Make it 13-1.
Soldotna continued its football dominance in its 14-year series with crosstown rival Skyview Friday, pounding the Panthers 50-0 in a Northern Lights Conference tilt at Justin Maile Field.
The Panthers, under first-year coach Ty Salness, are in a rebuilding mode. They have just one returning starter back this year and fall to 1-3 overall and 0-1 in the conference with the loss.
The Stars, meanwhile, have a number of players who have played pivotal roles in three straight conference titles. Soldotna also is 1-3 overall, but is now 1-0 in the conference.
"We have guys who have won conference championships and played in state championship games over the last two or three years," Soldotna coach Sarge Truesdell said. "Those guys went out and got it done tonight."
Soldotna's experience dominated every facet of the game. Behind 128 yards from senior Dan Ghormley and 118 yards from junior Garrett Gardner, the Stars piled up 375 yards on the ground to Skyview's 55.
"Our line really played well tonight," Ghormley said. "Ninety-nine percent of the time, I was running through holes you could have driven a Mack truck through."
The Stars also came out ahead in the all-important turnover column. The Panthers lost one fumble, and senior quarterback Kaleb Shields threw three interceptions, one of which Soldotna junior Ben Breakfield returned 50 yards for a score. Soldotna did not turn the ball over once.
Finally, Soldotna came up with big plays on special teams. Senior Eric Simpson returned the opening kickoff of the second half 55 yards for a touchdown, while the Stars blocked one Skyview punt and recovered a bad snap on another punt.
The Skyview offense showed signs of life early in the game, advancing inside Soldotna's 20-yard line on two of its first four drives. But both times, the Panthers came away empty-handed.
"We just couldn't sustain drives," Salness said. "Give Soldotna credit. They're a well-coached team."
Truesdell said those early stops gave Soldotna momentum.
"It's kind of a bend-but-don't-break philosophy on defense," he said. "(Defensive) coach Jeff Baker deserves a lot of the credit. He must have called blitzes right where they were running their plays 10 or 12 times tonight. That shows he's watching a lot of film."
While the defense was containing the Panthers, the offense, behind touchdowns from Neil Gardner, Ghormley and Garrett Gardner, scored on three of its first four drives to stake the Stars to a 20-0 halftime lead.
But at halftime, the game didn't feel like a rout because Skyview had moved the ball in the first half, with Shields passing for 120 yards and the ground game picking up 63.
With the first play of the second half, though, the rout was on. Skyview tried an onside kick, but the ball went right to Simpson. He picked it out of the air and ran up the sideline to pay dirt.
"We had their films, and I think they'd tried an onside kick in all three of their previous games," Truesdell said. "So we had our skills-position kids in the front line and we were expecting it. We didn't expect to return it for a touchdown, though."
The third quarter wouldn't get any better for the Panthers. Skyview had minus 17 yards of offense for the quarter, while Soldotna had 100 yards. Ghormley ran for a touchdown and Cameron Schneider hit Cory Wilbanks for a touchdown to give the Stars a 41-0 lead at the end of the quarter.
In the final quarter, Soldotna tacked on a safety and Breakfield's interception return to hit the half-century mark.
Truesdell lauded the solid play of sophomore Jacob Howarth at linebacker, and also credited Schneider with continued improvement at quarterback. Schneider was 6-of-9 for 74 yards and no interceptions.
Salness said he liked the improvement his defense showed in the second half. He also saw some good things in the passing game, where Shields threw for 161 yards and Nathan Schmidt caught four balls for 83 yards.
Stars 50, Panthers 0
Skyview 0 0 0 0 0
Soldotna 13 7 21 9 50
Sol N. Gardner 39 run (kick failed), 6:22
Sol Ghormley 2 run (Tachick kick), 0:18
Sol G. Gardner 40 run (Tachick kick), 2:47
Sol Simpson 55 kickoff return (Tachick kick), 11:55
Sol Wilbanks 8 pass from Schneider (Tachick kick), 3:37
Sol Ghormley 53 run (Tachick kick), 1:37
Sol Safety, running back tackled in end zone
Sol Breakfield 50 interception return (Tachick kick), 0:24
First downs 11 13
Rushes-yards 41-55 51-375
Passing yards 161 74
Return yards 0 80
Passing 9-30-3 6-9-0
Punts-avg 6-17.2 2-37
Fumbles-lost 3-1 0-0
Penalties-yards 3-25 7-60
Rushing Skyview: A. Smith 1-(-2), Li. Lavea 2-8, Cleveland 7-14, McKay 17-36, Shields 5-4, Williams 1-0, Rowell 4-(-1), Bellinger 3-13, Carlon 1-(-17). Soldotna: Ghormley 13-128, G. Gardner 8-118, N. Gardner 10-65, Cameron 12-58, Schneider 2-8, B. Goracke 4-1, J. Goracke 1-0, Foster 1-(-3).
Passing Skyview: Shields 9-30-3-161. Soldotna: Schneider 6-9-0-74.
Receiving Skyview: Rowell 1-37, Schmidt 4-83, Derkevorkian 4-41. Soldotna: Wilbanks 1-8, G. Gardner 1-12, Simpson 1-28, N. Gardner 2-15, Mills 1-11.
Missed field goals Mills (WL), Mills (WL).
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