Friday night was the longest road trip of the season for the McNary Celtics as they traveled to South Medford to take open league play against the Panthers on Sept. 16.
The Celtics’ (0-3, 0-1) 55-21 loss to the Panthers (3-0, 1-0) was both the most points allowed and most points scored by Connor Astley’s squad this season.
After being blanked in the season opener against Lakeridge 47-0, McNary put points on the board in the home opener, a 44-19 loss to Tutalatin, scoring a field goal and two touchdowns.
On Friday in South Medford, the Celtics found the endzone three times.
“We went tried and true,” Astey said. “We ran the ball, we trusted our o-linemen. We gave some quick slants and quick out-routes just to keep them honest on the outside, but we know who we are now. We can run the ball and that’s what we’re going to lean on.”
Two of those scores were on the ground, as running backs Jake Allen and Hunter Ruberto each had a rushing touchdown.
The Celtics other score was a 50-yard first half touchdown connection between quarterback Jackson Alt and receiver Jabol Balos on a corner route that Balos took the distance.
Defensively, the Celtics gave Astley a lot to be proud of, but inconsistencies allowed for the Panthers to take advantage.
“When we were in the right spots and we were communicating and doing everything we were supposed to be doing as a defense we looked damn good,” Astley said. “We made them earn every yard”
Astley noted two particular drives where the Panthers drove the field and faced third-and-long situations. But defensive miscues and miscommunications from the Celtics led to first downs and touchdowns.
And for the second week in a row, one big play before halftime changed the whole complexion of the game.
Last week, it was a recovered fumble to convert a fourth down for Tualatin that led to 12-points in less than four minutes. This week, Astley puts any blame on himself.
“Going into halftime, if I don’t make a bad play call and overthink myself it’s 21-14 instead of 28-14 at halftime,” Astley said. “We’re right in it right there if I don’t overthink myself, but props to them, they took advantage of it.”