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Day: November 6, 2017

Celtics fight on, advance to second round

Of the Keizertimes

During every pre-game, halftime and post-game, McNary head coach Jeff Auvinen has challenged his team to respond to adversity and play the next play.

In the first round of the state playoffs, the message finally sunk in as the Celtics came from behind to defeat Grants Pass 22-20 on Friday, Nov. 3.

“We responded well tonight,” Auvinen said.

McNary trailed 20-10 late in the third quarter when quarterback Erik Barker connected with Junior Walling on a wheel route for a 30-yard gain to get the Celtics inside the Cavemen 20-yard line. Barker then found Jakoby Doke for a 12-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 20-16.

After both teams exchanged fumbles, Grants Pass, aided by a personal foul penalty, drove inside the McNary 15-yard line but the Celtics defense got a stop when the Cavemen decided on fourth-and-1 from the 14-yard line to go for the touchdown and throw an incomplete pass in the end zone.

McNary then drove 76 yards on 11 plays, including a 22-yard run by Walling on fourth-and-inches, to get to the Grants Pass 10-yard line. However, the Celtics weren’t able to add any points to the scoreboard, turning the ball over on downs with 5:40 left to play.

Forcing just its second three-and-out of the game, McNary’s defense got the ball back to its offense and Barker needed only one play to throw the winning touchdown, finding senior Kyle McCallister for a 48-yard score with 3:21 remaining.

“I just extended that route because I knew there was nothing,” McCallister said. “Jonny (Williams) had a great block on the outside for me to get to the end zone. I’ve only had one other touchdown this year. That felt amazing.”

Barker, who had to step up in the pocket waiting for someone to get open, said he didn’t actually see McCallister catch it.

“I got lit up,” Barker said. “When I got up, I was just overcome with relief. That was the greatest feeling of the whole night.”

Defensive back Alex McGrath then gave McNary fans even more relief, intercepting Grants Pass quarterback Blain Hobbs with only 1:30 left to play.

McGrath said the interception was a team effort.

“They run that hitch (route) a lot so I kind of knew it was coming and Brayden (Ebbs) did a good job setting the edge,” McGrath said. “Noah Bach tipped it up and it came right to me and I just tried to get up field. It was just insane and pretty magical.”

Walling, who finished with 175 yards on 30 carries, was then able to get a first down and run out the clock.

“That was a huge first down there,” Auvinen said. “We just needed one first down and the line, I can’t say enough about the job they did. They’re getting more belief in each other. The coaches believe in them. We think we can become that powerful, physical team that we want to be and it starts with the O-line and then our H’s are helping in the run game. Our backs are running really well. That was huge.”

McNary started the game strong, marching 80 yards on 14 plays to take a 7-0 lead with 7:43 remaining in the first quarter. Walling scored the touchdown on a 12-yard run.

After Grants Pass missed a 34-yard field goal, the Celtics drove inside the Cavemen 5-yard line but weren’t able to score, throwing an incomplete pass on fourth-and-goal from the 3.

Grants Pass answered with a 28-yard run directly up the gut of the Celtics defense to tie the game at 7-7 early in the second quarter.

Jacob Jackson then made a 26-yard field goal to give the lead back to McNary, 10-7.

The Celtics had opportunities to get more points before halftime but Williams dropped a wide open touchdown pass. After Jose Solorio made a diving catch to get McNary inside the 10-yard line, Barker threw three consecutive incomplete passes and Jackson then missed a 29-yard field goal wide right.

“We should have 24 if not 28 if not 31 in that first half if we make the plays,” Auvinen said. “Our discussion with the offense at halftime was let’s finish drives.”

Grants Pass took its first lead on a 2-yard touchdown run with 5:58 remaining in the third quarter. The Cavemen then completed a 14-yard touchdown pass to stretch their lead to 20-10 with 2:28 to go.

“I knew they were going to be very tough to beat,” Auvinen said. “I knew they were on our level. It’s whoever makes the most plays. We made plays when it counted, more than them tonight, only probably a couple, but that’s all it takes.”

McNary finished with 558 yards of offense.

Barker completed 23 of 38 passes for 337 yards and two touchdowns. McCallister caught three passes for 80 yards. Williams had three receptions for 59 yards and Walling added three catches for 58 yards.

“I thought the kids prepared themselves really well,” Auvinen said. “I thought that the kids knew they belonged to be here and it wasn’t just a goal to make the playoffs. There have been years when I got that impression. This year, we were ready for a win at home.”

The playoff victory was the Celtics first since 2013.

“It’s a nice step for us,” Auvinen said. “We’re going to enjoy tonight. It’s been a while.”

McNary plays at No. 3 West Linn on Friday, Nov. 11. The defending state champions defeated West Albany 63-13 in the first round.

Lady Celts knocked out in opening round

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Of the Keizertimes

Missing Katy Wyatt, McNary’s co-leading scorer and best defensive center midfielder, the Lady Celts couldn’t keep up with Lincoln, falling 3-2 on Saturday, Oct. 28 in the first round of the state playoffs.

McNary gave up its first goal in just the fifth minute as nerves got the best of the Lady Celts and the Lincoln center midfielder took advantage of a poor clearance on a crossed ball in the box, and placed a driven shot to the upper corner from 22 yards out.

“The first five minutes, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” McNary head coach A.J. Nash said. “We were just frozen. But we settled in and realized they weren’t as scary or as good as we were making them seem.”

The Lady Celts earned a corner kick in the 28th minute that was crossed in by junior Gina Munguia. The Lincoln defense was able to play out the initial attempt but Munguia gathered it quickly and sent another cross into the box that was volleyed with the back heel into the upper left corner by junior Abigail Hawley.

McNary goalkeeper Sydney Snapp made a diving save in the 37th minute to keep the game tied 1-1 entering halftime.

Munguia then placed a shot 30 yards out over the Lincoln goalkeeper’s head to put the Celts up 2-1 in the 45th minute.

After two close calls, including another diving save from Snapp and a shot off the left post, Lincoln tied the game 2-2 in the 52nd minute, finding a gap in the McNary defense and hitting a one time shot off a cross from the right side from 12 yards out to the upper right corner.

Lincoln scored the winning goal in the 60th minute, connecting with a cross from the outside in the middle of the box to make it 3-2.

With Wyatt out with mono, Nash played a rotation of girls who were normally fill-ins.

“They couldn’t keep up mentally the quickness of the game and the pace of the game,” Nash said. “They only lost them (Lincoln forwards) probably five times but every time they lost them it was either a dynamic diving save by Sydney or a goal. Ultimately, their center of the park was able to find the ball in dangerous positions.”

The Lady Celts began to push defenders into the attack, and took chances with additional offensive substitutions in the final ten minutes. But Lincoln closed out the game well, playing deep to the corners and locking McNary into their defensive end with good pressure.

“We competed against a great team,” Nash said. “We relentlessly battled all the way to the final whistle just about every game this season so I was incredibly proud of their performance.”

Nash credited Snapp, who finished with 15 saves, for keeping the Lady Celts in the game.

“She had the best game of her season that day, 15 saves and of those, six of them you knew were goals until she saved it,” Nash said. “You were ready to tip your hat to the opponent and then all of the sudden she got a finger on it.”

McNary finished the season 8-4-2, advancing to the state playoffs in back-to-back seasons.

“Last year we were excited to make the playoffs,” Nash. “This year we were disappointed to lose even as the underdog, which tells you the direction of where the program is heading.”

The Lady Celts return all but one starter—Jessy Shore.

“We’ve got some unfinished business,” Nash said. “I’m excited that these freshmen and sophomores that weren’t on the team last year that got their first playoff experience, they won’t be as starstruck.”

Lincoln defeated Aloha on Tuesday, Oct. 31 4-1 to advance to the quarterfinals of the state tournament.