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Life of Wiley: The battle of the winless

A league championship won’t be on the line when Sprague visits McNary tonight.

In 6A, where teams play only four conference games, league championships don’t really exist anymore.

No, the Celtics and Olympians will compete for much more.


Playing two of the toughest schedules in the state, McNary and Sprague are both 0-5. The Celtics have been outscored 251-80, the Olympians 200 to 103.

“We are trying to get better every week and I’m sure they are, too,” McNary head coach Jeff Auvinen said. “I think it will be a battle. I think it will be a war with both teams pretty hungry. They do a great job over there as coaches and they’ll be as hungry as we are.”

Which team will get the monkey off their back? Whose nightmare will continue?

My picks:

McKay at Corvallis

The Royal Scots (0-5) are the other winless Salem-Keizer team and their prospects don’t look good after falling at home to North Salem 52-31 last Friday. Looking at their final four games, Corvallis (2-3) may be their best shot. The Spartans are coming off a 20-point loss to Silverton and 45-point loss at Crescent Valley. But in between, Corvallis did knock off Dallas.

Prediction: Spartans 30, Royal Scots 20

West Albany at North Salem

The Vikings (1-4) are celebrating their first win of the season at McKay but now host undefeated West Albany (5-0), which unlike North Salem and McKay has thrived moving down to 5A. West Albany and North Salem have only one common opponent—Crescent Valley. The Bulldogs won 20-7. The Vikings lost 34-0. North Salem won last season’s matchup 22-21. West Albany gets revenge.

Prediction: Bulldogs 34, Vikings 17

South Salem at West Salem

The Titans (2-3) open Mountain Valley Conference play after losing back-to-back games to Sheldon and Beaverton. The Saxons (2-3) couldn’t carry over the momentum of defeating rival Sprague, falling to Bend 34-24 last week. While the two teams share the same record, West Salem has played the much tougher schedule. The Titans, projected to be one of the top teams in the state, have got off to a disappointing start, but should have enough fire power on offense to get past South Salem at home.

Prediction: Titans 50, Saxons 28

Sprague at McNary

A win here would obviously be huge for both teams, and a loss just as devastating. Opening the season with five straight losses to the likes of West Linn, Tualatin, Tigard and Central Catholic is one thing but to fall to another 0-5 team down the road in the same school district is another. Sprague (0-5) already has a bad loss, falling to South Salem 21-20 in a game it led 20-0 entering the fourth quarter. But the Olympians at least showed they are capable of beating a team, even if for just three quarters.

McNary (0-5) has hardly been competitive and its 55-27 loss to North Medford to open the season is looking even worse after the Black Tornado have lost three games in a row, including two to Mountain Valley Conference teams Bend and Mountain View.

While the Celtics schedule has been a bit tougher, McNary’s defense has struggled to stop the run, giving up more than 500 yards to North Medford and Tumwater. And Sprague has the running back in Chris Sharp (694 yards and nine touchdowns this season) to take advantage.

A much more experienced Olympian squad came to Keizer and dominated McNary 62-6 last season. The Celtics haven’t forgotten. While Sprague enters this matchup hungry for its first win, McNary is starving, for both the taste of victory and sweet revenge.

Prediction: Celtics 30, Olympians 27

Derek Wiley is the Associate Editor of the Keizertimes.

Last week: 2-3, Overall: 17-11