Tasked with reviving a sport with declining participation, an OSAA football ad hoc advisory committee began meeting last October.
In January, the 6A athletic directors then voted for a four-game league schedule.
The idea was the flexibility of playing five non-league games would allow teams to put together a more competitive schedule after 42 percent of games were decided by more than four touchdowns the year before.
Um… How’s that working?
Three weeks in, Salem-Keizer schools are a combined 3-15 with McNary, Sprague, North Salem and McKay all 0-3. The Celtics have been outscored by 100 points.
McKay, which thanks to the ad hoc committee, was allowed to play down to 5A, lost its first two games by 24 and 20 points.
The schedule doesn’t get any easier this week.
West Salem, which itself opened the season with a 27-point loss at Lake Oswego but has since carried the flag for Salem-Keizer by blowing out Bend and handling Grant, hosts Sheldon.
McNary travels to Tumwater, Wash. while McKay and North Salem each play two of the top ranked teams in 5A.
Here are my picks:
Sprague at South Salem
One of the consequences of a four-game league schedule is two teams located four miles apart are playing each other in a non-league game. The good news here is a Salem-Keizer team gets a win. Of course the bad news is it also gets another loss. The Olympians have dominated this series the last two years, winning 48-7 and 58-12. However, Sprague, 0-3, is obviously not the same team. This game could really go either way. But I’ll take the team that’s played the more difficult schedule.
Prediction: Olympians 28, Saxons 24
McKay at Lebanon
Playing on Thursday night due to the referee shortage, the Royal Saxons nearly got their first win last week, falling to South Albany by four points. Next, McKay gets Lebanon, fresh off a 37-36 loss in a heavyweight battle against undefeated Silverton. While the Royal Scots showed progress, they are not ready to knock off one of the best teams in 5A.
Prediction: Warriors 37, Royal Scots 14
Silverton at North Salem
The Vikings have been close the past two weeks before falling off in the second half. A win should be coming soon but not against the Foxes, who are on a roll.
Prediction: Foxes 50, Vikings 21
Sheldon at West Salem
A win by the Titans would go a long way in bringing some respect to Salem-Keizer football. It would also show that West Salem is a serious threat to compete for the 6A state title. But the Irish, featuring two of the top players in the state in quarterback Michael Johnson Jr. and tight end Patrick Herbert, have owned West Salem, winning 41-7 and 35-8 the past two seasons.
Prediction: Irish 38, Titans 21
McNary at Tumwater, Wash.
Here’s what I know about Tumwater: The T-Birds played for the 2A state championship last season and at 3-0 are currently ranked No. 1 in the classification. With more than 1,200 students, Tumwater would compete in 6A if it were located in Oregon. On offense, the T-Birds run the wing-T, which McNary will be familiar with from playing North Salem. In junior Dylan Paine, Tumwater has a running back who rushed for more than 1,800 yards and 24 touchdowns last season. McNary’s schedule should eventually get easier but not yet.
Prediction: T-Birds 40, Celtics 27
Derek Wiley is Associate Editor of the Keizertimes.
Last week: 4-2, Overall record: 11-7