State championship opponents Kenai Central and Soldotna dominated the first teams in the 2009 Alaska Coaches Association Small Schools All State awards announced on Sunday.
The Kardinals defeated the Stars 21-10 for the small-schools state championship on Saturday. The only small school Kenai (10-1) lost to all year was Soldotna (8-3). The Stars lone loss to a small school this year came in the championship game.
Both Kenai and Soldotna claimed five of the 14 slots on offense. Eielson, Delta, Seward and Homer had one each. On defense, the Stars nabbed five of the 13 spots. Kenai had four, while Skyview, Nikiski, Eielson and Homer had one each.
The Kardinals, who won their fifth small-schools title, won two of the five major awards. Senior Donny Dormady was the state lineman of the year, while senior running back Billy Kiefer was named the offensive player of the year.
Kenai volunteer assistant Jim Beeson said Dormady, who was on the first team as a tackle and interior lineman, has had the goal of making offensive and defensive all-state teams since he was a freshman.
"He put in the time and effort in the weight room and going to camps," Beeson said. "This didn't happen overnight."
As gratifying as the awards are, Beeson said his senior was happier to win the state championship for the Kardinals, just like older brothers Michael and Kenny.
"He's had two older brothers that are always telling him how great it is to win a state championship," Beeson said. "It's satisfying for him to get the feeling for himself."
Kiefer, who made the first team as a running back and return specialist, was able to endure the pounding it took to be the state's leading rusher.
"If you'd see Billy walking around the halls, you'd never guess that he's one of our better football players," Beeson said. "He's not one of our bigger kids.
"Billy's the classic example of good things happening to good kids."
Braden Price, a Soldotna junior, is the defensive player of the year. He made the first team at running back and inside linebacker. Soldotna coach Galen Brantley Jr. said Price has led the team in tackles the past two years.
"He's been tremendous on the defensive side of the football," Brantley Jr. said. "He's been our best defender the past two years."
Homer's Camron Wyatt is the coach of the year after getting the first playoff victory in program history, then sticking with Soldotna for three quarters in the state semifinals.
"The best coaching jobs aren't always on the best teams," Brantley Jr. said. "My best coaching job came on a team that finished 5-3."
Nikiski's Tim Johnson is the assistant coach of the year. The award is a big honor in the small schools due to the loaded coaching staffs at peninsula schools. Beeson has won four state titles, Nikiski assistant Scott Anderson has won two and Soldotna assistant Sarge Truesdell has won one. Then there's Kenai assistant Jim Dawson, a peninsula football fixture for over 20 years.
"He's done it for 16 years as a volunteer," Nikiski coach Ted Riddall said of Johnson. "He does the offensive and defensive lines, and I think he's the best line coach in the state of Alaska.
"In order to spend that much time on something and not get paid, it's something that you definitely need a strong connection to."
Others getting two first-team mentions were Eielson's Charles King, Kenai's Kyle Rogers and Soldotna's Nathan Strieby and Chase Jenson.
Rogers, a junior, made it at guard and inside linebacker. He started as a freshman before missing most of last year due to disciplinary issues. He came on strong at the end of this year, having great games in the semifinals against Kodiak and finals against SoHi.
Against Soldotna, Beeson said Rogers was responsible for stopping the trap. He said Rogers did as good of a job as anyone stopping that play in Brantley Jr.'s three years at the helm.
"He came in with a lot of tools," Beeson said. "He had a body and he's learning to use that body. He's also fairly athletic." Strieby is first team at tackle and interior lineman, while Jenson is first team at guard and interior lineman.
"Both of those kids are very dedicated," Brantley Jr. said of the seniors. "Both saw varsity time as sophomores. Both got into the weight room and are capable guys who did everything we asked them to do. They're very capable of playing at the next level."
Kenai also got first-team nods for quarterback AJ Hull, outside linebacker Nick Rouswell and interior lineman Richie Ziehmer. Soldotna's additional first-teamers are fullback Chris Nolden, long snapper Tyler McGillivary, interior lineman DJ Stilchen and utility player Tate Syverson.
Nikiski, which finished second in the Greatland Conference, was represented on the first team by defensive back Brando Wik. Riddall was not happy that senior Jordan Harrison missed the first team at inside linebacker. Harrison was the Greatland's defensive player of the year.
The voting was done at 8 a.m. on Sunday in Anchorage. Five of the six coaches from the Northern Lights Conference showed up, while only three of seven made an appearance from the Greatland. Riddall was not happy that the coaches that voted Harrison the defensive player of the year were not fully represented at the all-state meeting. Harrison, who made the second team, made 101 tackles this season.
The Greatland coaches, in general, face a longer trip to Anchorage than NLC coaches. Coaches cannot vote by phone.
"Without everybody voting, it's really not actually an all-state team," Riddall said. "Something needs to be changed."
Beeson and Brantley Jr. said they sympathized with Riddall. Both said they have left the voting multiple times feeling a player of theirs was robbed. At the same time, both stood behind Price and Rogers as the first-team selections at inside linebacker.
Beeson and Brantley Jr. also said they are fine with the process used to select the all-state teams. Beeson did say if Riddall wanted to use a different procedure, the Nikiski coach could write it up and the coaches would be happy to consider it.
Homer's Mark Walsworth, a kicker, and Cole Jacobsen, a defensive back, earned first-team nods. Seward is represented on the first team by center Caleb Cinereski.
2009 Alaska Coaches Association Small Schools All State
State lineman of the year -- Donny Dormady, Kenai Central
Offensive player of the year -- Billy Kiefer, Kenai Central
Defensive player of the year -- Braden Price, Soldotna
Coach of the year -- Cameron Wyatt, Homer
Assistant coach of the year -- Tim Johnson, Nikiski
Punter -- Vlad Ferderer, Skyview
Defensive backs -- Cole Jacobsen, Homer; Brando Wik, Nikiski; Charles King, Eielson
Outside linebacker -- Nick Rouswell, Kenai; Chase Jenson, Soldotna
Inside linebacker -- Braden Price, Soldotna; Kyle Rogers, Kenai
Interior lineman -- Donny Dormady, Kenai; Nathan Strieby, Soldotna; DJ Stilchen, Soldotna; Richie Ziehmer, Kenai
Utility player -- Tate Syverson, Soldotna
Punter -- Brando Wik, Nikiski
Defensive backs -- Billy Kiefer, Kenai; Justin Hjelm, Delta; Dylon Story, Soldotna
Outside linebacker -- Bob Seater, Nikiski; Anthony Edwards, Barrow
Inside linebacker -- Nick Gavora, Monroe; Jordan Harrison, Nikiski
Interior lineman -- Tyler Peek, Nikiski; Victor Unutoa, Barrow; James Duncan, Monroe; Caleb Cinereski, Seward
Utility player -- Matt Parker, Nikiski
Quarterback -- AJ Hull, Kenai
Fullback -- Chris Nolden, Soldotna
Running back -- Braden Price, Soldotna; Billy Kiefer, Kenai
Wide receiver -- Charles King, Eielson
Tight end -- Josh Bialik, Delta
Center -- Caleb Cinerski, Seward
Guard -- Chase Jenson, Soldotna; Donny Dormady, Kenai
Tackle -- Nathan Strieby, Soldotna; Donny Dormady, Kenai
Kicker -- Mark Walsworth, Homer
Long snapper -- Tyler McGillivary, Soldotna
Return specialist -- Billy Kiefer, Kenai
Quarterback -- Albert Gerke, Barrow
Fullback -- Stephen Krogseng, Nikiski
Running back -- Jacob Sprankle, Eielson; Anthony Edwards, Barrow
Wide receiver -- Bryson Lowe, Kenai
Tight end -- Garrett Bosick, Soldotna
Center -- Braden Lichty, Soldotna
Guard -- Joe Biggane, Eielson; Jordan Harrison, Nikiski
Tackle -- William Cullen, Valdez; Alistar Dunbar, Barrow
Kicker -- Sara Colvin, Eielson
Long snapper -- Colton Anderson, Nikiski
Return specialist -- Brian Schmidt, Seward
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