Celt Hayden Sader chases down Saxon quarterback Gabe Matthews in the game Friday, Oct. 23. McNary lost 56-12. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Celt Hayden Sader chases down Saxon quarterback Gabe Matthews in the game Friday, Oct. 23. McNary lost 56-12. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The good news for the McNary High School varsity football team is that it is virtually assured a spot in the playoffs regardless of whether it wins or loses a game with Sprague High School at home Friday, Oct. 30.

“We’re pretty much locked into fourth, but it would be nice to get that win for our own state of mind. On paper, Sprague’s got a good record, but I think we match up with them pretty well. It should be a good game,” said Jeff Auvinen, McNary head coach.

The Olympians enter the contest with a Greater Valley Conference record of 6-1, and an overall record of 6-2.

The Olys’ largest threat on offense is senior running back Anthony Nunn. The 5-foot-11, 205-pounder has racked up big yards already this season and is likely to be the linchpin of Sprague’s offensive package against McNary.

“We’ll be focusing on the run. They have a young quarterback who can throw the ball, but we feel like if we stop the run, we should do okay,” said Celt Matt Aguilar.

Sprague’s quarterback is 6-foot-2 junior Justin Culpepper who has come through in several clutch situations this year and continues to grow.

Despite the threats Sprague brings to the game, the Celtic’s largest obstacle will likely be flushing a 56-12 loss to South Salem High School last week.

After leading 12-0 for much of the first half, South went on an unanswered eight-touchdown run.

“We have to start right again and refocus ourselves,” Auvinen said.

Up against the Saxons, McNary quarterback Trent Van Cleave completed nine of 20 for 117 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Running back Brady Sparks had 17 carries for 70 yards and three catches for 67 yards and a touchdown. Aguilar had two catches for 22 yards and a touchdown.

“We can’t look too far ahead. It’s senior night for a lot of us and we want to leave the regular season on a win. That will happen if we focus on our jobs and doing what we need to do to execute each play,” Aguilar said.