In each of the past two seasons, the Corvallis High football team has gone toe-to-toe with some of the Mid-Willamette Conference’s finest.
The Spartans missed the 5A state playoffs in 2015 after closing with heart-breaking defeats against Central (36-30) and South Albany (35-34). The Panthers and Rebels shared the conference title.
The trend continued last year as Corvallis dropped its final three MWC games by seven combined points, suffering tight losses to Silverton (23-21), Dallas (2-0) and Central (20-17). All three qualified for the postseason while Dallas and Central reached the semifinals.
“We made a lot of mistakes when it counted,” senior running back Roy Williams said. “Usually we’d play good throughout the games, but towards the end we couldn’t keep it together.”
Corvallis is 0-8 in games decided by seven or fewer points since 2015, including an 0-7 mark in MWC play.
A lack of depth and unfortunate luck have been the primary culprits.
“I could make all the excuses I want, but the bottom line is it’s a mindset that you have to make those three or four plays that can turn a game,” Spartans coach Chris McGowan said. “We don’t talk about it much, but we’re really trying to set a high standard in practice for finishing plays.”
Corvallis, which kicks off the season Friday night at North Eugene, hasn’t finished with a winning record since 2011. Williams is confident the streak will end this fall.
Top receivers Franklin Leonard and Kelly Kingsmcill, quarterback Seamus Hennessy and Williams return to an offense that put up 32.1 points per game last season. Only Lebanon, the MWC and state champion, averaged more at 36.2.
“I think we are strong everywhere on offense,” Williams said. “Seamus has picked it up a lot this year and he is doing great. Every receiver we have, they can all run routes and catch the ball.”
The undersized Williams proved to be a workhorse a season ago, rushing for 1,634 yards and 21 touchdowns on 250 carries. He was voted second-team all-state.
Williams ran for five scores against North Eugene and Crescent Valley.
“Roy will pound it through the hole, but he is also really fast,” Hennessy said. “He can really get on the outside and go.”
Corvallis is lighter on experience up front with Porter Johnson taking over at center while Riley Smith, a converted tight…