It was off of the boats and into the end zone for Homer’s Konstantin Reutov and Quinn Daugherty.
Daugherty scored touchdowns on a reception and an interception return, and Reutov scored on a run, as Homer defeated Kenai Central 20-0 on Saturday at Ed Hollier Field in Kenai.
By avenging a loss in last year’s medium-schools state title game, the Mariners improved to 1-0 in the Northern Lights Conference and 1-1 overall. Kenai is 0-1 and 0-3.
“This is one of the best feelings in my life,” Homer lineman Joe Resetarits said. “I’ve been waiting a long time for this.”
Saturday was the first time Reutov and Daugherty had played competitive football.
“We’re a football family,” Homer coach Camron Wyatt said. “We’ve always wanted those two boys out, but it was tough because of fishing.
“They helped us out today.”
Reutov broke a scoreless tie with a 57-yard touchdown run with 5:26 left in the third quarter. Kenai fumbled on its next possession, and Sheldon Hutt found Daugherty for a 13-yard scoring strike with 15 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Kards opened the fourth quarter with the football, but Daugherty returned an interception 35 yards for another score and a 20-0 lead.
“Hats off to them,” Kenai coach John Marquez said of Reutov and Daugherty. “They made plays today. They looked like they’d been playing since they were 8 years old.”
Wyatt said both Reutov and Daugherty were not ready for Homer’s opener against Eielson because a tough fishing season had both fishing late in order to make more money.
When they did report to the team, the Homer coaches gave them a crash course in football by relating football concepts to those in other sports, like basketball.
“On that interception, we were playing zone,” Wyatt said. “We told (Daugherty), ‘Just feather back and make a break on the ball.’”
While Reutov and Daugherty were the ones in the end zone, Wyatt wanted to emphasize that the win was a team effort, with both the offensive and defensive lines doing a great job.
Homer lost three fumbles in the first half, but Kenai was unable to convert those turnovers into points.
“We came in with a new defense,” Resetarits said. “Our defensive line played tough. We played every play like it was our last play.”
Marquez said the Mariners loaded up to stop the run.
“They put nine in the box. They were saying, ‘Throw the ball,’ and we couldn’t do that,” Marquez said.
At that point, it became a grudge match between lines. Marquez said his team showed great effort and execution, but gave credit to Homer’s front.
“They beat us up front,” he said. “They have a good line. They’re big. They come at you and hit you.”
Marquez said it took his team until deep into the second half to adjust to what Homer was doing on defense, and by then it was too late.
The Kenai coach did say his squad had a great game on defense. He said one of the only mistakes the Kards made all day was a missed blitz on Reutov’s big touchdown run.
Homer beat the defending champs on their own field despite dressing just 14 players.
Wyatt said things like that don’t happen without the support of the entire community. He said at halftime, a player had an ankle that needed to be wrapped.
A community member who knows how to tape ankles stepped in so the small coaching staff could use all its energy to make adjustments for the second half.
“It’s neat to see how everybody is coming together to support us,” Wyatt said.
Jason Daniels paced Kenai with 17 rushes for 117 yards, while Grayden Mendenhall had 17 rushes for 52 yards. Kyle Foree paced the Kards with 10 tackles — nine solo and one assisted.