McNary running back Dyami Rios drags a trio of Sandy defenders (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).
While McNary did good things on both sides of the ball, it was the offense, more specifically, the passing attack, that shined the brightest during the Celtics jamboree on Friday, Aug. 30, where they scrimmaged Reynolds and Sandy at Beaverton High School.
After the offense had a poor showing at the Blue Day intersquad scrimmage a week prior, head coach Jeff Auvinen was very pleased with the improvement that his players showed.
“I thought the guys up front gave us a lot of holes and gave the quarterbacks plenty of time to throw,” Auvinen said. “The offense was a world of difference. It was a little disappointing on Blue Day, mostly because we knew our offense was better than that. But they improved a ton in just a week and really came out and played much better. It was good to see.”
In the Celtics first offensive series against Sandy, Zane Aicher kept the drive alive with his first down catch on a screen pass from quarterback Erik Barker. On the next play, Barker found senior receiver Noah Lelack on a deep out route in the corner of the end zone for a 22-yard score.
McNary scored quickly on their second offensive series as well. This time, Barker hit Ethan Martin on the run for a 12-yard touchdown.
After Sandy forced a turnover on the following McNary possession, wideout Alex Tavera got in on the action moments later, catching a three-yard touchdown from Barker.
While Barker showed why he is touted as the top signal-caller in the Mountain Valley Conference, his backup, Jack McCarty, showed that he can be a reliable guy to run the offense if called upon.
McCarty showed off his running capability in the following scrimmage against Reynolds when he kept the ball on a zone read and ran through the teeth of the Raiders defense to score from 14 yards.
On the Celtics following possession, McCarty threw a dart to Tavera on a crossing pattern and the senior receiver took it 40 yards to the house.
“(McCarty) is going to go in there and give you everything he’s got. He’s a student of the game and is a well respected kid who works as hard as anyone. We’re in very capable hands when Jack is running things,” Auvinen said.
McNary had two other touchdowns against Reynolds — a 32-yard catch by Riley Flores from Barker and a 40-yard score on a fly-sweep by Martin.
It was a rough start to the jamboree defensively for McNary as Sandy quarterback Chet Chamberlain scampered for a 40-yard touchdown run on the opening play.
However, the Celtics were able to tighten things up for the remainder of their scrimmage with the Pioneers.
McNary’s Junior Walling showed why he is one of the best defensive players in the state as the senior linebacker came up with three tackles for loss and a forced fumble in Sandy’s first 10 offensive plays.
McNary’s opening defensive play against Reynolds was a different story as safety Junior Nunez picked off the first pass attempt from Raiders quarterback Dominique Miller.
However, Miller broke loose for a pair of touchdown runs later in the scrimmage as the Celtics had a difficult time managing the senior signal-caller’s athleticism.
“We definitely had some ups and downs on defense. We need to do a better job of owning our gaps. Reynolds was very physical and we can’t give them the space to use their athleticism,” Auvinen said. “Sometimes we’re really solid, but there were times where we didn’t slant or go to the right blitzing hole as accurately as we should of and that opened up some bubbles.”
But the McNary defense ended the jamboree on a high note thanks to back-to-back sacks by Dyami Rios.
McNary’s season officially gets underway on Friday, Sept. 6 as the Celtics travel to North Medford for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
On paper, McNary is likely the better team. However, North Medford stomped on the Celtics in the opening game last season, winning the contest 55-27.
“Our mantra is that we want to match their physicality. We need to win the leverage battle. If we do that, we’ll be in good shape,” Auvinen said.