By HERB SWETT
Of the Keizertimes

Head coach Josh Riddell sounded optimistic about McKay’s football season in this first year of realignment.

For football only, the Royal Scots will drop to 5A classification, playing in the Mid-Willamette Conference. They will be in the 6A Mountain Valley Conference for their other sports.

Riddell, in his third season as McKay’s head coach, had a 1-8 season in 2017 but before joining McKay had several winning seasons as an assistant coach at West Salem.

There are many new Scot faces, 35 of last year’s varsity players having graduated. They included most of the first string.

This year, Riddell said he is finding “decent depth with the up-front guys.” He sees his biggest problem as the lack of Friday night experience but says the players who have been playing Mondays on the junior varsity seem to be catching on well.

While McKay has an open competition at most positions, Riddell expects Zair Ku-Beiza to start on the defensive line and at tight end and Rafael Aguilar to be a first-string linebacker.

Senior Jose Camarena, an All-Greater Valley Conference honorable mention selection last season at linebacker, also returns.

Riddell called the switch to 5A “a good deal for us.” He said that in football, the Mid-Willamette Conference is the best 5A league in the state. Four of its schools, he noted, were in the state semifinals last season.

Riddell is his own offensive coordinator and Caleb Singleton the defensive coordinator. Darrell Hall, who coaches receivers, is also the JV head coach. Coaching the offensive line is Duane Riddell, the head coach’s father, who was a head coach for many years. Greg LaFountaine coaches tight ends and wings and Marvin Mason running backs.

Defensive coaches are Kenny Ramirez, linebackers; Steve Baker, linebackers; Bryan Huber, cornerbacks; and Singleton, safeties.

For the freshmen, Adam Vasas is head coach and offensive coordinator, and Juan Cervantes is defensive coordinator.

The varsity depth chart was still changing every day but Riddell plans to play many juniors and seniors this year.

The Royal Scots have about 130 football players in their program between the varsity, JV and freshman teams.

“I like the intensity, the efforts the guys have been showing,” Riddell said. He noted that his players showed their commitment during the off-season.

The other schools in the Mid-Willamette Conference are Central, Corvallis, Crescent Valley, Dallas, Lebanon, North Salem, Silverton, South Albany, and West Albany. North Salem, which also was in the 6A league last year, will play its entire sports schedule in the 5A league.