McNary Football, Sports

Celtic football opens season at Lakeridge Friday

Camps are done. Jamborees are in the books. That means it’s officially time for the football season to begin, and McNary heads up to Lakeridge for the season opener on Friday, Sept. 2.

The Celtics face a Pacers squad that has made back-to-back quarter finals appearances, losing in overtime to West Linn 10-7 last season. In the second round of the 2022 playoffs, Lakeridge took down perennial powerhouse Sheldon 40-7. 

McNary head coach Connor Astley knows this is a tough and important matchup early in the season that gives his team a chance to face a quality opponent.

“This is a top-five, potentially, team in the state, so let’s see what we look like,” Astley said. 

The McNary defense will be tested, especially the secondary with Lakeridge wide receiver Joey Olsen. The 6-foot-five-inch junior is one of two 247Sports four-star recruits in the state — McNary will see the other later in the year when they face AJ Pugliano and North Medford. As a sophomore, Olsen averaged 26 yards per reception, totalling 727 yard and seven touchdowns for the Pacers.

Astley is confident in his defense’s ability, especially after its performance at jamboree against Sherwood and Tigard.

“Our linebackers played amazingly well,” Astley said. “Those guys played phenomenal, they were in on every tackle it seemed like. Ben Allen had a couple really good sacks and tackles for losses.”

At quarterback, Lakeridge sends out senior Ryan Oliver. This is Oliver’s third year starting for Lakeridge, after throwing for 1,635 yards, 17 touchdowns and only five interceptions last season.

“I’ve been watching film on him from last year and he’s very shifty,” Astley said.

In the backfield for the Pacers Ronald “Chili” Stephens, a senior transfer from Grant. The 6-foot 220 pound running back is said to play with both size and finesse. Stephens averaged over 5.5 yards per carry last season, but had an astonishing 197 yards on just eight catches out of the backfield.

Another transfer that will play a major role for Lakeridge is 6-foot-7-inch defensive end Tristan Davis. He was an honorable mention for 5A all-state last season at Wilsonville, and has offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Nevada.

For McNary, jamboree also brought some answers on the offensive side of the ball, and Astley is going with senior Jackson Alt behind center against Lakeridge over junior Gage Smedema. 

“He played really well against those two squads,” Astley said. “He can read a defense really well and understands what’s in front of him.”

But that doesn’t mean Smedema won’t be a big piece of what McNary does on Friday. He’s a potent weapon at receiver for Alt and the McNary offense, and a starting defensive back. 

“If we do what we’re supposed to do on defense and we run our schemes and do the things that we’re taught, I think we’re in pretty good shape,” Astley said. “Offensively, they’ve got a couple really good d-linemen and I think we’ll have our work cut out for us. But if we get our guys in space and if we do the things we’re supposed to do I think it’ll be a really competitive game.”