Soldotna and Skyview high schools played their final game against one another at Justin Maile Field in Soldotna on Saturday afternoon, the Stars getting the better of the Panthers in a 54-0 blowout that extended their winning streak to 16 games.
The Stars improved their Northern Lights Conference record to 4-0, equal with Kenai Central, and move to 7-0 overall. Skyview drops to 0-4 NLC and 1-5 overall.
“I knew that coach Finley knows that they’re pretty undermanned, and were really doing a good job at controlling the clock and not letting the score get out of control,” said Soldotna coach Galen Brantley Jr.
The two coaches — Skyview coach Chris Finley and Brantley Jr. — met on the field after the game to exchange compliments and pleasantries, an indication of the respect the two schools have garnered for each other over the years.
“Galen’s a great coach, and we’re developing a friendship there,” Finley said. “He’s a friend, and I want to coach with my friends.”
The action on the field Saturday, however, featured a very lopsided nature. Skyview’s first six possessions of the ball ended with three-and-out punts, while SoHi started with six touchdowns on its first six drives, while running about the same number of plays. SoHi’s average starting position on offense in the first half was at Skyview’s 46-yard line.
With backup quarterback Brooks Furlong co-operating the offense along with starting q uarterback Colton Young, the Stars came out strong with a 2-yard push up the middle from sophomore Nick Griglione that put points on the board after 4 1-2 minutes of play. Griglione led SoHi with 108 rushing yards and three touchdowns Saturday, while junior Jared Chavez added 107 and two touchdowns.
Less than two minutes later, senior Jake Kooly darted left to the outside to bring home a 17-yard touchdown that put SoHi up 14-0, and the Stars kept adding to their lead with touchdown runs of 14 yards from Young, 44 yards from Ty Fenton, 13 yards from Chavez and 11 yards from Griglione again, giving them a 40-0 halftime lead.
“We were able to get a lot of kids into the game and got out relatively healthy,” Brantley Jr. said. “Those were two of our goals heading into the weekend so we’re feeling pretty good about the way things went.”
Luckily for Soldotna, no players were hurt on Saturday, which is the way they wanted it after Tyler Howell and Drew Gibbs fell out with leg injuries sustained a week earlier against Homer. Both star players watched the Skyview game from the sidelines as a precaution.
In the second half, Skyview continued to look for Soldotna’s half of the field, coming up short at first but eventually began to make some headway with help from Tim Duke, who found 28 yards on only six carries in the second half.
“I haven’t had him at tailback all season, and he’s been begging me all season to play that tailback,” Finley said. “As soon as he gets the ball, he’s at full speed, which is what you want in a tailback. Some of those runs, even if there’s nothing there, he gets 2 yards because he’s at full speed and he slams into the guy.”
Skyview managed to tread down to the Soldotna 30 on its final drive of the game, but turned it over on fourth down.
“We did a pretty good job of managing the clock,” Finley said. “It would’ve been nice to move the ball a little more, but they’re fast and big.
“Defensively, we just had a tough time. We could not find the football. It’s a deceptive offense. (Brantley) will tell you, he runs five plays, but he runs those five plays pretty awesome.”
As if both sides knew what was coming, only three pass plays were made during the entire game, all from Skyview quarterback Bailey Jones (0-for-3 and one interception).
For Brantley Jr., the 16-game winning streak is one of the last things on his mind as his squad prepares for a Northern Lights Conference showdown with Kenai next Saturday that will decided the NLC winner for 2013.
“So much of (winning) comes onto how your schedule is laid out,” Brantley Jr. said. “We could’ve had tougher nonconference games. We’ve been on a couple long runs since I’ve been here, so we don’t hang a lot on those.”
For Finley, whose squad closes in on their final football game as a Skyview team next Saturday in Kodiak, the key focus will be about enjoying the moment.
“I just wanted them to enjoy the game, and that’s our goal,” Finley said. “The first half they were struggling, and at halftime I just broke it down for them, let’s have some fun, play football, and there’s worst things to be doing on a Saturday.”
Stars 54, Panthers 0
Soldotna 20 20 7 7 —54
Skyview 0 0 0 0 —0
Sol — Griglione 2 run (Fenton kick), 7:30
Sol — Kooly 17 run (Fenton kick), 5:39
Sol — Young 14 run (Kick failed), 1:48
Sol — Fenton 44 run (Fenton kick), 11:31
Sol — Chavez 12 run (Fenton kick), 4:23
Sol — Griglione 12 run (Kick blocked), 3:49
Sol — Griglione 24 run (Griglione kick), 5:50
Sol — Chavez 62 run (Griglione kick), 10:37
First Downs 14 2
Rushing yds 28-440 33-55
Pass yds 0 0
Comp-Att-Int 0-0-0 0-3-1
Return yds 32 64
Punts 0-0 8-34.3
Fumbles 1-0 1-0
Penalties 3-30 1-15
Rushing — Soldotna: Griglione 8-108, Chavez 5-107, Prior 5-74, Fenton 3-71, Kooly 4-38, Young 2-29, Furlong 1-13. Skyview: Duke 6-28, Casares 11-22, Gibbons 5-6, Craig 6-5, Hinz 4-(-4), Gallagher 1-(-2).
Passing — Soldotna: no attempts. Skyview: Jones 0-3-0—0.
Receiving — Soldotna: no receptions. Skyview: no receptions.