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Celtics no match for West Salem

Of the Keizertimes

Another home game against a top 10 team in the state resulted in another blowout loss for McNary as the Celtics fell to West Salem 57-6 on Friday, Oct. 27 to close the regular season.

“It was Sprague revisited,” McNary head coach Jeff Auvinen said after the game. “One bad thing happens and we just lost our will. We need to be able to play the next play and we’ve been talking about that but obviously we’re not very good at it yet.”

After McNary’s first possession ended with an Erik Barker interception, the Titans scored on just their third play as West Salem running back Jacob Denning went untouched for a 31-yard touchdown. A successful two-point attempt gave the Titans an 8-0 lead with 8:02 remaining in the first quarter.

The Celtics were able to get within 8-6 early in the second quarter. After Barker connected with Alan Jefferson on two passes for 43 yards to get McNary deep into West Salem territory, Barker found Junior Walling for a 3-yard touchdown.

But then West Salem’s offense really began to heat up, scoring four touchdowns on its next five plays from scrimmage to take a commanding 36-6 lead with 7:11 remaining in the second quarter.

The Titans ran 13 plays in the second quarter for 265 yards and five touchdowns.

After Quarterback Grant Thies threw a 61-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Gould, Denning rushed for a 70-yard score. Denning added a 5-yard touchdown after a Barker interception and then 68-yard and 2-yard touchdown runs to give West Salem a 43-6 lead at halftime.

“We didn’t take on blocks. We didn’t tackle,” Auvinen said. “You’re not going to win any games against any good opponents when you don’t take on blocks and you don’t tackle. We didn’t cover people, the trifecta. That film is going to be tough to watch.”

McNary’s defense forced a punt to start the second half. However, a promising drive ended with Barker fumbling at the Titan 15-yard line.

West Salem then added to its lead with 1:06 remaining in the third quarter as Thies threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Andy Moreno.

Both teams emptied their benches in the fourth quarter with McNary senior Casey Toavs and junior Ryan Bamford splitting time at quarterback.

The Titans took advantage of a McNary fumble to score a 1-yard touchdown with 7:16 remaining.

Walling rushed for 91 yards and caught to passes for 14 yards to lead the Celtic offense. Barker completed 12 of 26 passes for 140 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.

Despite the loss, McNary (6-3) climbed to No. 14 in the final OSAA power rankings and will host No. 19 Grants Pass (6-3) on Friday, Nov. 3 in the first round of the state playoffs.

“Every team in the playoffs is going to be a team that deserves to be there,” Auvinen said. “They’re going to make plays on us. We can’t just fold our tents when someone makes a play on us. We’ve got to rise up. We’ve got to come together as a group. We’ve got to be tougher.”