McNary’s Kyle Knight tackles West Salem’s Brett Smith during the Celts 44-20 loss to the Titans Thursday, Oct. 7. (Keizertimes/ERIC A. HOWALD)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

McNary wide receiver James Lowells’ game plan for varsity football team’s clash with the South Salem Saxons bears a striking resemblance to Chicago politics: hit early, hit often.

“Our linebackers need to hit [Jake Fohn] a few times early and make him think twice about running,” Lowells said.

The Celtics travel to meet South Salem Friday, Oct. 15, at 7 p.m.

Fohn rushed for 212 yards and four touchdowns on 33 carries in the Saxon’s recent barnburner with Sprague High School.

“He can’t have a big game,” said McNary’s Zac Fegles, a sophomore.

Combined with double threat Junior Espitia, Saxon quarterback, who completed 9 of 14 for 139 yards and carried the ball himself 14 times for 84 yards last week, the Celts will be facing a formidable opponent. South currently holds the No. 3 slot in the Central Valley Conference while McNary is resting at No. 5.

“Defensively, [South] likes bring people in off the edges, but we should be able to give them some grief if they play man against the receivers,” said Rick Ward, McNary head coach.

McNary is still trying to get its ground game moving in the right direction, which would help alleviate pressure on Celtic quarterback Kyle Ismay. Ismay completed 33 of 51 for 358 yards in the team’s clash with West Salem last week, but the Celts’ rushing attack was all but nonexistent.

The Celts will be returning to some basic plays that have worked well against the Saxon defense in the past to get the cylinders firing, Ward said.

“It starts with the line and they’ll step up like they have in previous games,” said Celt Kyle Knight, a senior. “We also need to capitalize on their mistakes more and make fewer on our side of the ball.”

On the receiving side, three Celts – Garren Robinett, Justin Gardner, and Lowells – rolled up more than 70 yards each in the West Salem game.

In addition to the work on the field, Ismay said he’s hoping to see the McNary crowd return to the stands.

“When I was growing up the Celtics were the team to beat. I want people to know that we’re good, and I want the community to get back into it. If they do, I think it will make our job that much easier,” Ismay said.