By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
The McNary High School varsity football team squares off with McKay High School Friday, Oct. 19, at McKay. However, for Celtic players and coaches, they plan on the game being all about them.
“We’re going to take it to them, run the ball hard and bring down their safeties and throw all over them,” said Celt quarterback Hayden Gosling.
McNary Head Coach Isaac Parker said it’s time for the team to come up with some of the big plays and scoring that have been missing for much of the season.
“Big plays have been our biggest problem so far this year on both sides of the ball,” he said. “Defensively, we need our edge players to play well this week, and we need to fix our coverage breakdowns from the last week. Offensively, we want to continue to run the ball well and challenge ourselves to continue to improve our run game.”
McKay has been the Central Valley Conference’s underdog more often than not, but the team has managed more consistent performances under the guidance of new head coach Greg Mendez. That said, the team is coming off two bruising losses in recent weeks, a 41-0 rout by the West Salem Titans and a 72-19 drubbing under the heels of the South Salem Saxons.
“We’re going to take it to them, run the ball hard … and throw all over them.”
— Hayden Gosling
The Royal Scot charge is led by senior quarterback Juan Ochoa and senior running back Tyler Gonzales.
“We’ll need to shut them down, but if we can handle them we will find some success,” Parker said.
While Ochoa is no slouch in the pocket, he’s nearly as much of a threat on the ground. He has 369 yards and five touchdowns on the rush this season. Gonzales has 311 yards on the ground and six touchdowns.
Celt Garrett Hittner said the Scots zone read plays make the team tricky to cover defensively.
“That puts a lot of pressure on the defensive ends. They gotta pick between the running back and quarterback, but we’ll work on that this week and be ready for the game,” Hittner said.
For the Celts’ part, Parker wants to see the team continue to improve its offensive output and sharpen the passing game to fill in for the run game when called upon.
“We need to get more efficient with our pass game, and we need to limit the turnovers. I want our offense to continue to improve and continue to build our confidence on that side of the ball,” he said.
Junior strong safety Andrew Lawrence said it was also time to put some points on the board defensively.
“I’d like to see us score more points with some interceptions and fumble recoveries, but really I just want us to have some fun,” he said.