By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Looking at its win-loss record, it might seem as though the McNary High School varsity football team will make easy work of the McKay Royal Scots (0-4) this week, but those numbers can be deceiving.
Despite struggles, the Royal Scots have proven time and again they show up to play and 300-plus yard nights on the rushing game are not out of the ordinary. The Celts meet the Royal Scots on the gridiron Friday, Oct. 28, at McKay.
“Our kids’ work ethic has been outstanding. There’s no quit in this group. They’ve been fighting hard and practicing to win every week,” said Jay Minyard, McKay head coach.
Royal Scot Tyler Gonzales led his team with 118 yards on 16 carries last week despite a 62-34 loss to South Salem High School. Quarterback Alex Emerson piled up 100 yards running on option plays and chalked up two touchdowns.
“Alex has come a long way over the past couple of years and, as a leader, he’s been outstanding on the sidelines keeping everybody’s heads in the game,” Minyard said.
Minyard will be looking for his team to keep ahead of McNary’s receivers on the field.
The Celts will be looking to mix it up coming off its first conference win, 27-26 over Sprague High School.
“We’re super-jacked about it and we we feel like we can carry that through McKay and into our play-in game,” said Celt Corey White, a senior.
Coach Rick Ward expected quarterbacks Justin Burgess and D.J. Harryman to share shotcalling duties while Burgess takes on other roles in the offense and defense.
“Justin is a really good athlete and wherever he is on the field creates something for the other team to adapt to, especially when you add him as a receiver alongside Garren Robinett and Justin Gardner,” Ward said.
While the Celts have allowed fewer big plays with each game of the season, Celt Austin Hejny felt like the team had finally come into its own.
“They put up a lot of rushing yards, but we can minimize those yards with our defense, destroy their run game and force them to pass. They’ll crack under pressure and throw interceptions,” he said.
While the team was trying not to count its wins before they’re hatched, it was clear they appreciated the breather earned in the win.
“That last win gets us ready for the rest of the season and will make us work harder. I know we can stop McKay,” said Celt Mason Ross.