The Soldotna football team received six of 14 first team offense slots, five of 13 first team defense slots and two of the five major awards in Alaska Coaches Association Small Schools All State voting announced on Sunday.
Believe it or not, that may have been the least dominating performance by the team did all year.
SoHi capped a 10-0 season by winning its second straight small-schools football championship. The Stars stopped Kodiak 47-27 in the state championship on Oct. 13 to top a season in which they won each game by an average score of 54.3-13.2. That average score includes a 47-14 victory in the second week of the season over Palmer, which lost 23-13 in the large-schools title game on Saturday.
Soldotna's major awards came from Lineman of the Year Josh Denna and Defensive Player of the Year Timo Gleason.
Denna made the first team at offensive tackle and defensive interior lineman. He spearheaded a dominant offensive line which saw the Stars rush for 3,096 yards during the regular season.
"I think that Josh established himself as one of the premier linemen in the state of Alaska throughout the course of the season," Soldotna coach Galen Brantley Jr. said. "It's pretty special to be recognized by coaches as a first team player on both sides of the ball.
"He paved the way for the backs to have the success they had this season."
Gleason was the point man on defense. He was named to the first team on defense at inside linebacker. The Stars allowed just 1,439 yards on defense in the regular season. Brantley Jr. said they were the No. 1 defense in the state.
"He was our defensive captain. He took all the signals from the sideline," Brantley Jr. said. "He was our emotional leader on defense."
Other major award winners were Offensive Player of the Year Bill Chimphalee of Kenai Central, Coach of the Year Lea Cockerham of Valdez and Assistant Coach of the Year Bill Hancock of Skyview.
Chimphalee was first team at running back and defensive back. He rushed for 2,023 yards and 31 touchdowns, averaging 9.4 yards per carry.
"I think people around the state recognized that he had fairly impressive numbers," Kenai coach Jim Beeson said. "Second of all, people knew what we were going to do and they still couldn't stop him."
Cockerham took Valdez to the playoffs for the first time in school history in the fifth year of the program. He was the head coach when the program started, but then took a few years off from building the program while he was serving the country as a Marine in Iraq. Last year, the squad won a program-high three games, and this year the Buccaneers finished with a 5-4 record.
Skyview coach Jerry Byrne said Hancock received his award because of the Panthers' defense. The unit finished second on the peninsula, allowing 1,705 yards.
"Considering the size of the kids we had, we were pretty decent," Byrne said of his defense. "When we were playing Wasilla, we were down 10-0 at half before they wore us down."
Denna wasn't the only Stars player to appear on the first team on both sides of the ball. Anthony Griglione made the first team at quarterback and defensive back, Marvin Tate made the first team at fullback and outside linebacker and Bryce Gardner made the first team at return specialist and defensive back.
Griglione, a junior, is now 18-0 as a starting quarterback. He passed for 461 yards and seven touchdowns during the regular season and ran for 952 yards and 16 touchdowns.
"I think the thing the stands out the biggest is he is 18-0 as a starting quarterback," Brantley Jr. said. "He finds a way to win."
Tate had 740 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns during the regular season.
The backs owe some of their success to first team center Les Baker and first team guard Josh DeTavernier. The duo was part of a unit so dominant that it may have hurt Gardner, a second team running back despite 840 yards and 14 touchdowns rushing and 203 yards and three touchdowns receiving in the regular season.
The other first team running back was Chance Renfro of Eielson.
"People were so impressed with the line, some backs didn't get the credit they deserved," Brantley Jr. said. "Bryce averaged 14 yards a touch, and it wasn't all because he was behind a huge offensive line. Breaking down the film, Bryce created things on his own and ran hard."
The Panthers were able to lock up three spots on first team offense. Richie Shirnberg made it as a long snapper and tight end, while Patrick Sheridan made it as a guard.
"Our better plays came because those kids were involved in the blocking scheme," Byrne said. "They were consistent, and other coaches saw that."
Kenai also received first team appearances from Jaron Dambacher at inside linebacker and Travis Pierce at interior lineman.
"Those two are quality kids who go to camps and get in the weight room in the offseason," Beeson said. "It's good to see them get recognized. It reaffirms what they are doing."
Nikiski received a first team appearance at receiver by Evan Holloway, who caught 27 balls for 522 yards and four touchdowns. Also for the Bulldogs, Beau Calderwood made the second team at running back and defensive back, Hunter Gallien made the second team at center and interior lineman, and Elliot Tuttle made the second team at guard and long snapper.
For Homer, Matt Walsworth was a first team kicker, Corey Sutherland was a first team defensive utility player and Brady Quinn was a second team punter. For Seward, Dylan Beck was a first team punter, second team kicker and second team defensive back.
The one obvious absence from the all-state team was Soldotna senior Ryan Shelton, who was named the Northern Lights Conference co-Lineman of the Year last weekend. Brantley Jr. said he had no comment on Shelton's absence from the all-state team.
2007 Alaska Coaches Association Small-Schools All-State
State lineman of the year: Josh Denna, Soldotna.
Offensive players of the year: Bill Chimphalee, Kenai Central.
Defensive players of the year: Timo Gleason, Soldotna.
Coach of the year: Lea Cockerham, Valdez.
Assistant coach of the year: Bill Hancock, Skyview.
Quarterback Anthony Griglione, Soldotna.
Fullback Marvin Tate, Soldotna.
Running back Bill Chimphalee, Kenai Central; Chance Renfro, Eielson.
Wide receiver Evan Holloway, Nikiski.
Tight end Richie Shirnberg, Skyview.
Center Les Baker, Soldotna.
Guard Josh DeTavernier, Soldotna; Patrick Sheridan, Skyview.
Tackle Josh Denna, Soldotna; Mike Brown, Eielson.
Kicker Matt Walsworth, Homer.
Long snapper Richie Shirnberg, Skyview.
Return specialist Bryce Gardner, Soldotna.
Quarterback Adam Failing, Valdez.
Fullback Israel Morales, Houston.
Running back Bryce Gardner, Soldotna; Beau Calderwood, Nikiski.
Wide receiver Jon Bryant, Kodiak.
Tight end Kevin Barnicle, Eielson.
Center Hunter Gallien, Nikiski.
Guard Josh Saylors, Valdez; Elliot Tuttle, Nikiski.
Tackle Garrett Mooney, Houston.
Kicker Dylan Beck, Seward.
Long snapper Elliot Tuttle, Nikiski.
Return specialist Cody Hedberg, Valdez.
Punter Dylan Beck, Seward.
Defensive backs Bryce Gardner, Soldotna; Bill Chimphalee, Kenai Central; Anthony Griglione, Soldotna.
Outside linebacker Randy Diocares, Kodiak; Marvin Tate, Soldotna.
Inside linebacker Timo Gleason, Soldotna; Jaron Dambacher, Kenai Central.
Interior lineman Mike Brown, Eielson; Nate Rogers, Valdez; Josh Denna, Soldotna; Travis Pierce, Kenai.
Utility player Corey Sutherland, Homer.
Punter Brady Quinn, Homer.
Defensive backs Dylan Beck, Seward; Beau Calderwood, Nikiski; James Rogers, Valdez.
Outside linebackers Chance Renfro, Eielson; Parker Hutchison, Valdez.
Inside linebackers Israel Morales, Houston; Dwayne Fearon, Eielson.
Interior lineman James Steed, Houston; Hunter Gallien, Nikiski; Josh Bailor, Kodiak.
Utility player Cody Hedberg, Valdez.
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