McNary can’t compete with West Linn

McNary defensive back Noah Lelack brings down a West Linn ball-carrier in the second half of the Celtics 49-14 loss on Friday Sept. 13 (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).

Despite having big expectations coming into the season, the McNary football team struggled to compete with their opponent for a second straight week.

West Linn dominated the contest on both sides of the ball from the opening kick, defeating the Celtics in their home opener 49-14 on Friday, Sept. 14. 

“We’re not a very good football team at the moment,” McNary head coach Jeff Auvinen said. “We need to get everyone on the same page, which we have talked about from day one. We need to get back to basics to see if we can right the ship.”

The Celtics had just 180 yards of total offense for the game. While it appeared at times that McNary was starting to get into a rhythm early on, they never could sustain a drive in the first half. 

Quarterback Erik Barker hit Riley Flores on a 13-yard slant rout on the second play of the game to get McNary into their hurry-up offense. But after a one-yard loss and two straight incompletions, they were forced to punt the ball away. 

Starting from the McNary 37-yard line, it took West Linn just three plays to get into the end zone, capping off the drive with a 18-yard touchdown pass from Ethan Coleman to Casey Tawa. 

Despite picking up first downs on their next two offensive possessions, McNary was eventually forced to punt and give the ball back to West Linn. 

Coleman connected with Tawa for two more scores in the opening quarter, including a 79-yard touchdown on a hitch pass. 

In the opening series of the second quarter, West Linn was facing third-and-28 from their own 12-yard line. But a breakdown in McNary’s cover three defense proved to be costly as Gavin Haines took the screen pass from Coleman and went 88 yards for the score to put West Linn on top 28-0. 

The McNary secondary is fairly inexperienced and West Linn was able to take full advantage with 448 passing yards on the game.

“They had guys open all over the place. We tried mixing up the defenses and keeping them off-balance, but it didn’t matter what we were in,” Auvinen said. 

The Lions were up 35-0 at the half and scored twice more in the third quarter to increase their lead to 49-0. Barker was frequently under pressure and had a hard time finding open receivers for most of the game. 

“The offense struggled just like the defense. We really struggled to sustain anything, and it all started up front. They played harder than us and better than us,” Auvinen said. 

McNary did, however, make the score a tad more respectable in the fourth quarter. A 10-yard touchdown run from Junior Walling got the Celtics on the board.

On the next play from scrimmage, Walling recovered a West Linn fumble on a muffed snap from his linebacker position, giving McNary the ball at the two-yard line. Barker then scored on McNary’s next offensive play on a quarterback draw. 

McNary will arguably face their toughest challenge of the regular season in their next game on Friday, Sept. 20 when they play host to Tualatin, arguably the top team in the state. 

After being outscored 94-20 in their first two games, Auvinen will be looking to his upperclassmen to provide more energy and leadership moving forward. 

“A huge chunk of the leadership falls to the seniors. They need to bring the maximum effort. We need them to work harder than everyone else,” Auvinen said.