McNary’s Anthony Nguyen finds open fields and eyes oncoming Black Tornado tacklers. McNary won the game 20-14. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

McNary High School’s freshman football team opened its 2012 season with a hard-fought, come-from-behind 20-14 win over North Medford High School at Flesher Field.

The teams squared off Thursday, Aug. 30. After a scoreless first quarter, the Tornadoes opened scoring with an eight-yard touchdown pass late in the second quarter. They led 8-0 after a two-point conversion.

McNary drove after the kickoff and scored on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Trent Van Cleave to Matt Aguilar to cut the lead to 8-6 at the half.

In the third quarter, McNary scored on a 15-yard connection between the same pair.

“Matt’s catch was as fine a catch as a freshman can make,” said Frank Gauntz, receiver coach.

Van Cleave ran the two-point conversion and McNary led 14-8.

McNary scored again on a five-yard fourth quarter run by La Croix Hill to extend the lead to 20-8.

North Medford scored a touchdown late in the fourth to cut the lead to 20-14 and, after recovering an onside kick, drove to the McNary six-yard line.

Hayden Sader pressured Medford’s quarterback and Brady Sparks intercepted a fourth down pass to seal the win.

Van Cleave completed six of nine for 75 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Celts.

Anthony Nguyen was praised by running back coach Brody Cavaille after rushing for 130 yards on 10 carries.

Tanner Gordon and D.J. Paqueno led the defense with 12 tackles each. Matt Koopman added 11 tackles, Gage Mance had nine, and Kyle Aicher and Hill chipped in with seven each to lead the defense.

Offensive line coach Jared Van Cleave, a starter on the 2010 McNary team, praised John Phelps for his play at center. Starting linebacker Trevor Gilbert had a key punt block in the second half.

“We started slow, but I was proud of the way our boys fought back after trailing in the first half,” said Head Coach Ted Anagnos. “These guys don’t like losing and have worked real hard.”