It’s homecoming week at McNary.
Monday was the coronation assembly, Wednesday the powder puff game, Friday the varsity football game and crowning of the queen and king and then Saturday a dance.
It all couldn’t come at a better time.
Mostly, the Celtics need something to celebrate.
Playing in Tumwater, Wash., McNary dropped to 0-4 last Friday, falling 56-13 in another game that was never really competitive. The T-Birds led 43-6 at halftime.
The Celtics have played as difficult a schedule as anyone in the state and host South Medford, last season’s 6A state runner-up, for homecoming, in their final non-conference game. After graduating 19 seniors, the Panthers (3-1) aren’t nearly as talented as a year ago, squeaking by McMinnville 21-12 at home last week.
So will the homecoming celebration include the Celtics first win of the season?
Here are my picks:
West Salem at Beaverton
The Titans and Beavers have similar resumes. Both are 2-2 and have not been able to compete against the elite teams in the state with West Salem getting blown out by Lake Oswego and Sheldon and Beaverton losing by 35 points to Clackamas. The last time these two squads met, Beaverton won 41-28 in the second round of the 2016 state playoffs. West Salem gets revenge.
Prediction: Titans 45, Beavers 34
Bend at South Salem
Moving up to 6A, the Lava Bears have been one of the biggest surprises, starting the season 3-1, with their most impressive win coming at North Medford, 29-28, in the third week of the season. But the last time Bend came to Salem, it lost by 29 points to West Salem. The Saxons are riding high off a 21-20 win over rival Sprague. Can South Salem carry over the momentum or is it due for a let down?
Prediction: Saxons 27, Lava Bears 24
Tigard at Sprague
The Olympians difficult schedule continues against undefeated Tigard, No. 4 in the power rankings and in OSAAtoday’s coaches poll. The Tiger defense has allowed just 57 points this season, the third lowest of any 6A team in the state, while Sprague’s offense has lacked its usual firepower of previous teams.
Prediction: Tigers 44, Olympians 14
North Salem at McKay
The good news is either the Royal Scots or Vikings will celebrate their first victory of the season at the end of this one. Both have been close, with McKay falling to South Albany by four, and North Salem losing to Corvallis by seven. The Vikings won last year and are the more experienced group.
Prediction: Vikings 30, Royal Scots 28
South Medford at McNary
For the first time since opening the season on Aug. 31, the Celtics return home, where they are 2-4 over the last two years, including a 39-35 loss to McMinnville on homecoming last season. While McNary hasn’t shown anything over the last two weeks to appear like a team on the verge of a breakthrough, South Medford hasn’t played on the same level as Tualatin and Tumwater. The Panthers defense allowed 275 yards passing last week to McMinnville. If McNary’s offensive line can give him time, Erik Barker should be able to take similar advantage. South Medford’s offense also isn’t as dynamic as what the Celtic’s defense has seen this season. The lumps and bruises McNary has taken the first four games should help the Celtics down the stretch and that begins with South Medford.
Prediction: Celtics 28, Panthers 24
Derek Wiley is Associate Editor of the Keizertimes.
Last week: 4-1, Overall: 15-8