Celt Kyle Aicher sets his sights on Westview’s Raul Reese during a dame Friday, Sept. 12. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Celt Kyle Aicher sets his sights on Westview’s Raul Reese during a dame Friday, Sept. 12. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes 

The McNary High School varsity football teams meets the first of three new Greater Valley Conference foes Friday, Sept. 19.

The Celts (1-0 in conference, 1-1 overall) hit the road to face West Albany High School, which is making its return to 6A ranks. The last time two teams were in the same conference, it was known as the Valley League.

“I think our team turned a corner in the second half of the game with Westview last week. I was really pleased with the effort put forward. I am hopeful that we will remember that level of play, and bring it every game here forward. I expect to see us play with that type of energy and excitement against West Albany and, if we do, we should fare well against them,” said Isaac Parker McNary head coach.

In the Westview game, it was the Celtic defense that spent much of the first half on the field. The offense wasn’t able to reset the chains against the Wildcats until well into the first quarter. McNary scored 14 unanswered points in the second half, but never threatened for the lead in a 34-20 loss.

The most lucrative combination in that game were air attacks from quarterback Drew McHugh to receiver Devon Dunagan, but several receivers contributed while playing on both sides of the ball. Dunagan piled up 103 yards on eight catches. Senior Kyle Torres has 92 yards on four catches with a touchdown.

McNary’s defense made as many key plays as its offense in the second half with big stops, sacks and a stripped ball that ended Westview drives.

One of the top priorities for Parker is getting the ground game back in shape. Anemic would be a gracious description of the results last week. The Celts averaged less than two yards per carry with 25 attempts.

“It’s amazing how fragile a run game can be.  A couple small improvements, and the run game would have been much better against Westview. Luckily, we had those teachable moments in our one and only non-league game. Our run game and our team will be better because of what we get to learn from last Friday,” he said.

The Bulldogs (1-1 in conference) dropped their first game of the season to Sprague High School 28-13. Last week, they beat North Salem High School 21-6. The Celts beat the Vikings 35-21 two weeks ago.

The Bulldogs lost a ton of talent to graduation, but they return with a stout defense. Seniors Luc LaChapelle, JT Valenzuela, and current quarterback Joey Roos each collected an all-state selection as juniors last year when the team won the 5A state championship.