Soldotna's first game of the 2010 prep football season against visiting Wasilla on Friday looked like, well, the first game of the season. The two combined for eight turnovers, 13 fumbles and more than 230 penalty yards as the Stars came away with a 15-7 victory.
"It was the turnover bowl instead of the state championship, that's for sure," Warriors head coach Glenn Nelson said.
"It was pretty sloppy," Stars head coach Galen Brantley Jr. said. "We have a long way to go in the discipline department."
Each team lost four fumbles. Three of Wasilla's seven fumbles came inside the red zone.
"We just got to work on holding onto the ball," Nelson said.
Missed blocking assignments and the offense's timing being off were two major flaws in the Stars game, Brantley Jr. said. On defense, third and fourth downs need improvement, he said.
"We could have done better on defense and on offense," Stars captain Philip Bennett said. "We didn't execute right."
Though SoHi has plenty to work on this week at practice, it still comes out of Week 1 undefeated.
"On the bright side, it's a 15-7 win, and we'll take it and run," Brantley Jr. said.
"It feels great getting that W," he said.
Brantley Jr. said his team can use the game as a lesson.
"As painful as first games can be, they expose what you need to work on," he said.
For the Warriors, running with the ball will be the focal point in practice, Nelson said.
Penalties, too, hampered both teams. The Warriors had more than 120 yards in penalties to SoHi's 110.
A multitude of turnovers and penalties isn't going to win football games, Nelson said.
Bennett literally carried the Stars to victory, racking up 235 yards rushing and two touchdowns. As a captain, Bennett said it's his job to motivate the rest of the team.
"I come out here and just try to dominate," he said.
Bennett's first touchdown came a minute and a half into the game. He broke for a 60-yard run to give the Stars an early 6-0 advantage. Wasilla took a 7-6 lead on a 10-yard run by Devon Teeling midway through the second quarter. Prior to the score, the Warriors opted for a field-goal attempt on fourth down. Alex Solelev converted the kick but a penalty on Wasilla put it out of field-goal range. On SoHi's 29-yard line, Wasilla went for it. A.J. Marshall completed a 19-yard pass to David Green for the first down. Teeling scored on the ensuing play.
Daniel Koch added a field goal 1:40 before the half to give SoHi a 9-7 lead.
Mark Griffiths had a huge kickoff return to SoHi's 36-yard line to start the second half. Two plays later the Warriors fumbled and SoHi took over at its 37-yard line. But the Stars couldn't capitalize on the turnover.
Bennett reached the end zone for a second time with 6:17 to play in the final quarter when he escaped for a 34-yard run to the right side.
"I had good blocking," Bennett said. The play wouldn't have been possible without his linemen, he said.
When SoHi forced a turnover on downs with just over four minutes to play, it looked poised to seal the win. But Auston Tennis fumbled on the first play of the drive and Wasilla recovered, taking over near midfield.
A 23-yard pass from Braylen Kuiper to Tyler Anderson put Wasilla at SoHi's 30-yard line with a fresh set of downs. Then the Stars defense stepped up.
Tate Syverson dropped Griffiths for an 8-yard loss. Then Dakota Elsey followed by bringing Luke Wild down 14 yards behind the line of scrimmage on the next play. After gaining possession on a turnover on downs, SoHi drained the remaining 1:43 of the clock.
Brantley Jr. said he couldn't be happier with the effort put forth by his team.
"The effort was tremendous," he said. "If the execution gets figured out, they will be dynamite."
Stars 15, Warriors 7
Wasilla 0 7 0 0 -- 7
Soldotna 6 3 0 6 -- 15
Soldotna -- Bennett 60 run (kick failed), 10:28
Wasilla -- Teeling 10 run (Solelev kick), 6:26
Soldotna -- Koch 28 Field Goal, 1:40
Soldotna -- Bennett 34 run (kick failed), 6:17
First downs 14 12
Rushes-yards 37-59 39-328
Comp-att-int 12-25-0 0-1-0
Passing yards 204 0
Fumbles-lost 7-4 6-4
Penalties 15-123 14-110
Punts-avg 1-26 1-6
Rushing: Wasilla: Griffiths 11-13, Wild 5-15, Teeling 6-44, Marshall 11-(-8), Kuiper 4-(-5); Soldotna: Bennett 19-235, Smithwick 4-29, Tennis 10-51, Fowler 2-(-4), Schmelzenbach 2-9, Duncan 2-8
Passing: Wasilla: Kuiper 5-11-0-82, Wild 0-1-0-0, Teeling 1-1-0-16, Marshall 6-12-0-106; Soldotna: Fowler 0-1-0-0
Receiving: Wasilla: Green 5-112, Kuiper 1-16, Anderson 1-23, Probasco 1-19, Teeling 1-17, Griffiths 2-17
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