The central Kenai Peninsula has six more residents who can call themselves hall-of-famers.
The Valley City State (N.D.) college hall of fame inducted a large class of former alumni athletes Friday, and the school’s 1996 football team is one of the new members.
Six of those football players on that year’s team graduated from either Soldotna, Skyview or Kenai Central, and two of them will be receiving individual honors in the ceremony.
Sarge Truesdell, Skyview graduate and current Soldotna Middle School principal, will be inducted along with Mikah Boudreaux, a Soldotna grad who currently belongs to an Atlanta-based Christian choir.
The banquet ceremony took place Friday, with the homecoming football game on Saturday seeing the inductees brought out to the crowd at halftime.
Both Truesdell and Boudreaux said they were excited and honored to a part of school’s history.
“I’m certainly proud of the fact I’m going in, but I’m more proud of the fact that the whole team is being inducted,” Boudreaux said. “There’s no way I could get it done without my teammates, and without 11 guys around you helping you, that’s what got it done.”
Truesdell said when he arrived at Valley City State as a freshman, he noticed the many faces of the school’s All-Americans adorning the halls, and dreamed of the thought of his face being included someday. The football coach, Dennis McCullough, who still coaches to this day, would poke fun at Truesdell about making the hall of fame.
“For years he’s always been razzing me about making the hall of fame and joking around asking if I’m going to mention him in my hall of fame speech and going back and forth with it,” Truesdell said. “Well this spring Mikah called and left me a message on my voice mail at school, and it’s so weird because it’s been so long since I’ve talked to Mikah, and I thought it was going to be about coming up with his singing group or something, and when he called he asked if the Valley City athletic director called me yet, and I said no, and he told me to call him back when he does.
“Right then and there, I thought there was something going down.”
Truesdell was a defensive back on the team, while Boudreaux played quarterback. Truesdell was also a three-time All-American wrestler and two-time All-American defensive back from 1996-98.
The other local members being inducted with the team include offensive guard Galen Brantley Jr. (SoHi grad and current Soldotna football coach), offensive tackle Jeff Baker (Skyview grad and current Kenai assistant coach), wide receiver and kicker Matt Streiff (Skyview grad, currently at Edward Jones in Kenai), and linebacker Ryan Magee (Kenai grad, currently with Three Bears in Kenai).
The team’s biggest accomplishment was qualifying for the National Associaton of Intercollegiate Athletics playoffs with a 9-2 record. Unfortunately, the team lost in the first round during a “driving hailstorm,” according to Boudreaux.
Both Boudreaux and Truesdell recall that game as a big game for the team, even as a loss, and the weather only added to the legend.
Other players on the team that did not graduate from Alaska but have coached in some form in Alaska are offensive guard Ned Clooten from North Dakota, a former head coach at Nikiski, and fullback Eric Pomerleau from Montana, who is the current Skyview head coach.
Boudreaux recalled his junior year at SoHi, when the team went to the Alaska high school playoffs and beat Eielson by two points in the semifinals. The next year, his senior year, the team qualified to the playoffs again and toppled Dimond in the semifinals, only to lose to none other than Eielson in the title game.
Truesdell mentioned that along with the All-Americans lining the hall at Valley City, there is a hall of fame display.
“Right in the center of the field house is a glass case with the hall of fame stuff, and that’s something that you don’t set your sights on because it’s the big time,” he said. “I always thought that I could get my picture on the wall, but not in the hall of fame.”