons then spent the 2016-17 year as the principal at Walker Middle School in Salem, which got him much closer to his home in Stayton.

“I probably would have stayed there a long time,” Persons said of Beaverton. “I loved it and the school is great but driving to Beaverton, I spent three to four hours in the car everyday for nine years. I didn’t think about it at the time but that’s crazy. You get used to it. You get attached to the community.”

As principal at Walker, Persons got to know the community in west Salem by participating in Rotary and other local groups.

He looks forward to doing the same in Keizer.

“I want to get to know everybody,” Persons said. “Talk to parents and find out what we’re good at and what we need to get better at.”

AVID strategies were used at his previous schools and Persons has attended the summer institute the past six years, which should help him at Claggett Creek, which became just the third AVID National Demonstration middle school in Oregon last spring.

“Obviously they’ve done a lot of things really well here,” Persons said.

“I’m going to come in and be supportive. I want to find out the history and all the work that went into it, which is kind of what I’ve been doing here now. You can see it from the staff. They’re really excited. When they talk about teaching, they know what they’re talking about. They talk about best practices and the AVID strategies that really work.”

As a demo school, CCMS becomes a learning lab where schools all over the country can visit to see AVID at work. Three large showcases are scheduled this school year.

Persons also wants the Keizer community to be aware of all that’s going on at Claggett Creek.

“I certainly want the community to know as much about us as visitors across the state do,” Persons said.

“We’re partners with everyone. We’re looking for ways to help the community and ways the community can partner with us. That’s a big thing for me.”

Persons wants to make learning fun and be sure that every student feels connected to the school.

“I kind of have the same philosophy for students and teachers and the whole team, when people are having fun and loving what they do, they get better results,” Persons said.

“I focus on the joy of learning for our kids. My goal is high levels of achievement for every kid but feel connected. Make sure we’re connecting every kid in some way to their school.”

Persons is replacing Rob Schoepper, who is now the principal at McKay High School.