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Author: Derek Wiley

Mountain Valley’s top runners meet Saturday

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

With five of the six fastest times, the Summit girls are the heavy favorites to win the Mountain Valley Conference cross country championship.

The only question is which team will finish second on Saturday, Oct. 27 at Central Oregon Community College in Bend.

Led by senior Anna Chau, South Salem has as good a chance as anyone.

Chau, who won the Greater Valley Conference meet as a freshman and then placed third as a sophomore and second as a junior, has the second fastest time in the Mountain Valley Conference this season, finishing in 17 minutes and 44 seconds at Bush Park on Sept. 8.

Two South Salem freshmen, Taitum Schaap (19:17) and Paige Trautman (19:30), are in the top 20.

Summit, which dominated the 5A state cross country meet last season, has 10 of the top 14 times.

The Storm are led by Fiona Max, a junior who finished second in the state last year, and has the fastest time in the Mountain Valley Conference this season in 17:28.

Sprague senior Elise Abbott has the 11th best time in the conference, finishing in 18:48 on Sept. 21.

McKay is led by Jazmine Liebl in 19:43 and West Salem by Ella Repp in 19:56.

Sabella Alfaro has the fastest McNary time—22:43.

Summit is also the favorite to win the Mountain Valley Conference boys title as the Storm, led by Zachry Weber’s 15:45, have three of the top five times this season.

Bend, South Salem and Mountain View should battle for second.

The Saxons are led by Jay Grant (16:05) and Evan Gonzalez (16:28).

Josh Dixon has paced Sprague this season with a best time of 17:08 and Ramiro Gonzalez will lead McKay with a PR of 17:09.

Ethan and Brennan Whalen have McNary’s best times this season, finishing in 17:50 and 17:58 at the Meriwether National Cross Country Classic in Hillsboro on Sept. 21.

The Mountain Valley Conference varsity boys race will begin Saturday at noon, followed by the varsity girls race at 12:45 p.m.

Whiteaker defeats Claggett, punches ticket to championship game

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

Whiteaker Middle School’s varsity football team stuck with what got it here.

Behind 243 rushing yards, the Wolverines defeated rival Claggett Creek 28-14 on Wednesday at McNary High School to finish the regular season undefeated.

Quarterback Braiden Copeland rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown. Hunter Ruberto added 95 yards and a touchdown.

“We have an offensive line coach and a defensive line coach in Zach Drake and Jason Walling who are amazing guys,” Whiteaker head coach Thomas Larimer said. “The kids love them and the kids play hard for them and the kids knew we were going to run inside the tackles until they turned the lights off here tonight and that’s what we did.”

Whiteaker’s longest drive, 13 plays for 93 yards, came after Claggett got within 20-14 early in the third quarter.

“It was all between the tackles and it was all by design and I’m so proud of the way the offensive line played,” Larimer said. “That 93-yard drive, I’m going to look back on that someday. I don’t know that I can ever be prouder of offensive linemen. What they did out there against a good team was so inspiring.”

Copeland finished the drive with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Ruberto with 8 seconds remaining in the third quarter. He then found Damon Thornton, who had five catches for 67 yards and a touchdown in the game, for the successful two-point try.

After stopping Claggett on fourth-and-2 from the Wolverines 13-yard line, Whiteaker was then able to run out the clock.

The 14 points was a season low for the Panthers, who also entered the game undefeated.

“Having the Atwood’s (Mark and Luke) involved in our program is a real blessing because any time something happens on defense that makes us vulnerable, those guys immediately make adjustments,” Larimer said. “And they put kids where they need to be and they make plays. So much of that is coaching and preparation. It’s not just good athletes making good plays. Those guys are fantastic. We’re really lucky to have them.”

Quarterback Jabol Balos Mesey, a first-year football player, rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown and threw a 40-yard touchdown to Osmid Cano Espinoza to lead Claggett’s offense.

“He’s just a super athletic kid,” Panthers head coach Aaron Carr said. “He’s the kind of kid that you could put anywhere and you wish you had 11 of him. He sees the field so well and he’s quick. Hopefully he continues to play because he’s got a bright future.”

With the win, Whiteaker (7-0) guaranteed its spot in the first Salem-Keizer Middle School Championship game on Thursday, Nov. 1 at 7 p.m.

“Our kids came to play tonight,” Larimer said. “This is a credit to a group of wonderful, talented kids and a fantastic coaching staff. Every one of my assistants is a better coach than I am and they are even better people. I know every kid on my team and every family is better for the experience. I’m really thankful that Principal (Julia) DeWitt allows me to be a part of this program.”

Celtics hammer West Salem

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

SALEM—McNary’s turnaround continued here.

Behind Junior Walling’s 223 yards rushing and four touchdowns, the Celtics defeated West Salem 35-23 last Friday to improve to 3-0 in the Mountain Valley Conference.

Like any good running back, Walling credited the offensive line.

“I give it all to my line,” Walling said. “They gave huge holes for me and made it easy for me and (quarterback) Erik (Barker) to do our thing.”

Senior Wyatt Sherwood returned to the line after missing five games with a concussion.

“We came in this week jacked,” Sherwood said. “We were excited for this game. We were ready. We knew this game was going to be big for us. We took this game and we went at it head on. We hit it hard. We were being the hammer, not the nail. That was the motto tonight, hammer, not the nail. We won it everywhere. Our whole team. We played phenomenal. We’re a great team overall.”

Wearing a new number, 38, Sherwood also lined up at tight end, catching three passes for 44 yards.

“(Offensive coordinator Brad) Emmert just decided that we should put in a tight end package and he chose me as the guy,” Sherwood said. “I’ve never played there. I’ve been offensive and defensive line my whole life. I never caught any passes, no routes, never taken any hits like that. It was a fun experience. It felt pretty natural.”

McNary jumped out to a 14-0 lead at West Salem on two touchdown runs by Walling.

But the Titans answered with 10 points at the end of the first half on a 6-yard touchdown run by quarterback Simon Thompson and then a 32-yard field goal by Kyla Gordon with the clock expired after West Salem got an extra play thanks to a defensive holding penalty on McNary.

The Titans then took the lead when Thompson connected with Anthony Gould for a 33-yard touchdown just 20 seconds into the third quarter.

But West Salem’s lead didn’t last long as Walling broke loose down the McNary sideline for a 42-yard touchdown run to put the Celtics back on top, 21-17, with 10:30 remaining in the third quarter.

After Jacob Jackson added a 5-yard touchdown run to extend McNary’s lead to 28-17, the Titans needed only one play to answer as Gould took a reverse 45 yards to get West Salem within 28-23 entering the fourth quarter.

But McNary’s defense shut out West Salem in the final 12 minutes and Walling scored his fourth touchdown with 2:23 remaining.

Jackson then intercepted Thompson with 2:01 remaining to seal the victory.

Thompson completed just 12 of 35 pass attempts for 275 yards. Gould caught four passes for 78 yards.

“I was really proud of the whole defense,” McNary head coach Jeff Auvinen said. “Nigel (Harris) did a great job of keeping Gould in check. The biggest part of our game plan was to not let him beat us. He still scored two touchdowns.That guy is really good. Oregon State signed him for a reason. He’s really fast.”

Gould predicted six touchdowns on Twitter, which McNary’s defense was well aware of.

“It just motivated me even more,” Harris said. “I just kept it classy. I didn’t say a word to him. We just had to be mentally tough. We had a good game plan going in and I was confident. (Safety) Griffin (Oliveira) was over the top. Just being aggressive. I didn’t go in scared. I think in previous years we were. This year we knew we had it.”

West Salem tight end Micah Pugh caught six passes for 144 yards.

Barker completed 11 of 19 passes for 156 yards and also rushed for 62 yards.

The Celtics close the regular season this Friday at home against South Salem with a chance to win the conference championship.

Whiteaker undefeated at volleyball tournament

Whiteaker Middle School’s eighth grade volleyball team, coached by Scott Coburn, went undefeated to win the Corvallis Boys and Girls Club tournament on Saturday, Oct. 13.

Opening with a win over undefeated Santiam Christian, the Wolverines went 8-0 in pool play.

Moving on to a single elimination tournament, Whiteaker defeated Santiam Christian again, 25-19, 27-25, to reach the finals.

Facing Walker, the Wolverines won 25-23 and 25-12 to claim the championship.

Whiteaker was led by Maddie Corpe, setting up hitters Emily Blagg, Hailey Schwinof, Bella Rodriguez and Madison Morse. Savana Brownell and Anna Sponable played strong defense at the net. Emmie Taylor and Rodriguez led the team in passing while Schwinof and Taylor had outstanding days serving.

Four players were unable to make the trip due to other obligations. But Brookelynn Jackson, Holly Provost, Ryleigh Mulhern and Kayla Toavs will rejoin the team as they complete their league season. The team is 7-1 in league with two matches to play.

Whiteaker will finish the season against Claggett Creek on Monday, Oct. 22 at McNary. B team matches start at 3:30 p.m. followed by the A team match at 5.

Keizer Homegrown brings The Quality of Life to the stage

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

Jesse Whitehead had not directed a Keizer Homegrown Theatre show in four years when he received a phone call from the troupe’s founder—Linda Baker.

She had a script, The Quality of Life, for Whitehead to read.

“I didn’t know anything about the play so I didn’t know what to expect and I read it and I was just really, really moved by it. I called her back and I said, ‘I hate you because I have to direct this now.’”

The Quality of Life opens Friday Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. in the Keizer Cultural Center, 980 Chemawa Rd. NE, with additional shows Oct. 20, 26-27 and Nov. 2-3 at 7 p.m. and matinees on Oct. 21, 28 and Nov. 4 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15.

Written by Jane Anderson, the play tells the story of Dinah and Bill, a devout, church-going couple from Ohio who are struggling to keep their lives intact after the death of their daughter.

Dinah is compelled to reconnect with her left-leaning cousins in Northern California who are going through their own trials. Jeannette and Neil have lost their home to a wildfire and Neil has cancer. However, they seem to have accepted their situation with good humor, living in a yurt on their burn site and celebrating life with hits of marijuana and red wine.

While Bill and Dinah are both moved and perplexed by their cousins’ composure, their sympathy turns to rage when they find out Jeannette is planning to take her own life to avoid a life of grief without her beloved Neil.

“There’s a lot of interesting conversations about marijuana, right to life, the afterlife,” Whitehead said. “A lot of interesting subjects get broached in the dialogue. It’s a very talking play. I think people will find a surprising amount of laughs. They can enjoy some really good acting by local actors.”

Robert Herzog and Franca Hernandez play Neil and Jeannette. Dinah and Bill are portrayed by Danna Swanenberg and Tim Jaeger.

“Act two is my favorite part of the show,” Whitehead said. “Things really come to a head and actors get to really act with each other and it’s very moving and powerful. I’m really looking forward to other people having similar reactions that I did.

“It doesn’t necessarily come to any hard conclusions. It raises a lot of issues and asks the audience to think about them and I hope they are thinking about them long after the play is over.”

To reserve tickets, email [email protected]

Life of Wiley: Imagine a full league schedule

Close your eyes and imagine a world where McNary and West Salem, both 4-0 in league-play, are meeting this Friday for the Mountain Valley Conference championship.

Now open them and check back into reality.

After going 3-0 in Bend last Friday, McNary, West Salem and Sprague have to be wishing they had played a full league schedule this season.

Sure, those first five non-league games, many of them against the state’s elite programs (Lake Oswego, Sheldon, West Linn and Central Catholic) prepared the Salem-Keizer teams for conference play and maybe they are all better for it.

But couldn’t the same have been accomplished with three non-league games? West Salem could have still played Lake Oswego and Sheldon. McNary could have still gone to West Linn and Tualatin.

What was the point of the Celtics traveling 300 miles to Tumwater, Wash. to lose 56-13?

McNary, which instead would have played winnable games against Summit (1-6) and Mountain View (4-3), definitely didn’t save any on travel costs by not taking an additional trip to Bend.

Next season the Celtics are scheduled to play two games in Medford.

Then there’s the Mountain Valley Conference championship, which the winner of McNary and West Salem will probably claim, especially the Titans, who thanks to a non-league game against Bend play every team in the conference except Summit.

But without a full league schedule, is there really an outright champion?

Who will at least take a giant step to finishing atop the Mountain Valley Conference standings?

My picks:

McKay at Silverton

The Royal Scots followed up their first win of the season with a 35-7 loss to Dallas, who earned just its second victory of the season. Now, McKay gets Silverton, who opened the season 6-0 before falling to Crescent Valley last Friday. Despite the loss, the Foxes are still one of the best teams in 5A and should have no problem with McKay.

Pick: Foxes 40, Royal Scots 14

South Albany at North Salem

The Vikings have dropped two games in a row since earning their first win at McKay. But the Red Hawks come to North Salem on a four-game losing streak, getting outscored 177 to 20.

Pick: Vikings 34, Red Hawks 17

Summit at South Salem

The Saxons, nursing a three-game losing streak since coming from behind to defeat Sprague, host 1-6 Summit, who were just throttled at home by the previously winless Olympians. While who will finish atop the Mountain Valley Conference standings is still in doubt, the Storm appear destined to be at the bottom.

Pick: Saxons 40, Storm 14

Mountain View at Sprague

The Olympians didn’t just squeak out their first win of the season. They dominated Summit, which makes me wonder how good any of the Bend schools are. Mountain View also defeated Summit, 35-12 or by 12 less points than Sprague did. While the Cougars are coming off an 18-point loss to West Salem, Mountain View battled the Titans into the third quarter. The Cougars defense just couldn’t stop West Salem’s passing attack, allowing 475 yards through the air. But Sprague doesn’t have the same threat.

Pick: Cougars 35, Olympians 28

McNary at West Salem

Wow! What a difference two weeks makes. After starting the season 0-5, the Celtics are riding a two-game winning streak, defeating Sprague for the first time since 2014 and then winning 37-26 at Bend, which entered the game 5-1 and No. 10 in the OSAA power rankings.

Were the Lava Bears overrated or has McNary made unbelievable progress? Probably a little of both. At West Salem, the Celtics should find out just how good they are. The Titans, projected to be one of the top teams in the state in the preseason, have had disappointing showings against Lake Oswego and Sheldon, but with a strong finish could still sneak into the top 10 of the power rankings.

While McNary’s defense has shown improvement over the past two weeks, West Salem’s speed and big play threats, particularly Oregon State-bound receiver Anthony Gould, provides a tough challenge for the Celtics.

Pick: Titans 44, Celtics 30

Derek Wiley is the associate editor of the Keizertimes.

Last week: 4-1, Overall: 24-13

Celtics show how far they’ve come at Bend

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

McNary (2-5) is not the same football team it was a month ago.

That was made clear last Friday night in Bend when after falling behind 12-0 the Celtics roared back to win 37-26.

“A month ago, they might have cashed in their chips,” McNary head coach Jeff Auvinen said. “We’ve been working on trying to answer the bell and trying to respond when adversity happens and play that next play. I think they responded really well.”

Senior Griffin Oliveira started the comeback, catching a touchdown pass from Erik Barker.

“It almost felt like it was going to be another one of those (blowout losses),” Oliveira said. “Everyone put their head down, but we came back and got a score. There was some talking on the sidelines and we decided that wasn’t how we wanted our season to go. We stepped up and made some things happen.”

Thanks to a Nigel Harris interception and touchdown on the final play of the first half, the Celtics took a 21-19 lead into halftime but they didn’t feel good about it.

“We were not very happy with how we played in that first half, giving up three scores on defense, really being able to do whatever we want on offense but not having all 11 guys on the same page,” Auvinen said.

“When we had our halftime talk, that’s when we really stepped it up and took it to a whole other level that we hadn’t taken it to yet,” Oliveira said. “We were up two but there was a lot of room to make way more plays and we finally started making those.”

Junior Walling, who finished with 133 total yards and three touchdowns, rushed for two touchdowns in the third quarter to extend the Celtics lead to 34-19.

After Bend scored its only points of the second half on a kickoff return, Jacob Jackson made a 29-yard field goal.

“That second half they were pretty much doing whatever they wanted to whenever they wanted to,” Auvinen said of McNary’s offense. “We had a great mix of run and pass.”

Barker completed 18 of 28 passes for 257 yards and a touchdown. Oliveira caught five passes for 68 yards. Jackson hauled in three for 67 yards.

Walling also led McNary’s defense, finishing with 11 tackles and two sacks. Dyami Rios has six tackles and three sacks. Jackson and Robert Benson each added seven tackles. Devyn Schurr had six tackles and an interception.

Bend entered the game 5-1 and No. 10 in the OSAA power rankings.

The win was the Celtics second in a row after beginning the season 0-5.

“We switched our practice plan up a lot the last few weeks and focused on toughness and changed up the culture a little bit,” said Oliveira, who also recovered a fumble for a touchdown against Bend. “We’ve been hitting the sleds a lot, lots of running, physical drills, way more hitting.”

After allowing more than 500 yards on the ground to North Medford and Tumwater, McNary’s defense held Bend to 96 yards rushing on 28 carries.

“Coaches have really emphasized getting all 11 on the same game plan,” Auvinen said. “I think kids have started to develop a trust with each other as far as everyone is going to do their job so I don’t need to do someone else’s job. I think they’re developing that. Kids are learning their assignments better and we’re getting a little bit tougher, getting our pad level down, getting a little more physical, running our feet a little more. I think it’s a combination of all those factors.”

McNary will find out this Friday if it’s ready to take the next step as the Celtics travel to West Salem.

Both squads are 2-0 in the Mountain Valley Conference.

Slowing down the Titan offense, which features Simon Thompson, the 6A state track and field champion in the 110 hurdles, at quarterback, who passed for 475 yards and six touchdowns last Friday against Mountain View, and receiver Anthony Gould, an Oregon State commit who has 837 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns this season, will challenge McNary’s defense.

Tight end Micah Pugh, who caught eight passes for 214 yards and touchdown against Mountain View, is also a concern.

“They’ve got some very good athletes,” Auvinen said. “Skill kids are the strength of their team but they have some good solid line kids as well. They’re an interesting mix, kind of like we are. We’ll try to take away their playmakers the best we can and try to make them do things and beat us with people they haven’t relied on in the past. We’ll try to make them look elsewhere.”

McNary should get a boost to its line as senior Wyatt Sherwood is expected back after suffering a concussion and neck injury on Sept. 7 at West Linn.

“He’s pretty excited, which makes me excited,” Auvinen said.

McNary opens drama season Oct. 18

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

The McNary drama department will have a guest director when it opens its 2018-19 season with Death by Design on Thursday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. in the Ken Collins Theater.

McNary English teacher Laura Reid serves on the Keizer Homegrown Theatre Board of Directors but hasn’t directed a show at the high school since Linda Baker was the drama teacher.

“I really enjoy directing and it’s great to be back,” Reid said. “This is a really good bunch of kids and it’s been really fun to interpret the script and see what the kids bring to it. It’s kind of an artistic party.”

Death by Design: A Comedy with Murder, written by Rob Urbinati, is set during a weekend in an English country manor in 1932.

Edward, a playwright played by Connor McCormack, and his wife Sorel, an actress portrayed by Rachel Herriges, flee London and head to Cookham after a disastrous opening night. But various guests arrive unexpectedly – a conservative politician (Crash Diavmet), a fiery socialist (Michael Zwemke), a nearsighted ingénue (Elise Myers) and a zany modern dancer (Mercedes Feinauer) – each with a long-held secret.

When one of the guests is murdered, it’s left to Bridget (Madelyn Hurst), the feisty Irish maid with a macabre interest in homicide, to solve the crime.

Jonathan Echavarria Valladares plays Jack, a cockney, charming, clever chauffeur.

Stage managers are Kaitlyn Duncanson, Kendall Tacchini and Hannah Collee.

Additional performances of Death by Design are scheduled for Friday, Oct. 19 at 3 and 7 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 20 at 2 and 7 p.m.

Tickets are $5 and available at mcnary-theatre.ticketleap.com.

McNary’s entire performing arts department (drama, orchestra and choir) will combine for a Holiday show on Dec. 14-15 at 7 p.m.

For the school’s musical, drama teacher Tom Cavanaugh wanted to pick a show that would draw interest from the entire student body.

“I’m really trying to reach out to students who don’t traditionally do theatre and I thought Grease would bring out a bunch of kids,” Cavanaugh said.

Although he wasn’t able to announce the show before auditions last spring, 94 students came out.

“We got a lot of kids who had never done a show before but I think we could have gotten even more if we would have been able to say out loud we’re doing Grease,” said Cavanaugh, who was able to cast 76 students, including 26 boys.

“It’s the most (boys) I’ve ever had in any show,” Cavanaugh said. “That’s pretty impressive.”

Grease is scheduled for Jan 10-12 and 17-19.

McNary will then hold its annual One Act Festival on March 14-16.

The final show of the season, Treasure Island on May 16-18 and 23-25, will give Cavanaugh the chance to teach sword fighting.

“The first couple of years I just really wanted to pick some stuff to showcase a bunch of different things we’re capable of doing,” Cavanaugh said.

McNary legend coaching Whiteaker

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

Luke Atwood is easy to spot at Whiteaker Middle School football practices.

He’s the coach with his 4-year-old son on his shoulders.

“Coaching at Whiteaker is such a nice life balance for getting to spend time with my kids,” Atwood said. “There’s more flexibility, which really helps me at this point in my life.”

As a player, Atwood was quarterback of McNary’s 1996 football team that won a league championship and reached the semifinals of the state playoffs.

After Atwood graduated, the Celtics then won the state title in 1997.

“Those guys had so much playoff experience and our team was predominantly juniors and with the guys they were returning the next year, they were heavy favorites to win state and they went out and did it,” said Atwood, who was at McNary during the glory years.

“I had the best receiver (Shawn Kintner) to throw to the school has ever had,” Atwood said. “I had the experience of playing with the best football player (Aaron Koch) our school has ever had. I played with the best baseball player (Mark Hills) McNary has ever had. I got to play with amazing athletes in my three sports and be surrounded by the best so it was an amazing experience. The coaches were the best,  Vic Backlund and Tom Smythe. I was completely spoiled by my teammates and coaches.”

After high school, Atwood played three sports at Willamette University—football, baseball and basketball.

A couple of weeks before graduation, he received a call from Smythe, offering him a spot on the Vienna Viking Football Club in Austria, where Smythe coached in the spring.

Atwood played seven years in Austria, winning two European championships as a receiver and two at quarterback.

“I got out of football before I was 30 and that seemed like a good time,” Atwood said. “Everybody was starting to look younger and I didn’t know their names. It was a different club and I had done everything that I wanted to so why not move on to the next chapter at that point.”

While playing in Austria, Atwood coached with Smythe at McNary in the fall. He was the defensive backs coach when the Celtics won their second state title in 2001.

“In 2001 it was surprising because going into the season we had some great players but we weren’t favored to win it like we were in ‘97,” Atwood said. “Credit Tom Smythe, he told those boys right away that the plan was to win it and they believed it and went and did it.”

Atwood then followed Smythe to Lakeridge in 2009.

After one more season at McNary as the head JV coach, Atwood quit coaching not long after his daughter was born six years ago.

Hearing Whiteaker, where Atwood once played, needed an assistant, he called head coach Thomas Larimer.

Larimer had heard all about Atwood’s playing days at McNary.

“He was the kid that could play any position and be the best player on the field,” Larimer said.

Atwood, who serves as Whiteaker’s defensive coordinator, is just as good a coach.

“Every week I feel like I’m going to school,” Larimer said. “He’s so much better a coach than I am.”

Atwood enjoys being back on the field, coaching a group of players that includes his nephew.

“I didn’t realize until a little bit ago that I only see them in their pads because I don’t work at the school and I saw a kid out of his pads and it really makes you realize that they’re kids,” Atwood said. “When they’re in their pads they’re bigger than me and they hit and they run but when you see them out of their pads it gives you a bigger heart for them for sure. You realize how influential you can be for them. It’s a real positive experience witnessing how I can be positive for them and teach them, keep them safe out there with what I know.”

Wiley: Celtics don’t lack confidence

McNary could have easily given up.

Opening the season with five straight losses, getting outscored by more than 170 points.

Who could blame them?

But the Celtics ran out into the field last Friday as confident, as loose and as ready as they had all season. And it paid off with a 21-14 win, their first of the season and first over Sprague since 2014.

“We stayed positive the entire season,” McNary quarterback Erik Barker said. “We knew a win was going to come and all that mattered was league. We flushed those first five games out, completely. We’re focusing on league now and focusing on ourselves and getting better every week.”

The five games, four of which came against top 10 teams in Oregon and Washington, prepared McNary  for its Mountain Valley Conference schedule.

“That was the toughest competition I’ve ever faced,” Barker said. “I think it made all of us way better.”

What clearly stood out against Sprague was McNary’s defense.

Gashed in previous games, the Celtics held Sprague to 150 yards on the ground, 65 of which came on two carries—31 and 34 yard touchdown runs by Landon Davis.

“We know they’re a physical team,” McNary linebacker Junior Walling said of Sprague. “We prepared all week to stop that run game and I think our defense came out strong.”

Can the Celtics carry the momentum over the Santiam Pass to Bend?

My picks:

Dallas at McKay

McNary wasn’t the only Salem-Keizer squad to get its first victory of the season as the Royal Scots won 17-15 at Corvallis last Friday. McKay gets another winnable game at home against 1-5 Dallas. The Dragons only win came at North Salem but then they lost to Corvallis. Two of Dallas’ other losses were by just one point so maybe the Dragons are a little better than their record. Still, I’ll take the team coming off a win, not the one on a three-game losing streak.

Pick: Royal Scots 14, Dragons 13

North Salem at Central

The Vikings followed up their first win of the season by getting shut out at home against undefeated West Albany. But the Bulldogs have made a lot of teams look bad, including North Salem’s next opponent—Central.

The Panthers do have three wins but two of those came against 1-5 McKay and 2-4 South Albany. Central’s most impressive win came against Crescent Valley (4-2), who shut out North Salem 34-0 to open the season.

Pick: Panthers 30, Vikings 24

Sprague at Summit

The Olympians are one of three teams traveling to Bend this Friday and get the easiest draw as Summit (1-5) has already lost to Mountain View and Bend this season. Looking ahead at games with Mountain View (4-2) and West Salem (3-3), this is Sprague’s best chance to avoid a winless season. After getting close at South Salem and McNary, the Olympians finally get their first victory.

Pick: Olympians 20, Storm 17

West Salem at Mountain View

While the Cougars have the better record, the Titans have played a much more difficult schedule with games against Lake Oswego and Sheldon. The last time West Salem played a Bend school, the Titans defeated the Lava Bears by 29 points on Sept. 7. West Salem should have similar success against Mountain View as the Titans show they’re the team to beat in the Mountain Valley Conference.

Pick: Titans 48, Cougars 30

McNary at Bend

The Lava Bears are a shining example of just how flawed OSAA’s power rankings system is. Bend enters the game No. 10, ahead of No. 12 West Salem, who the Lava Bears lost to 56-27. While Bend is benefitting from a 5-1 record, it just hasn’t played nearly as strong a schedule as West Salem or its next opponent—McNary. The Lava Bears do have a one-point win over North Medford, who dominated McNary to open the season. Bend also defeated South Salem in a game the Saxons led in the fourth quarter. The Lava Bears belong somewhere in the 20-25 range of the power rankings, not the top 10, and McNary, riding high off its first in of the season, will put them there.

Pick: Celtics 34, Lava Bears 28

Derek Wiley is the Associate Editor of the Keizertimes.

Last week: 3-1

Overall: 20-12