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By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes
McNary senior Tim Kiser expects to face a mad Sprague team, fresh off a 35-0 loss to West Salem, when the Olympians come to Keizer on Friday, Sept. 15.
“They’re going to be angry,” Kiser said. “They’re going to want revenge and they’re going to want to go hard against whatever comes next, which means we have to play harder.”
McNary head coach Jeff Auvinen expects to face a better team than the Sprague squad that lost five fumbles, including four in the first half, in the blowout loss at West Salem.
“They’re a good football team,” Auvinen said of the Olympians. “They showed that against South (Salem). I think they’re going to be primed and ready to play their better ball and we’re going to be primed to take another step up, too. I think it’s going to be a good ball game.”
Sprague had lost to West Salem in 2016 as well when the Olympians followed up that performance with 350 yards rushing and a 50-21 win over the Celtics.
“We didn’t do a great job of manning our gaps,” McNary head coach Jeff Auvinen said of last season’s game with Sprague. “They’re going to try to be a physical team. We need to be able to defeat blocks and go in our gap and tackle well. I think we’re more disciplined this year. I don’t know if we’re more physical inside but I think we’re more disciplined and I think it’s going to benefit us.”
While Sprague graduated one half of its running back tandem in Dane McKinney, who scored two touchdowns against the Celtics last season, Noah Mellen returns as well as quarterback Spencer Plant and tight end/defensive end Teagan Quitoriano, who has committed to the University of Oregon.
“We’ve got to play harder up front than we have ever played,” Kiser said. “They have a good offense but I feel like if we step up and practice harder and show them a better defense and throw them off and get into their heads a little bit, and by doing that we have somebody else (McNary) that deserves to be up in the top (of the GVC) than just them (Sprague) and West.”
The Olympians return only one starter on the offensive line.
“They’ve got a young line, a bunch of inexperienced guys, but they do a good job of coaching line over there,” Auvinen said.
Auvinen pointed to limiting penalties and winning the turnover margin as keys to the game. McNary has a plus-5 turnover margin through the first two games but has 185 yards in penalties.
“I think if we play well, we’ll be in good shape,” Auvinen said. “We tell the kids all of the time, ‘Do what you can to get better and the scoreboard will take care of itself.’”