KEIZER — Coming into this season, Kolby Barker and his McNary teammates wanted to reinvigorate the football program.
At 6-3 overall and coming off a big win against West Salem last week in the regular-season finale, the Celtics have done that.
“It was absolutely fantastic. We hadn’t beaten them in 11 years. For the school and for us, it was just a great memory,” said Barker, a senior who plays defensive end and linebacker, as well as on the offensive line. “We wanted it more than they did.”
McNary faces Tigard on Friday in the first round of the OSAA Class 6A state playoffs, as Barker prepares for his final postseason run with the Celtics.
“They’re going to be tough. They’re a good team,” Barker said. “I’ve watched a lot of their film, they’ve got some good guys, but nothing we can’t handle.”
McNary started the season 1-2 with consecutive losses to South Salem and Sprague. But since then, the Celtics are 5-1 heading into the postseason.
“We have great practices, and we have great game plans for every week. I’ve been on other McNary teams where we peak early, and just have to hold on for the rest of the season,” Barker said. “But this is not like that. Every single game, we get better. (Wednesday’s) practice was the best of the year. That just goes to show that we continue to progress, and that’s what great teams do.”
Barker is still weighing his options for the next level, and said he currently has offers from Portland State, Hawaii, Wyoming, Northern Arizona, UC Davis and Air Force.
“Being a college football player, you’re a college student first, so I’m looking for a great school and a place that would be great to live for five years,” Barker said. “I’m looking for a good team, with a great team atmosphere.”
McNary coach Jeff Auvinen said Barker is not only a talented football player, but also a well-rounded student with a bright future.
“He’s a great kid, No. 1. Great student, great leader, great community member, and obviously a great football player. He’s just the whole package. He’s one of a kind,” Auvinen said. “He’s a hard-worker, a positive influence.”
Even though he hasn’t completely decided on his future yet, Barker said he is interested in business.
“I want to study business, and then do a career in that in some way,” Barker said. “I haven’t thought too much about it.”
Although, he’s primarily an outside-rusher, or an edge-rusher, on defense, McNary has asked Barker to play multiple positions this season, and Auvinen said he has handled it well.
“We’ve used him kind of all over the board this year,” Auvinen said. “We’ve used him wherever we felt we had the best matchup. We moved him around quite a bit. He’s done a great job learning the different nuances and doing whatever we ask.”
After a thrilling victory last week against West Salem, McNary, which finished third in the Greater Valley Conference, will try to avoid a letdown this week against Tigard, which is 7-2 and finished third in the Three Rivers League.
“We all knew that beating West (Salem) was one of our main goals, that’s something we wanted to do,” Barker said. “But really, it’s the playoffs. I mean the playoffs, that’s the real time to shine. I think we’ve done a good job of being prepared, but we know we have to step up our game.”