McNary’s Wes Heredia stares down an Olympian on the rush. Sprague won the game 38-30. (Submitted by aim1photo.com)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

For the past four weeks, the story of the McNary varsity football team has been a book with series of repeated pages – stop the run, stop turning over the ball.

“There’s simply one of those special kids on each of the teams in the Central Valley Conference and McKay is no exception with [Ian] Silbernagel,” said Rick Ward, McNary head coach.

The Celtics (0-4 CVC, 2-6 overall) host the Royal Scots (2-2 CVC, 3-4 overall) Friday, Oct. 29. Game time is 7 p.m.

McNary is locked in the league’s last spot, but it means the game will be played as much for pride as it will be for the hope of heading into the state playoff play-in game on a win.

“We want to take McKay off track and it will give us a big momentum boost to take another ‘W,’” said Gonzalo Cervantes, McNary kicker.

To prevail, the team will have to stop Silbernagel, the Royal Scots’ multitalented quarterback. Silbernagel met his match in the South Salem Saxons last week, who held him to 118 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries. The week prior, Silbernagel’s final minute 75-yard rush led the team to a victory over North Salem. Silbernagel lists CVC championships in the 100-meter and 200-meter track competition in his growing arsenal of weapons.

“He’s another big, really great quarterback need to contain him, keep our eyes on him and limit our turnovers,” said Celt Jared Van Cleave.

On the McNary side of the ball, that could mean bad news, but lineman Alex Willeford said shutting Silbernagel down will be an exercise in mind over matter.

“Stopping the run is all about who has the tougher mindset and we have to have it this week,” Willeford said. “We’re adding an extra guy to the line this week and that could help, it would have worked last week if we were the tougher team.”

In another season, the McKay game might be the last game of the year for an, at times, heavy-hearted team. Win or lose, the Celts will get one last chance to show off their talent in a play-in game for the state playoffs next week.

“The play-in gives you an opportunity to play against some other leagues,” Ward said. “If you win, you’re facing a Jesuit on their home turf and isn’t going to be any easier than other games throughout the season, but it helps keep a team’s head up and motivated.”

In Willeford’s case, the play-in game helps him keep the whole season in perspective.

“The time on the field passes really fast, you can’t take it for granted,” he said. “You’ve got to appreciate the time you’ve got to play football.”