For the second straight week, Soldotna turned a big game into a blowout.
A week after walking all over Kenai Central in the Northern Lights Conference championship, the Stars opened up the playoffs by trouncing Thunder Mountain 55-20.
The Falcons, in their second year as a program, are the champions of the Southeast Conference. Like Soldotna, Thunder Mountain came into the game undefeated.
"Athletically, they're a very good football team," Soldotna coach Galen Brantley Jr. said. "Our kids had a lot of respect for them.
"It's hard to explain it. Our kids just showed up to play today."
The Falcons got off to a bad start and never recovered. Thunder Mountain went three-and-out on the game's first drive, then a poor punt set up Soldotna at the Thunder Mountain 35.
Auston Tennis then scored the first of his four touchdowns to stake Soldotna to an early lead. Tennis ran for 129 yards in the game as Soldotna ran for 359 to Thunder Mountain's 124.
The Stars again started their next drive in great field position.
"Field position is huge in a game like this," Brantley Jr. said. "We did a great job with our kicking game pinning them deep.
"When you're starting inside their 50, you have four downs to make 10 yards instead of just three."
Robbie Smithwick ripped off a 37-yard scoring run to put Soldotna up 14-0 with 3:02 left in the first quarter.
On the next drive, Falcons star running back Cameron Fronimos fumbled and Tyler Marcuson recovered on the Thunder Mountain 27.
Thunder Mountain fumbled five times in the game, losing two, while Soldotna fumbled twice, losing one. Thunder Mountain quarterback Camden Thomas also had three interceptions in the rain-soaked game.
"Ball security was huge," Brantley Jr. said.
SoHi took advantage of the turnover when Tennis scored on a 27-yard run with 2:36 left in the first quarter. Like Soldotna backs did all day, Tennis broke tackles as the line of scrimmage before breaking off a big run.
"I've never been much for dancers," Brantley Jr. said of his backs. "I like north-south runners."
In the second quarter, Thunder Mountain's Brad Soneson had a 49-yard touchdown catch, but Tennis and Jared Duncan, who rushed for 120 yards, had scoring runs for Soldotna and Garrett Bosick had a touchdown catch.
The long Falcons' pass was the one defensive slip in the first half for the Stars. Brantley Jr. said defensive coordinator James Knoebel did a great job of working up a scheme. The Falcons had 124 yards on the ground and 231 through the air.
In the second half, Tennis and Duncan had scoring runs while Fronimos scored on a run and Donald Stokes scored on a pass.
"It was just a really good team effort," Brantley Jr. said.
Stars 55, Falcons 20
Soldotna 21 21 6 7 --55
Thunder Mtn. 0 6 6 8 --20
Sol -- Tennis 4 run (Koch kick)
Sol -- Smithwick 35 run (Koch kick)
Sol -- Tennis 27 run (Koch kick)
Sol -- Tennis 26 run (Koch kick)
TM -- Soneson 49 pass from Thomas (pass failed)
Sol -- Duncan 3 run (Koch kick)
Sol -- Bosick 15 pass from T. Fowler (Koch kick)
Sol -- Tennis 1 run (kick failed)
TM -- Stokes 26 pass from Thomas (conversion failed)
TM -- Fronimos 5 run (conversion good)
Sol -- Duncan 15 run (Koch kick)
First downs 16 8
Rushing yards 57-359 29-124
Comp-Att-Int 1-5-0 11-30-3
Passing yards 15 231
Fumbles-lost 2-1 5-2
Penalties 13-105 11-85
Punts-avg 1-40.0 2-25.0
Rushing -- Soldotna: Tennis 15-129, Duncan 24-120, Smithwick 7-62, Bennett 6-30, Schmelzenbach 5-18. TM: Fronimos 15-83, Hotch 3-30, Conrad 7-22, McMichael 1-4, Thomas 3-(-15).
Passing -- Soldotna: Fowler 1-4-0--15; Smithwick 0-1-0--0. TM: Thomas 10-25-3--218, Fronimos 1-4-0--13.
Receving -- Soldotna: Bosick 1-15. TM: Stokes 7-133, Soneson 2-77, Conrad 2-21.
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