In the race to make the playoffs, nonconference games mean next to nothing in Alaska high school football.
Both Skyview coach Phil Sheridan and Soldotna coach Sarge Truesdell are attaching meaning to their nonconference games Saturday, though.
The Panthers and Stars have both started the season 0-2. The coaches of both squads said a win this week would help confidence heading into the Northern Lights Conference season.
Skyview hosts Wasilla at 2 p.m. Saturday to open its home schedule. Soldotna will play Lathrop at 3 p.m. at Wasilla High School Saturday. The game was moved from Lathrop due to heavy smoke from wildfires in the Fairbanks area.
"We really need a win," Truesdell said. "I'm not going to beat around the bush about that. We feel like we're playing a team that we can beat and go after."
The Malemutes are 0-2 this season and have given up 93 points while not scoring any.
The Stars will be without starting linebacker and halfback Brandy Goracke. Garrett Gardner, who did not finish last week's game against Colony but leads the team with 133 rushing yards, will return for this week's game.
The Panthers are coming off a 33-0 loss to North Pole. Skyview lost three players to injury in the game. Those three, and another injured in practice, will not play this week.
Sheridan said players returning from ineligibility should help bolster Skyview's lineup in the face of those injuries.
"I think we can beat Wasilla," Sheridan said. "Against North Pole, it was more about not trying to get hurt. Unfortunately, we got hurt anyway."
Sheridan said his team has been hurt by long pass plays the first few weeks of the season. Skyview worked all week on pass coverage to fix that problem.
Kenai at Colony, 7 p.m. Saturday
This game features a pair of teams with 2-0 records, but Kenai Central coach Jim Beeson is keeping the matchup in perspective.
"It's a great game to see how we stack up," Beeson said. "We want to win all our football games, but obviously we want to be healthy the following week when the games start counting."
Lineman Dustin Stelljes and safety Brandon Miles are hurt and will not play for Kenai.
Colony, led by quarterback Rhett Magner and receiver Justin Schwartzbauer, should be a good test for Kenai's secondary.
On offense, Beeson will try to incorporate more passing. He intended to pass more in a 50-0 victory over Lathrop, but saw no need to once Kenai's rushing attack, led by Dakota Craig, started dominating the game.
Nikiski vs. ACS at Chugiak, 5 p.m. Friday
The Bulldogs, who are 2-0 in the Great Land Conference, will look to stay undefeated with a game against Anchorage Christian Schools, which is 0-2 overall.
Nikiski has been dominant in its first two games, outscoring opponents 102-12.
Running backs Justin Tumbaga and Jared Mazurek have been leading the way for Nikiski this season. Tumbaga has 30 rushes for a gaudy 304 yards, while Mazurek has rushed 17 times for 132 yards.
Seward vs. Eielson at Houston, 6 p.m.
This game also was moved from the Fairbanks area due to smoke from wildfires.
The Seahawks come into the game at 2-0 in the Great Land Conference after thumping Valdez and Sitka.
Eielson, the defending conference champion, should provide a stiffer test for the Seahawks. The Ravens stuck with defending small-schools state champion Kenai and also defeated Palmer 14-0.
"They have to be one of the favorites," Seward co-coach Roger Steinbrecher said. "We'll give it our best shot. We know they've had a good program over the years."
The Seahawks will be getting eight players back who had either been ineligible or had reported to the team late.
Steinbrecher said the Seahawks have been getting solid play from quarterback Coty Beck, linebacker Charles Logan and running backs and linebackers Jason Weber and Jake Wilder.
North Pole at Homer, 6:30 p.m. Friday
The Mariners are 2-0 coming off a 20-0 victory over Anchorage Christian Schools.
Running back Camron Hagen, who rushed for two touchdowns against ACS, said Homer will have to raise its level of play to compete with North Pole.
Skyview coach Phil Sheridan, whose team lost to the Patriots 33-0 last week, said North Pole is the best team in the state.
Hagen said the three fumbles and 10 penalties Homer had against ACS will be unacceptable today. North Pole defeated Homer 64-0 last year.
"We are going to go in, do our best, go in with a lot of heart, go in hitting, and see how it comes out," Hagen said. "We're looking for a different score this week."
Homer News reporter Ben Stuart contributed to this story.
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