Editor’s note: This article has been updated to correct the name of the school Homer played when they won the conference title, Joe Redington.
The Friday night lights shone a bit brighter than usual on the Homer Mariners this past week, as they celebrated both a win over the Head of the Bay Cougars and the recognition of their first ever Division III Peninsula Conference title.
The Homer varsity football team rolled over the Cougars, made up of students from Voznesenka, Razdolna and Kachemak-Selo, for a final score of 53-0. The victory brought their overall standings to 7-1, but the Mariners had already clinched the conference title with their win over Joe Redington Sr High School on Sept. 22.
The team was presented with a plaque officially recognizing the feat after Friday’s home game, and celebrated accordingly. Asked how he felt about guiding the players to become conference champs, first-year head coach Walter Love said he thought it was probably unexpected, and that not a lot of people had faith in the team at the season’s start. The players took the field Friday carrying a pirate flag for that reason, Love said.
“That’s amazing,” he said of the conference title. “It’s one of those things where we started preseason camp and it’s been an uphill battle for us the entire semester.”
In Friday’s game against the Cougars, the Mariners came out strong with 27 points in the first quarter alone. The first touchdown was run in by senior Justin Sumption, the second by senior Joe Ravin on a pass from senior Dawson Felde and the third by senior Sean Love after sophomore Noah Fisk intercepted a pass from the Cougars and the ball was dropped, leading to some confusion on the field before Love ran the ball for a 48-yard return.
Ravin scored the fourth touchdown of the first quarter for the Mariners after another completed pass from Felde.
The Mariners kept up the momentum throughout the game, and though the Cougars kept them to only one touchdown in the second and fourth quarters, and two in the third, they couldn’t keep up.
In all, the Cougars had 84 rushing yards to the Mariners’ 185, and 29 receiving yards to the Mariners’ 201.
Senior Cougars workhorse David Sanarov led the team’s defense by a wide margin with 10 tackles. Fisk was close behind for the Mariners with nine.
Friday’s game was the last of the season for the Cougars, and the very last game for the team’s three graduating seniors. The loss brought the team to 1-6 overall. For head coach Justin Zank, the season was, in a word, “disappointing.”
It was a season plagued by inconsistencies in terms of players showing up to practices and games. Every game saw a new rotation of players, Zank said, some missing from the previous game and some returning from an absence.
“I realize that we aim high considering our circumstances and everything, but this was the year that we had … experienced guys,” he said. “But then we just had a bunch of flakes this year.”
Heading into their first playoff game Oct. 7 against Ben Eielson Sr High School, the No. 2 seed from the Aurora Conference, Love said the Mariners will keep doing what they’ve been doing all season. They’ve already started reviewing tape and breaking it down, he said.
Of the team’s 10 senior players honored at halftime during a senior night presentation, Love said it’s easy to be proud of them. The hard work the team has put in shows on the field, he said.
“What can you say? We’ve been dinged up,” he said. “They finally learned how to play good football, and … it’s all credit to the boys and my assistant coaches. Without them, we wouldn’t be here, so I’m just happy to be standing here today with them.”