The Keizertimes is expanding its high school sports coverage this fall and that begins this week.
As part of that extended coverage, I’ll be breaking down each week’s football slate with my prediction for each game.
Here’s Week 1:
West Albany at McKay
The Royal Scots open the season in a new league against a familiar opponent.
After struggling in the the 6A Greater Valley Conference the past four years, both programs are moving down to 5A, where the Bulldogs once ruled, winning the 2008, 2008 and 2013 state titles.
West Albany has won the past three matchups between these teams, including a 46-14 blowout last season. That’s all I really need to know. But with both teams breaking in new quarterbacks, I expect a lower score.
Prediction: Bulldogs 20, Royal Scots 14
North Salem at Crescent Valley
The Vikings are another program moving down from 6A to 5A and start on the road against a team that began last season 8-0 and reached the state quarterfinals. While North Salem brings back experience at quarterback and along the line and should find 5A more competitive, the Raiders are expected to once again be one of the top teams in 5A.
Prediction: Raiders 31, Vikings 21
Newberg at South Salem
The Tigers went 2-7 last season but played in the brutally tough Three Rivers League with the likes of West Linn, Tigard, Tualatin and Lake Oswego. I could argue that Newberg was much better than its record but most of the losses weren’t even close. Led by senior Ashton Adams, I expect the Saxons to win the line of scrimmage and the game.
Prediction: Saxons 34, Tigers 27
Liberty at Sprague
The Olympians open the season with one of its most inexperienced teams in years against an up-and-coming Falcons squad that finished the 2017 regular season on a five-game winning streak before falling in the first round of the state playoffs. Liberty returns starting quarterback Brad Norman as well as a collection of weapons headlined by senior receiver Aidan Maloney. I’m confident Sprague will figure it out eventually but the Olympians will take their lumps early.
Prediction: Falcons 30, Olympians 22
West Salem at Lake Oswego
This is a game fans from all over Oregon will be watching as the Titans and Lakers are projected to be two of the top teams in the state. In OSAAtoday’s preseason 6A football coaches poll, Lake Oswego was voted No. 7, just one spot ahead of No. 8 West Salem. And that’s not all they have in common. Both squads were eliminated by state runner-up South Medford in the 2017 playoffs, West Salem in the quarterfinals and then Lake Oswego in the semifinals. Both are loaded at the skill positions. Both have rebuilt lines and both have talented senior quarterbacks, who have waited their turn, making their first start. Can the Titans show that they’re not only the best team in the new Mountain Valley Conference but also one of the best in the state? I’m voting yes.
Prediction: Titans 48, Lakers 44
North Medford at McNary
Two years ago, the Black Tornado came to Keizer and knocked around McNary 38-17. North Medford was clearly more physical and the Celtics couldn’t handle it. But last year McNary responded with its own 40-20 whooping at North Medford, racking up more than 500 yards of offense. Although the Black Tornado bring a much different challenge in a season opener than what North Salem has given the Celtics the past four years, a team that has preached toughness and tenacity all off-season shouldn’t get pushed around.
Prediction: Celtics 37, Black Tornado 34
Derek Wiley is associate editor of the Keizertimes.