Celt Grant Fletchall looks for an open lane during McNary’s game with Newberg High School. The Celtics won 44-14. (Keizertimes/ERIC A. HOWALD)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Mind over matter.

While the McNary High School varsity football team is still enjoying the fruits of their 44-14 victory over Newberg High School, the true test will be whether they can duplicate that effort in their game with Gresham High School. The answer to the question most probably lies in their ability to play like a team bigger than they are.

“[The Newberg game] changed the mentality of the team and reminded us that we can play physically even if we aren’t as big as the other guys,” said Garren Robinett, a McNary wide receiver.

Senior quarterback Kyle Ismay seemed to be on the same page.

“We just went out and scored 44 points. The defense was out there making plays, we ran the ball, threw the ball, and made plays on special teams. We’re going to watch some film [from Gresham] this week and figure out how to do the same thing – hit them from all areas,” Ismay said.

While Gresham may have size on their side, the Gophers have struggled in their opening two games of the season. They lost to Sunset High School, 38-7 and Glencoe High School, 21-16.

The Gophers lost a major contingent of seasoned players to graduation last year, but there are some returning all-conference stars, including linebacker Josh Kim, lineman and nose tackle Jake Roberts, who could pose a threat. Gresham coach Todd Nagel is focusing on the team’s running game this season and if there’s been one weakness for the Celts so far, it’s been stopping the run.

“[Gresham] does well running the ball so we’re going to have to mix up our game running and passing and we’ll do fine,” Robinett said.

Despite their record, there’s no 6A team the Celts can risk looking past, said Rick Ward, McNary head coach.

“What we got from the team last week as great effort and if you’ve got that all the little things will work themselves out,” Ward said.

Ward will also be looking for Ismay to step up his game in the same way he did against Newberg High School. Ismay completed 14 of 19 for 168 yards and two touchdowns during the game.

“We’ll need to have the same sort of confidence in our line and give Kyle time to throw the ball,” said Wes Heredia, a senior McNary linebacker.