McNary gets convincing win over McKay

McNary running back Zane Aicher runs through defenders on his way to a first down in McNary’s 42-7 win over McKay (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).

After McNary’s season-opening victory against West Albany, Celtics quarterback Jack McCarty put it on himself to help the team clean some things up on the offensive end. 

It was clear that the senior signal-caller made good on his promise.

McCarty threw for 248 yards and four touchdowns as McNary put a beatdown on McKay on Friday, March 12, defeating the Royal Scots 42-7. 

“Last week we were sloppy at times, but we fixed it during practice and came in with a ton of confidence,” McCarty said. “We were getting guys more chances and taking more one-on-one opportunities, because I honestly believe we have some of the best receivers in the state. I don’t think there are many DB’s in the state that can cover our guys one-on-one.”

Two receivers that had big nights for the Celtics were junior wideout Tyler Copeland and his younger brother Braiden, who is a sophomore — both had over 70 yards receiving and two touchdowns. While the two brothers are always rooting for each other, both admitted that there is some sibling rivalry that goes on. 

“We definitely have a lot of competition out there between us because we both want the ball,” Tyler said.

“When I am seeing (Tyler) catch all these amazing passes, I’m like ‘aw man I need to do that too,’” Braiden added. “I just got to try and keep up with him.”

McNary may have won the game in blowout fashion, but the Celtics had a rough time getting things going early on. After starting with the ball near midfield to begin the game, the Celtics faced third-and-long in their own territory due to a pair of holding penalties. McCarty tried to pick up the first down with a lengthy pass downfield but was intercepted by Kyrin Fuimaono, who returned the ball to the Celtics 26-yard line. 

The Royal Scots were on the verge of scoring after a pair of first downs got them inside the McNary five-yard line. But the Celts defense made a play that completely changed the trajectory of the game just moments later.

On second-and-goal from the McNary two-yard line, McKay quarterback Ui Ale sprinted to his right to try and fight a receiver while being chased by Celtics linebacker Dyami Rios. Rios hit Ale as he tried to throw blindly across his body into the middle of the field. 

The throw landed directly in the arms of McNary senior linebacker Griffin Hubbard, who had nothing but open field in front of him.

“I had backside contain on the play, so when the quarterback stumbled and threw it, it was right to me. And the first thought I had was ‘oh crap. I just caught the ball. Now what?’” Hubbard said. 

Hubbard may have panicked for a brief moment, but the McNary student-body president raced 90 yards to the end zone for his first ever touchdown to give the Celtics the lead as his teammates went ballistic on the sideline. 

“As soon as I had it in my hands, I just booked it. I wasn’t stopping until I reached the end zone,” Hubbard said. “I can’t stop smiling. It is probably going to be one of the plays that made my senior year.”

“In that first series we were battling back and forth, but when the interception happened. That was a huge momentum change,” McNary head coach Jeff Auvinen added. 

The Celtics offense didn’t move the chains until the final play of the opening period. In the second quarter, however, they exploded for 28 points.

McCarty threw a strike to Aron Montoya for 21 yards on the first play of the second quarter. The following play, McCarty hit Tyler Copeland on a beautiful fade in the corner of the end zone to put the Celtics on top 14-0.

The Celtics only needed two plays to score in their following drive as running back Zane Aicher broke through a seam at the line-of-scrimmage and went untouched in route to his 65-yard score.

While the McNary offense found their groove later in the first half, their defense remained stout all game long for the second straight week — the Celtics held McKay to just three first downs in the first half. 

“Our defense takes a lot of pride in what we do and how we have played the last two weeks,” Hubbard said.

Two first down throws from McCarty to Tyler Copeland and Gunner Smedema got the Celtics inside the five. A four-yard touchdown catch by Braiden Copeland on a shallow cross extended the McNary lead to 28-0. 

“Our line did a really good job with run-blocking and pass-protection. There were some big-time plays from our quarterback and receivers, there’s no doubt about that,” Auvinen said. 

Not to be outdone by his little brother, Tyler Copeland extended the lead to 35-0 late in the second quarter with an incredible touchdown catch. With less than two minutes remaining in the half, McCarty targeted Copeland downfield and threw the ball up into double coverage. It appeared that a McKay safety was camped under the ball, prepared to make the interception. But at the last moment, Copeland leapt and snagged the ball out of the air and got to the end zone for the 32-yard score. 

“I thought I was going to get drilled, but I was able to snag it out of his hands,” Tyler said. “The passing game was our focus all week. That what our main priority was. We worked on a lot of pass plays this week and finding the open spot.”

McKay got on the board late in the third quarter, but Braiden Copeland put the finishing touches on this one when the Celtics got the ball back. On the Celtics first play of the second half, Copeland caught a quick slant, broke numerous tackles and rumbled 68 yards for his second score of the game.

The Celtics will go on the road for the first time this season on Friday, March 19 as they get set to take on Sprague at 7:30 p.m.

Matt Rawlings: [email protected]