The matchups on the sideline may be just as interesting as the matchups on the field in tonight's football matchups on the central Kenai Peninsula.
In the games, Soldotna travels to Nikiski for a nonconference game at 6 p.m., while Kenai travels to Skyview for a Northern Lights Conference game at 6 p.m.
In both of those games, the coaching staffs will be familiar with each other.
In the Soldotna-Nikiski tilt, many of the coaches played for Valley City State's North Dakota Athletic Conference championship team in 1996. Valley City State is located in Valley City, N.D.
Soldotna coach Sarge Truesdell was a strong safety on that squad, while Soldotna defensive coordinator Jeff Baker played right tackle and Soldotna offensive coordinator Galen Brantley played right guard.
Nikiski coach Ned Clooten also was part of that offensive line with Baker and Brantley. Clooten played left tackle.
In addition, Soldotna graduate Micah Boudreau, the quarterback on the 1996 team for Valley City State, is expected to attend the game as a fan.
"First of all, we know he's a quality coach," Truesdell said of Clooten. "It's always nice to line up against somebody who's a quality person.
"But when you're buddies with that person, it provides extra motivation. If you're going to be talking football with him 365 days out of the year, it's nice to have a win on your side."
Since the game does not count in conference standings, Clooten said it's not a must-win for his side.
"It one of those games you circle on your calender and look forward to having some fun with," the coach said. "It's not going to have a bearing on the playoffs, but it's always fun to play against teammates."
In 1996, Valley City State ran a spread offense and a defense featuring four defensive lineman and three linebackers.
Neither Nikiski or Soldotna use any of those systems now, although both use the wing-T on offense.
The one Valley City carry-over that has Truesdell and Clooten talking is an extra-point kick formation designed by Valley City state coach Steve LeGrand.
The formation lends itself to an extremely successful fake, and Valley City State ran it to great success in 1996.
Nikiski has used the fake three times this year, and each time it has worked. Soldotna uses the formation, but as of yet has not tried the fake.
"Sarge was joking with me that we're going to have to spend time in practice preparing for our own fake field goal," Clooten said. "And we did. We spent 15 to 20 minutes in practice preparing for it."
While Truesdell would like to beat Clooten, he also would like to win to sustain the roll his team is on after a 50-0 thrashing of Skyview last week.
It was the first win of the year for the Stars, and they scored more points than they had in their previous three games combined.
Truesdell would like to see quarterback Cameron Schneider and the offensive line continue their rapid improvement against Nikiski.
On defense, Truesdell said the key will be to stop Nikiski running back Billy Anderson and Nikiski receiver Jeremiah Taylor. Anderson leads the peninsula with 591 yards on 77 carries, while Taylor is third on the peninsula with 10 catches for 151 yards.
Those two will be particularly important, because Nikiski lost quarterback Travis McGahan last week to a broken arm. Zack Womack will fill in for McGahan.
"Losing Travis is going to put a lot of pressure on Billy and Jeremiah," Clooten said. "I think we've got a good double threat with those two."
In the Kenai-Skyview game, Kenai Central head coach Jim Beeson and Skyview head coach Ty Salness also are familiar with each other. Salness was an assistant coach for Kenai the last two years.
Beeson said Salness is largely running his own systems at Skyview, which may give Skyview a slight advantage.
"He knows our system, and what we're doing, because we haven't changed," Beeson said. "But really, everybody knows what we're going to do. We just have to go out and do it."
The Kardinals will get the ball to Dakota Craig 25 to 30 times and mix in a pass by Cole Chappell from time to time. Kenai struggled a bit with that offense in the first half of a 44-0 victory at Kodiak last week in their NLC opener.
Meanwhile, Skyview had a tough time in a 50-0 loss to Soldotna in their NLC opener.
"We have to play better on offense early," Beeson said. "Everybody looks at Skyview and says, 'They lost to Soldotna 50-0.' But they weren't that bad in that game.
"Skyview's the type of team where if they have success early and get some confidence, they're going to be tough to play with."
Kodiak at Homer, Saturday, 2 p.m.
The Mariners will be looking for a win in their NLC opener against the Bears. Homer is coming off a victory over Sitka, while Kodiak is coming off a loss to Kenai.
Valdez at Seward, Saturday, 2 p.m.
The Seahawks will be looking to recover from a loss to Nikiski in this Great Land Conference game against Valdez. Valdez is 1-1 in the conference, while Seward is 1-2.
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