Salem — It was homecoming weekend at Sprague High School, and with all homecoming festivities, the Olys hosted Keizer foe McNary in their matchup. Unfortunately for Sprague, they couldn’t provide a response to the Celtics dominant offense on Thursday night, and McNary took full advantage on their way to their first win of 2019.
Sprague Draws First Blood, McNary Takes The First Half
McNary didn’t start the game strong, as they went three and out after electing to receive the opening kickoff. On the Olys opening drive, Sprague faced an early test with a 4th down situation on their own 48 yard line. The Olys converted the 4th down and later on, Elias Polanski connected with Carson Vankempen on a 22 yard TD to put Sprague ahead. The preceding extra point was blocked, and the Olys lead 6-0 with 6:39 left in the first quarter.
Alex Tavera took the kickoff 48 yards to the Sprague 37 to start the next McNary drive. The Celtics would take advantage on a third and long situation by throwing a screen pass to Junior Walling, who took it all the way for a 32 yard TD and McNary took the lead 7-6 after the PAT. After an Olys punt, a promising drive for McNary was ended on an interception by Sprague, but the Olys squandered their chance with a punt.
With a short field after Sprague shanked the punt, Erik Barker quickly worked his way into the end zone on a one yard QB keeper, and McNary extended the lead to 14-6 with 10:41 left in the first half. Sprague and McNary traded punts the next two drives until a controversial call turned the tide completely for Sprague.
The Olys had built some momentum and had the ball around midfield when they fumbled the ball late on the play, resulting in a McNary recovery even though an Oly emerged from the pile with it and it appeared the runner was already ruled to be down. After a short discussion, the officials ruled McNary ball and the Celtics went back to work.
McNary had the ball on the Sprague 20 when Walling knocked off some wimpy tacklers and took it 20 yards for the Celtics TD, making it 21-6 McNary with 3:43 left in the half. On the next Sprague possession, they came out firing with a deep pass to Zach Dodson-Greene who appeared to be gone on the play, but McNary stripped the ball and recovered on the Olys 4. However, a roughing the passer call overturned the turnover, and McNary entered the half leading 21-6.
Sprague Fights Back, But McNary Lays Down The Hammer
Opening the second half with possession, Sprague came out with some smash mouth football, running it up the gut and some counter plays mixed in. Eventually, Dodson-Greene capped it with a 21 yard TD catch to cut it to 21-12 after the failed 2 point conversion.
Bruised, McNary fired back less than a minute later, as Nico Sandoval carried the ball 36 yards for another rushing TD for the Celtics, making it 28-12 McNary with 9:11 left in the third quarter. After a Sprague punt, Walling made it a hat trick with his third touchdown of the game, this time from 50 yards and it was 35-12 McNary with 5:36 left in the third.
On the next possession, Polanski threw an interception to Ethan Rubio, ending another Sprague drive with a turnover. McNary turned it into a Haley Hughes field goal and a 38-12 advantage late in the third quarter. In the fourth, Walling put a cap on his evening with a rushing touchdown out of the Wildcat, his fourth score overall and McNary was pouring it on at 45-12. Sprague and McNary traded scores in garbage time and the Celtics cruised home to a 51-16 rout on the Olys Homecoming Weekend.
Thoughts From Four Time Junior Walling, Interceptor Ethan Rubio, And A Scorer Named Nico Sandoval
With a rout securely placed in their back pockets, Junior Walling, Ethan Rubio, and Nico Sandoval discussed picking up the first win of the season, the road forward, and the game as a whole.
Walling on his offensive dominance, “I appreciate it, I credit my O-Line. All the credit goes to those guys up front, they gave me great pushes all night, and I just did my job by scoring touchdowns.”
Rubio on how McNary shut down Sprague, “We had a Cover 2 lock on #10 (Vankempen). All we did was put two DB’s on him, or put our best one on him, and we would rotate, switch sides, and change up the coverages. That was our key to defeating them because he’s definitely their most skilled player.”
Sandoval on keeping the momentum in conference play, “The games before tonight were really hard, and we’re going to take how that felt, and just use that to never go back.”