Area football teams seek win column

Tough matchups led to winless Week 1 for Peninsula teams

After failing to win a game in Week 1, Kenai Peninsula football squads will get on the board tonight at 6:30 p.m. when Skyview travels to face Nikiski.


Nikiski, of the small-schools division, was the lone Peninsula squad to score more than 10 points in Week 1, bowing to large-schools Lathrop 44-41.

While many Peninsula teams have big holes to fill from last year, Nikiski offensive coordinator Scott Anderson said Week 1 results were more about matchups.

Nikiski, Kenai Central, Soldotna and Skyview were all playing up a level, while Homer is still jelling its team after members spent the summer fishing.

“We fully expect a four-quarter battle with Skyview,” Anderson said. “It’s good to have these games early.

“Houston will be a quality opponent next week. We’ll have three good nonconference games heading into the conference schedule.”

Like Nikiski, Skyview coach Eric Pomerleau said his team needs experience. The Panthers lost to Colony 56-7 in Week 1.

“It was the first varsity game for a lot of the kids,” Pomerleau said. “Now they’ve seen how fast it is, and how important it is to be technically solid on every play.”

Anderson was happy with the way a number of new and young players performed in Week 1. Senior center Jesse Cobb, senior wide receiver Jesse Ross and senior fullback Tristin Apted were seeing their first extended varsity action.

Junior Seth Carstens did well as the new quarterback, while sophomore Christian Riddall was solid in the backfield and freshman Luke Johnson and sophomore Jacob Williams made debuts on the line.

“As an offensive coordinator, it was great to see the kids move the ball and score,” Anderson said. “The things we need to fix are easy fixes.”

While Nikiski comes into the game healthy, Skyview will be missing running back and linebacker Brandon Rice, who broke his hand against Colony.

“If you lose anybody who starts for you, it’s a big loss,” Pomerleau said. “We’ll rally behind the new kids we put in and do the best we can.”

Kenai at Colony, 7 p.m. Friday

The medium-schools Kardinals, who lost 42-7 to large-schools East in Week 1, face another tough test on the road against the large-schools Knights.

Colony notched a 56-7 victory over Skyview in Week 1.

Because the Kards opened up Friday, and Colony visited Skyview on Saturday, Kenai coach John Marquez got a good look at the Knights.

“They are a very solid, well-disciplined team with big guys up front,” Marquez said. “They run the zone-read option very well.”

Marquez said East has an impressive array of athletes on its team, and he said the Knights, minus maybe a few speedsters, are right with the Thunderbirds.

“We’ve got another tough week,” he said. “We need to correct the mistakes we made on offense and defense against East.”

On offense, pre-snap penalties and a lack of execution meant the Kards had trouble possessing the ball. On defense, Kenai let East convert third-and-longs with errors in coverage and poor tackling.

Making the game tougher is the health of senior running back Grayden Mendenhall, who twisted his ankle against East.

Marquez said Mendenhall can’t be brought down with an arm tackle, making him perfect for the 3- or 4-yard gains that keep the chains moving.

The coach said Mendenhall wants to play, but the staff must look at the big picture.

Marquez did offer kudos to senior lineman Duncan Brewer for a great game against East. He said Brewer was able to manhandle a couple of East’s big guys, and that he also did not come off the field the entire game.

Ketchikan at Soldotna,
2 p.m. Saturday

The two medium-schools foes will face off in a nonconference game.

Soldotna lost to Palmer 27-7 in Week 1, while Ketchikan lost 30-8 to Sitka.

Soldotna coach Galen Brantley Jr. said he has no film on the Kings, but that the lack of film is not the end of the world.

“Our focus, especially early in the season, is really on us, anyway,” Brantley Jr. said. “I don’t see it as a major disadvantage.

“We’ve got enough execution issues to keep us busy for a while.”

On the top of that list is finishing drives. Soldotna ventured inside Palmer’s 5-yard line three times in the opener without scoring, turning a potential barnburner into a comfortable win for the Moose.

“That took us out of any possibility of turning it into a ball game,” he said.

SoHi has become known for its rushing attack under Brantley Jr., but senior quarterback Noah Fowler went 6 of 10 for 94 yards in the opener.

Stars fans should not be surprised at continued attempts at an aerial attack.

“I have the kids to do it,” Brantley Jr. said. “Every coach changes their offense from year to year based on the ability of the kids they have back there.

“I have kids that I have a lot of confidence in.”

The coach also said he his happy to have a team without any major injuries heading into Week 2.

On defense, Brantley Jr. lauded the play of junior linebacker Jake Kooly, who had 19 tackles against the Moose.

Homer, bye

The Mariners were originally scheduled to play Barrow this week, but the nonconference game ended up not happening.

Homer coach Camron Wyatt said this just gives his squad an extra week to get ready for a Week 3 clash with Kenai. The Kards topped the Mariners for the medium-schools state football title last season.

“The way I look at it, we have a lot of kids coming in off the boats,” Wyatt said. “It’s an opportunity to get us an extra week where we don’t have to play.”

Seward at Eielson,
6 p.m. Friday

The Seahawks will look to recover from a 60-8 loss to Lathrop’s junior varsity in Week 1. Eielson opened up with a 26-6 victory over Homer.


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