By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
An 85-yard Saxon touchdown sprint on the second play of the night set the tone for the clash between the McNary and South Salem varsity football teams Friday, Sept. 28.
The Celtics never recovered from the early kick to the gut en route to a 47-7 loss.
“There were some protection miscommunications early in the game that cost us. Also, South did a good job of rerouting our receivers and that prevented us from getting the ball off on time. South’s quick defensive edge rushers hurt us,” said Isaac Parker, McNary head coach.
Celt Daniel Brattain said the outcome might have been different had McNary been able to cut down on the number of unforced errors.
“It was more us struggling with ourselves. We had people missing their marks and it ended up with the other team getting a touchdown,” Brattain said.
Saxon Jaylynn Bailey escaped the McNary defense on that early play and quickly gained enough of a lead on his Celtic pursuers to avoid a tackle. South’s attempt at a two-point conversion failed.
The Celts planned on adding some new looks to their offense and showed their hand on their first offensive drive. Quarterback Hayden Gosling and wide receiver Cody Bond frequently exchanged roles on the team’s first drives of the night, but the inexperience with wildcat maneuvers showed as the Celts made minimal gains.
“I definitely want to do more of it,” Bond said. “It felt great in practice, but I think there are definitely some things we can improve on and make it more sound,” he said.
Parker said he’s been including such plays in his game plans since 2007 and doesn’t plan on reversing the trend.
“Offensively, we struggled to execute some basic fundamentals like snapping and untimely penalties that really hurt us, but we will always try to find easy ways to put the ball in our best football players’ hands,” he said.
The Saxons punched into the end zone again on their second drive of the night to take a 14-0 lead after a successful two-point conversion.
A blown snap on the third play of the Celtics next drive crippled their momentum and lost twelve yards. McNary turned over the ball on downs at South’s 40-yard line.
Mason Ross took down Saxon quarterback Sam Tweedt for an eight-yard loss on the second play of South’s drive and a missed hand-off on the next play was recovered by McNary at South’s 35-yard line. The Celts pushed to McNary’s 23-yard line, but Gosling was sacked for an eight-yard loss, then a pass intended for Bond was intercepted by South’s Jeremiah James and returned for the Saxon’s third touchdown of the quarter and a 22-0 lead after the successful two-point conversion.
McNary’s offense found some stability on the next drive with Jon Kiser and Brett Hildebrand making rushes that pushed the Saxons back to the Saxon 48-yard line after the kick off. Gosling lost three yards on a sack, but Hildebrand found a sideline route on the next play and sprinted for 51 yards before getting taken down by one of the Saxons near the end zone. Bond took the snap on the next play and dove over the line for the Celtics’ first points of the game. A successful point after kick by Gosling put the score at 22-7 less than a minute into the second quarter.
McNary had only one first down on its next two drives. South Salem returned a punt to McNary’s 36-yard line and took a 28-7 lead four plays later with 1:55 left on the clock. McNary didn’t make it past midfield on the return drive and the half ended with South in possession of the ball.
On the first drive of the second half, the Celts managed a pair of first downs, but punted the opportunity away. South stalled out on their return drive near midfield thanks to a timely tackle by Andrew Lawrence.
The Saxons buried McNary near their end zone on the punt and recovered a high snap in the end zone for a touchdown at 5:32 in the third quarter and a 35-7 lead. South chewed time off the clock on its next drive that spanned the third and fourth quarters ending it with a five-yard Joshua Benton touchdown run for the 41-7 lead.
McNary showed its first signs of life in almost half a game with a 16-yard run by Hildebrand, but it was snuffed out by a fumbled snap that South recovered on the next play. Two plays later, Benton struck again on a 54-yard run.
“Our defense did really well, we tackled a lot and played hard, but we shot ourselves in the foot a lot on offense,” said Kiser.
The Celts finished the game with 172 yards of total offense. Hildebrand moved the ball 120 yards on 19 carries. Bond led receivers with 40 yards on three catches. Gosling completed three of nine passes for 40 yards with two interceptions.
Parker said he was excited to see Bond in action for a full game, the senior was sidelined on the kickoff of the Celts’ first game of the season.
“I was very happy for him because he has worked as hard as anyone on our team in the off-season and I know how hard it is for him to sit out and miss some of his senior year,” Parker said.