Go Stars! Go Bulldogs!

High school football teams from Soldotna and Nikiski are headed to Chugiak this weekend for the ASAA First National Bowl — the state’s football championship games.

Nikiski will attempt to repeat as the small-schools state champion with a 3:30 p.m. kickoff against Eielson at Chugiak High School.

Following that game, Soldotna plays Homer for the medium-schools title, with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

We wish both squads the best of luck. And we also send our congratulations, because win or lose on Saturday, we’re proud of what they’ve accomplished this season.

We’ve always said high school sports are as much about building character and learning life skills as they are about winning and losing. That’s why we’ve taken to calling them co-curricular rather than extra-curricular — sports and other activities do much to enhance and enrich a high school education.

But co-curriculars enhance more than just an individual’s education — they serve to build school spirit, and are a point of pride for our communities. Whether it’s success in the sports arena, a strong forensics team, or a great band concert or drama production, we take pride in seeing the talents of our community’s young adults find a place to shine.

We’d also like to take a moment to give a shout-out to the seniors on both squads, who have enjoyed quite a ride during their high school careers. Soldotna’s seniors include Reid Schmelzenbach, Hunter Hamrick, Troy Streiff, Cameron Grothe, John Alexander, Zane Miller, Jarret Urban, Noah Fowler, John Brown, Chet Henson, Gavin Larson, Connor Schoessler, and Travis Perkovich. Nikiski’s seniors are Stephen Hartley, Tristin Apted, Jesse Cobb, Devan Berry, Jesse Ross and Lincoln Johnson. Enjoy this last trip onto the gridiron — at the risk of waxing nostalgic, it is one of the most exciting times of your lives. When the final seconds have ticked off the clock, make sure you can leave the field with your heads held high, knowing you gave it all you had. We’re sure you’ll represent your schools and communities well.

So once more, with feeling: Go Stars! Go Bulldogs! We’re pulling for you!

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