By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes
McNary head football coach Jeff Auvinen wanted the Celtics to remember last season’s opening drive against North Medford as they began preparing for the Black Tornadoes on Monday.
“They went down the field on eight or 10 runs, no passes, and really came off the ball and backed us off the ball and stood us up,” Auvinen said. “They took it to us pretty good last year.”
While North Medford won last year’s game at McNary 38-17, the score was tied 14-14 early in the second quarter before the Black Tornadoes really took control.
Auvinen wants the Celtics to set the tone this time around.
“I’d like to see us go down and step right up and match their physicality and maybe be the physical team, maybe be the team that comes off and sets the tempo,” Auvinen said. “We’re going to really try and stress that this week.”
North Medford is 2-5 overall but plays in the Southwest Conference with Sheldon and South Medford, two teams ranked in the top six in the OSAA power rankings.
Sheldon, No. 4, gave West Salem its only loss, 41-7, on Sept. 18. North Medford gave Sheldon a slightly closer game, losing 35-7, but were blown out by South Medford the next week 55-6. South Medford only beat South Salem 28-21.
North Medford is 22nd in the power rankings. McNary is 18th.
“Week in and week out, they’ll be very competitive teams down there,” Auvinen said. “It will be interesting, a long trip. The kids aren’t used to that. These kids I don’t think have ever gone on one. We’ve played Crater and North Medford in non-league but it was a long time ago before these kids were playing.”
With last week’s win at West Albany, the Celtics are third in the Greater Valley Conference behind West Salem and Sprague and in a good spot to finish at least inside the top four.
“I told the kids last week before the game that it’s going to be kind of a playoff environment, starting with West Albany,” Auvinen said. “North Medford, I think is a playoff caliber team.”