Soldotna uses summer to plug holes

With just 3 seniors, Stars plot return to small-schools state championship game

Posted: Friday, August 19, 2005

 

 

In the two weeks of practice leading up to the season, the sun was shining for the first time in days and the football fields outside of Soldotna High School were absent a varsity team.

The Stars were inside the high school, watching a movie.

“We could be out there practicing right now, but we want to make this team into a family,” said Sarge Truesdell, who is entering his fourth full season as the varsity head coach. “That’s as important as anything.

“It makes a big difference when kids are doing things for each other instead of looking out for themselves.”

Truesdell said that when he started coaching at Soldotna eight years ago, he had no idea how much of a difference team bonding could make. He became a believer last season, when the Stars lost three starters before the season even started.

Based on talent alone, Trues-dell was not expecting extraordinary things out of the group. But the players bonded and went all the way to the state finals before playing Kenai tough in a loss.

This season, the Stars could again use the boost that bonding can give. The team lost 13 seniors last year and has just three seniors this year. Included in the graduates are small-schools offensive player of the year Garrett Gardner and small-schools co-lineman of the year Dan Spindler.

The Stars will be counting on 18 juniors, five sophomores and a freshman to mature in a hurry this year. Truesdell has confidence in the juniors.

“It’s the best class I’ve had since I’ve been here,” Truesdell said. “It’s full of talented, dedicated kids.”

The Stars also will be aided by the team camps they attended in the off-season.

“Typically, with the seniors we lost, it’d be a pretty tough camp because you’d have to find slots for people,” Truesdell said. “We went to two padded team camps, so our lineup is set. It’s the best off-season we’ve had since I’ve been here.”

Aleks Pfaffe, one of the two seniors on offense, will move over from receiver to play quarterback.

“He’s come a long way,” Truesdell said. “We weren’t even sure he would be the quarterback heading into the off-season. He’s a leader and he came to us and said he wanted to do it. He’s put in a lot of work.”

Junior Mike Reed will get the majority of the carries out of Soldotna’s three-back set. Sophomores Bryce Gardner and Marvin Tate also will start in the backfield.

Truesdell said the strength of the offense will be tight ends Kory Wilbanks, a senior, and Kelly Seggerman, a junior. Both tight ends will usually be on the field.

The biggest off-season project for the Stars was rebuilding the offensive line. Last year’s starters, tackle to tackle, are all graduated. Looking to fill in the huge gap will be sophomores Les Baker and Josh Denna and juniors Austin Roberts, Jose Gomez and Patrick Moore.

“That’s really where games are won,” Truesdell said of line play. “Maybe some people will look at the stats and think it’s all about the skill position kids.

“It’s the reason all of us are worried about Kenai.”

Truesdell said he is more worried about his offense than about his defense. He said his team is very athletic and should be able to get to the ball on defense. Offense relies more on execution. Truesdell said he thinks inexperience could be more of an issue there.

The defense will be led by senior middle linebacker Jacob Howarth, who was small-schools second-team all-state a year ago. Reed will man the other middle linebacker position. Outside linebackers will be junior Tony Besse and Seggerman.

In the secondary, Tate will play safety and Pfaffe will play one cornerback. Juniors Richard Hatt and Spencer Tachick were locked in a training camp battle the play the other corner.

The offensive linemen will all be in the rotation on the defensive line.

SOLDOTNA STARS

COLORS: Navy blue and white

2004 REGULAR SEASON RECORD: 5-3 (3-1 Northern Lights Conference)

HEAD COACH: Sarge Trues-dell (fourth year)

ASSISTANTS: Jeff Baker, Galen Brantley, Dave Emery, Brian Hawkins, Rob Carson, Justin Thompson

CAPTAINS: Kory Wilbanks, Jacob Howarth, Aleks Pfaffe

2005 VARSITY SCHEDULE

Aug. 13 at Colony 6 p.m.

Aug. 19 KODIAK 6:30 p.m.

Aug. 26 HOUSTON 6:30 p.m.

Sept. 2 HOMER 6:30 p.m.

Sept. 9 at Nikiski 6 p.m.

Sept. 16 SKYVIEW 6 p.m.

Sept. 24 EAGLE RIVER 2 p.m.

Oct. 1 at Kenai Central 2 p.m.

Home games in CAPS

Soldotna Varsity Roster

No.

Player

Grade

Ht

Wt

Pos

1

Richard Hatt

11

5-9

160

RB/DB

11

Aleks Pfaffe

12

6-2

195

QB/DB

15

Tony Besse

11

6-6

185

TE/LB

20

Anthony Griglione

9

5-10

170

RB/LB

21

Christos Asimakopoulos

11

5-9

160

TE/DB

22

Spencer Tachick

11

5-9

160

QB/DB

23

Mike Reed

11

5-10

185

RB/LB

25

John Demallie

11

5-10

170

RB/LB

26

Zack Landess

11

6-0

180

TE/DB

28

Jonny Coreson

11

5-8

150

TE/DB

29

Bryce Gardner

10

5-7

150

RB/DB

30

Caleb Jordan

11

5-9

165

RB/LB

31

Jake Ciufo

11

5-7

150

RB/DB

33

Marvin Tate

10

5-10

180

RB/DB

40

Jacob Howarth

12

5-8

170

RB/LB

44

Kelly Seggerman

11

6-2

205

TE/LB

50

Chet Syverson

11

6-0

170

OL/DB

55

Jose Gomez

11

5-9

220

OL/DL

56

Jarath Kantor

11

6-1

220

OL/LB

59

Mathew Strieby

10

5-10

220

OL/DL

66

Patrick Moore

11

5-10

240

OL/DL

70

Billy Dooley

11

6-0

230

OL/DL

72

Ryan Shelton

10

6-4

260

OL/DL

74

Austin Roberts

11

6-4

240

OL/DL

75

Les Baker

10

6-2

270

OL/DL

78

Josh Denna

10

6-1

260

OL/DL

84

Erick Morris

11

5-11

160

TE/DB

88

Kory Wilbanks

12

6-6

200

TE/DL

99

Tim Gleason

10

5-10

200

TE/LB



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