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Author: Derek Wiley

Celtics come together to defeat Sprague

Of the Keizertimes

To earn its first win of the season, McNary had to play as one.

“I think the big thing tonight was we knew we had to come together,” McNary senior Jacob Jackson said after the Celtics’ 21-14 victory over Sprague on Friday, Oct. 5.

“And when we came together we saw what we could do and we just got so excited about it that it showed and I thought we played really well because of it.”

McNary jumped out to a 14-0 lead over Sprague, thanks to two touchdown passes by Erik Barker, a 3-yard dump off to Junior Walling in the first quarter and then a 30-yard bomb to Nigel Harris in the second.

But while the Celtic offense struggled in the second half, the Olympians answered with 34 and 31 yard touchdown runs by Landon Davis to tie the game with 11:30 remaining.

Finally finding a groove with outside runs by Harris and Jackson to get inside the Sprague 5-yard line, Barker gave the lead back to McNary on a 3-yard touchdown run with 5:18 left to play.

“We called that play, emptied the backfield and coach (Brad Emmert) told me to run it in,” Barker said. “I saw a huge hole open up. I couldn’t ask for better guys up front.”

McNary senior Griffin Oliveira then intercepted Sprague quarterback Ethan Flanigan with 1:21 remaining to seal the victory.

The interception was Oliveira’s second of the game as theOlympians turned the ball over five times—four interceptions and one fumble.

“Our defense stepped up so much,” Barker said. “They shut down their run game completely and made them pass and we knew that’s where they kind of struggled. That’s really what won the game.”

Sprague finished with 151 yards rushing. Chris Sharp had 77 on 21 carries.

“We knew what they were going to do,” McNary senior lineman Joshua Schmeltzer said. “They were going to run up the middle and try to push it down our throats and we just met the challenge and came together.”

Barker completed 16 of 26 passes for 185 yards. Harris caught three passes for 95 yards.

Walling rushed for 41 yards on 14 carries.

The win was McNary’s first over Sprague since 2014.

“We knew this was going to be a tough game,” Barker said. “We knew it was going to be a fight. In previous years, we hadn’t beat them recently so that just fueled the fire. It made that win so much better, that feeling.”

Whalen twins pace McNary cross country team

Of the Keizertimes

Ethan and Brennan Whalen, twin brothers, spent the summer competing in regional and national track meets in Bend, Los Angeles and Reno, Nev.

That experience is now paying off in their sophomore high school cross country season.

Running for McNary, the Whalen brothers have shattered their best times as freshmen.

Ethan, who entered the season with a PR of 18:37, finished the Meriwether National Cross Country Classic in Hillsboro in 17:50 on Sept. 21.

“I just stayed in shape and got better,” Ethan said. “I came back stronger than last year.”

Finishing just eight seconds behind Ethan was Brennan, whose freshman PR was 18:59.

“That was my goal for the season, said Brennan of breaking 18 minutes. “I’m still working hard. I’m making a new one.”

Both Brennan and Ethan, who started cross country as sixth graders at Whiteaker Middle School, credited the SOVAH Track Club, run by Jon Terrazas, for improving their mechanics.

“I feel like I’m getting less sore,” Brennan said. “Last year I felt like everything was hurting and this year I’m not hurting.”

Brennan and Ethan have also learned how to kick at the end of races.

“I never kicked in my races because I was too tired,” Brennan said. “If I hadn’t (kicked), I wouldn’t have gotten under 18 (minutes).”

The brothers also push each other.

“He starts out a little quicker than I do but by the first mile I can see him and I just try to keep with him,” Brennan said of Ethan. “If he starts slowing down I’ll obviously go faster but that hasn’t happened this season. The goal is to beat him but that’s going to be hard.”

Ethan backed up his 17:50 by finishing the Nike Portland XC in 17:55.

“Those are two guys that show up everyday to get better, whether their body is not feeling good or it’s their best day, they show up and push each other and push the other varsity guys,” McNary head coach David Holcomb said. “I think from two sophomores that’s really exciting.”

McNary senior David Allen was the second Celtic to cross the finish line at the Nike Portland XC, finishing in 18:03. Sophomores Andrew Goemaere and Gavin Gasperini were next in 18:28 and 18:30.

Francisco Orta finished in 18:33 and Brennan Whalen clocked in at 18:55. Caleb McCoy was right behind him in 19 minutes.

Sabella Alfaro led McNary’s girls, finishing with a PR of 22:43. Cielo Hermenejildo Chavez clocked in at 22:55 and Reyna Terrazas finished in 23:22.

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

Lady Celts end dry spell

Of the Keizertimes

SALEM—After getting into the playoffs based on its power ranking the past two seasons, McNary wants to earn its spot this year with a top four finish in the conference.

The Lady Celts went a long way to getting there Tuesday, defeating South Salem 2-1.

“We knew that this was a pivotal conference matchup and there was a lot on the line,” McNary head coach AJ Nash said.

The Lady Celts came to South Salem on a seven-game losing streak, scoring just one goal in September.

“We’ve been playing good ball,” Nash said. “We’ve been in the games up until the final whistle on all of them. Even though it was a rough spell, morale was good.”

McNary had also played its toughest schedule in years, which got the Lady Celts ready for league play.

“Coming into the night, this is as prepared as I’ve ever felt,” Nash said. “Even though they were losses, we played the teams intentionally for a playoff run and now we have to do the work in conference to get ready for the playoffs.”

McNary scored quickly at South Salem as Abbie Hawley headed in a free kick from Gina Munguia in the third minute.

“Before the game we were actually practicing our set pieces about where she (Munguia) had the ball,” Hawley said. “I just gave her that look and she sent it right to my head. It was really awesome just because it was so early in the game and I think having that adrenaline in the beginning pushed us into getting this win tonight.”

Hawley assisted McNary’s second goal, tapping the ball to Audrey Williams, who put it in the corner of the net to give the Lady Celts a 2-0 lead with 15 minutes remaining in the first half.

“Abbie had a great ball,” Williams said. “I felt like that was a great opportunity so I just went for it. I couldn’t have gotten that goal without Abbie.”

South Salem scored its only goal with 4:45 remaining in the first half.

But goalkeeper Sydney Snapp and the McNary defense shut out the Saxons in the second half.

“It opened our eyes a little bit,” Hawley said of breaking the losing streak. “We were kind of down on ourselves with that really big dry spell and so I think it’s going to help us push ourselves in practice and then get us ready for McKay on Friday.”

The Lady Celts are 1-2 in the Mountain Valley Conference after opening with one-goal losses to West Salem and Summit, both 3-0 in league play.

McNary hosts McKay (0-3) on Friday at 4 p.m.

Auvinen sees fight, ‘glimmer of hope’ after loss to South Medford

Of the Keizertimes

After another disappointing first half of football, McNary head coach Jeff Auvinen saw something in his team that gave him “a glimmer of hope.”

Trailing by three touchdowns, McNary senior Jacob Jackson intercepted South Medford quarterback Giovanni Bottero on the third play of the second half.

Erik Barker then connected with Griffin Oliveira to get the Celtics on the scoreboard and McNary’s defense stood tall, stopping the Panthers on fourth-and-1.

But McNary’s offense couldn’t get anything else going and South Medford added two more touchdowns, including a 60-yard punt return, to defeat the Celtics 35-7 on homecoming.

“I saw some fight tonight that I hadn’t seen for a while, since that West Linn game,” Auvinen said. “The interception, going down and scoring and then the fourth down stop. That was exciting football right there. That’s the kind of football we’re used to. That was fun football, that little stretch. If we play that way all of the time, we just have to get after it and fly around, trust each other and play together, play hard, play tough. That was a glimmer of hope.”

McNary spent the week preparing for South Medford making changes to its personnel, structure and attitudes, and will continue to do so as it prepares for its Mountain Valley Conference opener at home against Sprague (0-5) this Friday at 7:15.

“I’m going to keep trying something until it works,” Auvinen said. “I’m not ever going to give up. I may be one of the most stubborn people on the planet. And I’m old. There’s different ways you can do things and I’m going to keep trying. I think we took a step forward this week and we’re going to do some of the things we did last week and continue those because I think they may have helped, keep looking for new things and make adjustments and hopefully take the battle for four quarters.”

Barker completed 15 of 27 passes for 127 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Junior Walling rushed for 81 yards on 18 carries.

Celtics rout West Salem in Mountain Valley Conference opener

Of the Keizertimes

McNary (5-1-2) wanted to show the rest of the new Mountain Valley Conference that it was here to fight for the league championship.

After a 5-1 win over West Salem (2-5-1) on Tuesday, the Celtics are now ready to prove they’re one of the top teams in the state.

McNary will get that shot Saturday at Summit (7-1).

“We have to give everything that game,” McNary junior Jack Baez said. “They’re a top three team in the state so we need to show them that we’re up there with them. We have to come out big.”

The Celtics came out big against West Salem, scoring two goals in the first eight minutes.

Francisco Rios put in the first. Luis Lopez scored the second.

But then McNary relaxed and the Titans took advantage as Andres Labate fired a shot into the net to get West Salem within 2-1 early in the second half.

Picking up the pace, Baez tapped in a goal to extend the Celtics lead to 3-1 with 29 minutes remaining.

“It was a really nice assist,” Baez said. “I just got lucky I was in the right place at the right time.”

Midway through the second half, Baez added a second goal to give McNary a 4-1 lead.

“We got too composed, too cocky,” Baez said. “We had to pick it up. We had to come to a realization that this game isn’t over, 2-0 is always the most dangerous score in soccer so we just had to continue to pick it up in the second half. It was good we didn’t let our heads down our anything like that. We raised the tempo instead of lowering it down. That’s another thing that is special about this team. We overcome a lot of things.”

Alex Salazar put in the final goal of the night with 13 minutes left to play.

“There’s just something special about this team this year,” Baez said. “We just connect way better this year and I’m confident going into this league. I feel like we’re a top team, hopefully we continue to show it. We just have to continue with our hard work.”

Goal keeper Alejandro Villarreal had five saves, playing for the injured Sebastian Lopez, who McNary head coach Miguel Camarena expects back soon.

“He’s getting there but we want to be smart,” Camarena said. “It’s a huge asset to have two goal keepers.”

Saturday’s game at Summit begins at noon.

“It’s going to be a tough one but if our kids play their game, we should be good,” Camarena said. “They’re a pretty good technical team with a lot of possession so our goal is going to be to try to take the ball away from them and create opportunities.”

Booster Club to honor Beacons, raise money for participation fees

Of the Keizertimes

Kim Phillips, one of 10 individuals who will be honored on Oct. 6 by the Salem-Keizer High School Sports Booster Club, coached at McNary for 34 years.

But she almost didn’t make it more than one.

“It was a time when they were going to be moving people and I didn’t want to move so they needed a coach for another sport (track), so I did for a season to keep my job,” Phillips said.

While Phillips main sport was swimming, she never stopped stepping up when McNary needed another coach. She was the head coach of the varsity volleyball program from 1982 to 87 and then girls golf for 18 seasons from 1994 to 2011.

Phillips coached notable swimmers Seth and Martin Pepper—an NCAA champion and qualifier for the Olympic trials and an NCAA champion, respectfully, Jake Palmer—a state champion and Amber Boucher, who participated in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

On the golf side, Phillips coached two inviddual state champions—Jerilyn White and Rebecca Kim.

Her girls swim team finished third at the state meet and the girls golf team placed second in 2005, missing the state championship by just two strokes.

Also a P.E. teacher for 34 years, Phillips saw the benefits of being a student athlete.

“They learned how to work together, winning and losing isn’t everything, perseverance, especially for some of those kids that weren’t very good when they first started and stuck with it,” Phillips said.

“They learned dedication, organization, time management. I think that’s what high school sports does for kids.”

The Salem-Keizer High School Sports Booster Club’s primary goal is to make sure more students participate in athletics by helping offset participation fees.

While Salem-Keizer students athletes average a 3.25 GPA, nearly one point higher than the average student in the general population, athletic participation in the high schools is less than 40 percent, a record low.

All six high school will receive $5,000 each year from the booster club to help defray student athletic fees so that all kids have the opportunity to benefit from sports.

The community can participate by partnering with the booster club financially as it recognizes its 2018 Beacons—Phillips (McNary), Dick Bellock (McKay), Jaime Ellis (Sprague), Mary Heater (South Salem), Dr. Malcolm Snider (North Salem), Susan and LaRon Tolley (West Salem), Jim Reimann and Dick and Dave Withnell.

Partnership options range from $275 for two event tickets and one scholarship to $5,000 for eight tickets and 25 scholarships. Individual dinner tickets are $50.

Held at the Salem Convention Center, the festivities begin at 5 p.m. with a social hour, followed by dinner at 6 and an awards presentation at 7.

Bruce Brown, the founder of Proactive Coaching, is the keynote speaker.

Phillips is honored to be in the first group to receive a Beacon award.

“I was shocked,” she said. “There are so many great people that have worked at McNary or taught or volunteered at McNary. “It’s a definite honor. I can think of plenty of people that they could have bestowed the honor on.”

To purchase tickets, sponsorships or to get more information about the Salem-Keizer High School Sports Booster Club, go to

Celtics on fire entering league play

Of the Keizertimes

McNary boys soccer coach Miguel Camarena set a goal to be in the top 10 of the OSAA power rankings at the end of non-league play.

With a 1-0 win over Gresham on Monday, the Celtics accomplished that, rising to No. 4.

McNary’s next goal, a league championship, begins Tuesday, Sept. 25 when the Celtics host West Salem to open Mountain Valley Conference action.

“Every conference game is always a challenge because you know everyone,” Camarena said. “Our kids are ready. I’m excited.”

McNary finished the preseason 4-1-2 with the only loss coming at No. 1 and undefeated Lake Oswego.

Senior Jesus Lopez said the loss was a wakeup call.

“After our first loss, we started to pick it up a bit and we realized we can’t take another loss,” said Lopez, who scored McNary’s only goal against Gresham, heading a corner kick off a Gopher defender and into the net.

“As I was going up towards the ball I tripped on the other player,” Lopez said. “I tried to head it and it rebounded off the other player and went in.”

After scoring just one goal in each of its first three games, two ties and a loss, the Celtics scored 10 in its next four, all wins.

“We create so many opportunities and in the first two or three games we missed those goals and now we’re scoring in every game,” Camarena said.

With starting goalkeeper Sebastian Lopez dealing with a hamstring injury, Alejandro Villarreal came off the bench to allow just one goal in a 2-1 win over Madison on Sept. 13 and shut out Gresham.

“It’s my job as a sub to just fill in his shoes and keep the team with a clean sheet and do my best to just keep the ball out of the net,” said Villarreal, who had seven saves against Gresham.

“It’s just focus but I have the support of my team. I support them and they support me and we just keep each other going. It’s whatever I can do to help this team win.”

Camarena expects Lopez as well as senior midfielder Jovanie Bravo, who missed the Gresham match with a knee injury, back for West Salem.

“The kids are playing well,” Camarena said.

“We can compete against anyone.”

Life of Wiley: Area football teams not competitive

Tasked with reviving a sport with declining participation, an OSAA football ad hoc advisory committee began meeting last October.

In January, the 6A athletic directors then voted for a four-game league schedule.

The idea was the flexibility of playing five non-league games would allow teams to put together a more competitive schedule after 42 percent of games were decided by more than four touchdowns the year before.

Um… How’s that working?

Three weeks in, Salem-Keizer schools are a combined 3-15 with McNary, Sprague, North Salem and McKay all 0-3. The Celtics have been outscored by 100 points.

Sprague? 51.

McKay, which thanks to the ad hoc committee, was allowed to play down to 5A, lost its first two games by 24 and 20 points.

The schedule doesn’t get any easier this week.

West Salem, which itself opened the season with a 27-point loss at Lake Oswego but has since carried the flag for Salem-Keizer by blowing out Bend and handling Grant, hosts Sheldon.

McNary travels to Tumwater, Wash. while McKay and North Salem each play two of the top ranked teams in 5A.

Here are my picks:

Sprague at South Salem
One of the consequences of a four-game league schedule is two teams located four miles apart are playing each other in a non-league game. The good news here is a Salem-Keizer team gets a win. Of course the bad news is it also gets another loss. The Olympians have dominated this series the last two years, winning 48-7 and 58-12. However, Sprague, 0-3, is obviously not the same team. This game could really go either way. But I’ll take the team that’s played the more difficult schedule.

Prediction: Olympians 28, Saxons 24

McKay at Lebanon

Playing on Thursday night due to the referee shortage, the Royal Saxons nearly got their first win last week, falling to South Albany by four points. Next, McKay gets Lebanon, fresh off a 37-36 loss in a heavyweight battle against undefeated Silverton. While the Royal Scots showed progress, they are not ready to knock off one of the best teams in 5A.

Prediction: Warriors 37, Royal Scots 14

Silverton at North Salem

The Vikings have been close the past two weeks before falling off in the second half. A win should be coming soon but not against the Foxes, who are on a roll.

Prediction: Foxes 50, Vikings 21

Sheldon at West Salem

A win by the Titans would go a long way in bringing some respect to Salem-Keizer football. It would also show that West Salem is a serious threat to compete for the 6A state title. But the Irish, featuring two of the top players in the state in quarterback Michael Johnson Jr. and tight end Patrick Herbert, have owned West Salem, winning 41-7 and 35-8 the past two seasons.

Prediction: Irish 38, Titans 21

McNary at Tumwater, Wash.

Here’s what I know about Tumwater: The T-Birds played for the 2A state championship last season and at 3-0 are currently ranked No. 1 in the classification. With more than 1,200 students, Tumwater would compete in 6A if it were located in Oregon. On offense, the T-Birds run the wing-T, which McNary will be familiar with from playing North Salem. In junior Dylan Paine, Tumwater has a running back who rushed for more than 1,800 yards and 24 touchdowns last season. McNary’s schedule should eventually get easier but not yet.

Prediction: T-Birds 40, Celtics 27

Derek Wiley is Associate Editor of the Keizertimes.

Last week: 4-2, Overall record: 11-7

Celtics sacked at Tualatin, fall to 0-3

Of the Keizertimes

TUALATIN—McNary’s (0-3) highlight, maybe its only one of the night, came at the end of the first quarter.

With seven seconds remaining, senior Jacob Jackson intercepted Tualatin quarterback Blake Jackson at midfield and ran 50 yards for a touchdown.

But the extra point was blocked and it was all downhill from there as the Celtics fell 50-6 on Friday, Sept. 14.

Both teams struggled holding on to the ball. McNary threw two interceptions and lost four fumbles. Along with Jackson’s interception return for a touchdown, Noah Bach recovered three fumbles.

But Tualatin made big plays when it had the ball while the Celtics, missing lineman Wyatt Sherwood and Ian Koenig with injuries, did very little on offense, finishing with under 100 yards.

Quarterback Erik Barker, who was constantly under pressure and sacked five times, completed 12 of 28 passes for 85 yards. McNary’s longest gain of the night came on a 26-yard completion to Nigel Harris.

Junior Walling rushed for 36 yards with half of it coming on one carry.

Within 21-6 late in the first half, the McNary defense couldn’t tackle John Miller, who took a screen pass 55 yards to the end zone with just four seconds remaining.

The Celtics fumbled away its first possession of the second half, which led to another Tualatin score.


A bad McNary snap out of the back of the end zone then led to a safety and Miller returned the free kick 60 yards to stretch the Timberwolves lead to 43-6 early in the third quarter.

Tualatin scored its final touchdown on a 14-yard run with 1:12 remaining in the third.

McNary plays at Tumwater, Wash. on Friday, Sept. 21 and then returns home on Sept. 28 to host South Medford for homecoming.