By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

SALEM—McNary’s fifth and sixth grade blue team came from behind to defeat Lakeridge 9-8 on Saturday, Nov. 11 in a Tualatin Valley Youth Football League gold bracket championship game.

Playing at South Salem High School, McNary trailed 8-0 at halftime but a deep pass to Christopher Cortez got the young Celtics deep into Lakeridge territory. Jesse Dyer then cashed in with a 6-yard touchdown run but the extra point was blocked with 3:45 remaining in the third quarter.

“We had good opportunities early on in the first quarter. We took that first drive down and got stopped inside the 5, so we knew we could move the ball,” McNary head coach Kyle Hughes said. “We talked at halftime about staying with it and don’t get down and they came out in the second half and put a drive together and made some big plays.”

After McNary’s defense got a stop, two more catches by Cortez, including one from Dyer on a fleaflicker, got the Celtics back inside the Lakeridge 10-yard line.

But the drive stalled at the 9 and on fourth-and-8, Dyer kicked a 26-yard field goal to put McNary on top 9-8 with 5:46 remaining.

“Last week was the first time we actually tried one and he made it,” Hughes said of Dyer kicking field goals. “It was a little closer in but only about two yards. He’s kicked all the extra points. He’s a great, great kicker. He has a very strong leg.”

Dyer then showed off his all-around kicker skills, delivering an on-side kick, recovered by Pierce Walker.

After a Celtics punt, Lakeridge took over at its own 39-yard line with 3:27 left to play.

The Pacers drove the ball to the McNary 12-yard line with 1:20 remaining. With Lakeridge coaches debating how close they needed to be to attempt their own field goal, Davis Olsen sacked the quarterback for a five-yard loss.

After losing four more yards to force a fourth-and-long at the 21, Keenan Chase intercepted a pass with 16 seconds remaining to seal the Celtic victory.

McNary finished 7-1 in the nine-team Percich-Valley division, outscoring their opponents 257-82.

As the No. 1 seed, the Celtics shut out West Linn, the No. 2 seed in the Harrison-Pacific, 19-0 on Saturday Nov. 4 in the first round of the playoffs. Lakeridge, who entered the championship game undefeated, was the No. 1 seed out of the Harrison-Pacific.

“We had a lot of good competition. We won a lot of games big and got kids tons of playing time,” Hughes said. “The biggest thing is just creating a love for the kids so they keep coming back.”