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Stars take quality over quantity

Posted: Friday, August 20, 2004

Soldotna's new uniforms are about as simple as they get. No names on the back. No extra coloring except for the numbers. No mascots anywhere.

SOLDOTNA STARS

COLORS: Navy blue and white

2003 REGULAR SEASON RECORD: 4-4 (3-1 Northern Lights Conference)

HEAD COACH: Sarge Truesdell (third year)

ASSISTANTS: Jeff Baker, Galen Brantley, Dave Emery, Brian Hawkins, Chris Blouin, Justin Thompson

CAPTAINS: Cameron Schneider, Garrett Gardner, Nic Warton, Daniel Spindler

2004 VARSITY SCHEDULE

Aug. 14 WEST 3 p.m.

Aug. 20 COLONY 6 p.m.

Aug. 28 at Lathrop 2 p.m.

Sept. 4 at Homer 4 p.m.

Sept. 11 at Skyview 2 p.m.

Sept. 18 NIKISKI 2 p.m.

Sept. 25 at Kodiak 2 p.m.

Oct. 2 KENAI 2 p.m.

Home games in CAPS

Head coach Sarge Truesdell, now in his third full year at the helm, also has simplified his program.

Truesdell is no longer going to beg kids to play football. He wants only players that are begging to play football.

The new attitude has left Truesdell with a talented group, but a smaller one. The Stars have 24 players on the varsity after fielding teams of 27 in 2003 and 34 in 2002.

"This group is totally focused," Truesdell said. "For these 24 guys, the No. 1 priority is Soldotna football.

"That's exactly what I want. Having 35 guys like that would be ideal, but I'll take 24."

The past two years, Truesdell said his teams underachieved. In 2002, the Stars lost in the small-schools championship game to Kenai Central. Last year, SoHi lost in the semifinals to Eielson.

"The kids came out and had fun and made the playoffs, but we didn't win state," Truesdell said. "That was the goal coming in. It's the same goal this year."

In order to achieve that goal, Soldotna will have to avoid injuries. In terms of depth, Truesdell said this is the thinnest squad he has seen at SoHi in his seven years coaching at the school. The Stars have 15 seniors, but a junior class of just four has resulted in five sophomores making the varsity.

Particularly worrisome for Truesdell is a schedule that features Soldotna playing big schools West, Colony and Lathrop right out of the box.

"Especially with the schedule we have, staying healthy is our No. 1 priority," Truesdell said. "Talentwise, we're good enough to be there October 16."

At the top of that talent heap for the Stars are seniors Cameron Schneider, Garrett Gardner, Matt Hicks, Dan Spindler and Kurt Romberg.

"All those guys will be on the field all the time," Truesdell said.

Schneider completed 32 passes for 531 yards in the regular season last year. Truesdell said the senior, who also will play defensive back, has done everything asked of him in the off-season.

Gardner, who has been on varsity since he was a sophomore and was first team all-Northern Lights Conference last season, carried 61 times for 560 yards last year. He will see most of the carries this year and play defensive back.

Spindler was the conference lineman of the year last year and will play offensive and defensive line.

Hicks, third in the state shot put at state last year, and Romberg also will go both ways on the offensive and defensive line.

Playing halfback for the Stars will be brothers Jeremy and Brandy Goracke, while 6-foot-5 tight end Kory Wilbanks should give Schneider a big target.

Split end Aleks Pfaffe, at 6-0, also should catch a lot of passes this season. Pfaffe went out for track to get ready for football. He also attended a pair of camps this summer.

Filling out the offensive line for the Stars will be senior Nic Warton and sophomore Austin Roberts.

Truesdell said the linemen will have to be tough and play both ways, because there are few backups at the position.

On defense, Truesdell is looking to those linemen, as well as the linebackers, to be a wall against the running attack.

The linebackers will be led by Jacob Howarth, who was first team all-conference last year as a sophomore.

Other linebackers will be sophomore Kelly Seggerman, Brandy Goracke and senior Ben Breakfield.

Pfaffe, Schneider and Jeremy Goracke will play in the secondary.

"Most of the conference is going to be running the football," Truesdell said. "I'm confident in the ability of our front eight to handle other team's running attacks."

Stars take quality over quantity

By JEFF HELMINIAK

Peninsula Clarion

Soldotna's new uniforms are about as simple as they get. No names on the back. No extra coloring except for the numbers. No mascots anywhere.

SOLDOTNA STARS

COLORS: Navy blue and white

2003 REGULAR SEASON RECORD: 4-4 (3-1 Northern Lights Conference)

HEAD COACH: Sarge Truesdell (third year)

ASSISTANTS: Jeff Baker, Galen Brantley, Dave Emery, Brian Hawkins, Chris Blouin, Justin Thompson

CAPTAINS: Cameron Schneider, Garrett Gardner, Nic Warton, Daniel Spindler

2004 VARSITY SCHEDULE

Aug. 14 WEST 3 p.m.

Aug. 20 COLONY 6 p.m.

Aug. 28 at Lathrop 2 p.m.

Sept. 4 at Homer 4 p.m.

Sept. 11 at Skyview 2 p.m.

Sept. 18 NIKISKI 2 p.m.

Sept. 25 at Kodiak 2 p.m.

Oct. 2 KENAI 2 p.m.

Home games in CAPS

Head coach Sarge Truesdell, now in his third full year at the helm, also has simplified his program.

Truesdell is no longer going to beg kids to play football. He wants only players that are begging to play football.

The new attitude has left Truesdell with a talented group, but a smaller one. The Stars have 24 players on the varsity after fielding teams of 27 in 2003 and 34 in 2002.

"This group is totally focused," Truesdell said. "For these 24 guys, the No. 1 priority is Soldotna football.

"That's exactly what I want. Having 35 guys like that would be ideal, but I'll take 24."

The past two years, Truesdell said his teams underachieved. In 2002, the Stars lost in the small-schools championship game to Kenai Central. Last year, SoHi lost in the semifinals to Eielson.

"The kids came out and had fun and made the playoffs, but we didn't win state," Truesdell said. "That was the goal coming in. It's the same goal this year."

In order to achieve that goal, Soldotna will have to avoid injuries. In terms of depth, Truesdell said this is the thinnest squad he has seen at SoHi in his seven years coaching at the school. The Stars have 15 seniors, but a junior class of just four has resulted in five sophomores making the varsity.

Particularly worrisome for Truesdell is a schedule that features Soldotna playing big schools West, Colony and Lathrop right out of the box.

"Especially with the schedule we have, staying healthy is our No. 1 priority," Truesdell said. "Talentwise, we're good enough to be there October 16."

At the top of that talent heap for the Stars are seniors Cameron Schneider, Garrett Gardner, Matt Hicks, Dan Spindler and Kurt Romberg.

"All those guys will be on the field all the time," Truesdell said.

Schneider completed 32 passes for 531 yards in the regular season last year. Truesdell said the senior, who also will play defensive back, has done everything asked of him in the off-season.

Gardner, who has been on varsity since he was a sophomore and was first team all-Northern Lights Conference last season, carried 61 times for 560 yards last year. He will see most of the carries this year and play defensive back.

Spindler was the conference lineman of the year last year and will play offensive and defensive line.

Hicks, third in the state shot put at state last year, and Romberg also will go both ways on the offensive and defensive line.

Playing halfback for the Stars will be brothers Jeremy and Brandy Goracke, while 6-foot-5 tight end Kory Wilbanks should give Schneider a big target.

Split end Aleks Pfaffe, at 6-0, also should catch a lot of passes this season. Pfaffe went out for track to get ready for football. He also attended a pair of camps this summer.

Filling out the offensive line for the Stars will be senior Nic Warton and sophomore Austin Roberts.

Truesdell said the linemen will have to be tough and play both ways, because there are few backups at the position.

On defense, Truesdell is looking to those linemen, as well as the linebackers, to be a wall against the running attack.

The linebackers will be led by Jacob Howarth, who was first team all-conference last year as a sophomore.

Other linebackers will be sophomore Kelly Seggerman, Brandy Goracke and senior Ben Breakfield.

Pfaffe, Schneider and Jeremy Goracke will play in the secondary.

"Most of the conference is going to be running the football," Truesdell said. "I'm confident in the ability of our front eight to handle other team's running attacks."



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