With the volume of the cheers from the blue-and-gold clad fans, it wasn’t necessary to be at Saturday’s homecoming game to know the Mariners had beat the Houston Hawks. Being there made the 17-6 victory even better, however.
“Lots of fans in the stands always makes for a great atmosphere,” said Mariner Head Coach Josh Fraley.
“And the team wanted to finish strong. It was important for the entire team, especially the seniors, to finish the way they did. They were happy for that.”
The first quarter, the Mariners focused on establishing a tempo for the game, something they struggled with in recent match-ups.
“When you establish a good running game and get the linemen blocking correctly and everybody running hard and a rhythm going, it makes things so much easier,” said Fraley.
Once that was done, the Mariners “were able to move the ball down the field pretty easily.”
The Mariners defense also rose to the occasion, “playing great and getting us the ball back,” said Fraley.
The game was not without its challenges, however, with penalty problems slowing down the forward-motion Fraley was hoping to establish.
“A lot of them were our guys just playing tired and trying to hold people instead of getting into good position and blocking correctly,” said Fraley.
“There were a couple of really silly penalties. That kind of stuff is hard to keep a momentum going.”
The penalties also took their toll on running back Josh Fisk, “who was running his butt off and had several that got called back. He was getting frustrated.”
The shift away from Fraley’s game plan meant relying on senior quarterback Sheldon Hutt to throw the ball.
“We had to get out of the game plan we had established and that made the game go slower,” said Fraley. “But (Hutt) played really, really well, especially with the duress he was under.”
Less than halfway through the first quarter, Hutt made a touchdown pass to Teddy Croft. That, followed by a two-point conversion, put Homer ahead, 8-0.
In the second quarter Connor Seay gave the Mariners a field goal and an 11-0 lead by halftime.
Back on the field, Seay scored the second touchdown of the game for the Mariners.
“That gave a cushion I could feel comfortable enough that if we took a chance here or there defensively or offensively, we’d still be up a score,” said Fraley.
Finally, more than halfway through the third quarter, the Hawks scored their one and only touchdown, giving the game its final score of 17-6.
“It was a hard-fought game. Houston played great. They’ve had a tough season and hats off to them,” said Fraley.
In addition to Saturday’s game being the final one of the high school football season, it also was the last high school game for the team’s 10 seniors: Eric Hill, Sheldon Hutt, Ben Knisley, Isaia Kuzmin, Ulian Kuzmin, Ian Lowe, Collin MacCampbell, Patrick Rainwater, Julian Richburg and Connor Seay, as well as Head Manager Sakota Mitchell.
“We have great kids. I’m just real proud of them the way they finished,” said Fraley.
Next up for several of the seniors is an opportunity to participate in a program offered by the Shriners in Anchorage that brings together high school seniors in small and medium schools from around the state, with seniors from large schools in a separate bracket, to play in a game before college coaches on Nov. 1.
“We’re really excited about that,” said Fraley.
“There are probably five or six of our guys going, so we’re looking forward to finishing with that and having a lot of fun. … It’s a pretty awesome experience.”
The hole that 10 graduating seniors will create in next year’s lineup is a concern to Fraley.
“We’re really hoping to get some more of these boys that are in the community and get them involved in the program. Let them see how fun it is. I hope they saw some of that this year with the games in the new facility and the atmosphere we built this year,” said Fraley.
“We’ve got a good crew of juniors coming back with Fisk and (Michael) Swoboda. Good receivers. Good talent. We’re just hoping to get some more out and start building the team.”
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2014 Homer High School Homecoming Royalty
Lord Ben Kettle and Lady Mia Alexson
Duke Timmy Woo and Duchess Remedy Moskios
Prince Les Crane and Princess Laurel Johnson
King Brandon Beachy and Queen Aspen Daigle
2014 Homecoming Parade Awards
Sharon Thompson, Anita Harry, Bill Bell,
Rep. Paul Seaton, Pam Rugloski
Paul Banks Elementary
Most Enthusiastic Honorable Mention:
Homer Middle School for the “Husky Howl”
Sophomore class, Kenny Cortez, class president
Blue and Gold Award:
Freshman class, Mia Alexson, class president
Best Themed Float:
Senior class, Larsen Fellows, class president
Mariner Pride (Best in Show):