A warm sun made for good picnic weather Saturday, but it was no picnic on the Homer High School football field as the Mariners took on the Ketchikan Kings. The Kings returned to Southeast with 23-22 victory.
The loss for Homer comes after two consecutive victories, a 30-12 win over the Barrow Whalers and a 55-0 shutout of the Valdez Buccaneers.
“It was tough,” said Mariner Head Coach Josh Fraley of Saturday’s loss. “Ketchikan played real well. They came out with a good game plan and ran some stuff that most people don’t run. … It just took some time to adjust and finally be able to get that under control. It kind of took us out of our game plan defensively.”
The Mariners were the first on the scoreboard when a touchdown by Michael Swoboda in the first quarter and a run by Josh Fisk gave Homer an 8-0 lead. In the second quarter, Homer’s advantage grew to 14-0 on a touchdown by Fisk, but Homer failed to make the two-point conversion.
Before halftime, the Kings brought the score to 14-8 and in the third quarter pushed it to a 16-14 lead.
In the fourth quarter, with 10:25 left in the game, Ketchikan widened the divide to 23-14. With the clock at 2:50 minutes remaining and Homer fans cheering, the Mariners answered with a touchdown by Zach McKenna and a two-point conversion run by Eric Hill and a final game score of 23-22.
“It was kind of the same song and dance as our other losses,” said Fraley. “We just turned the ball over too much. We gave them opportunities. Not just extra opportunities, but opportunities in our zone.”
It also was a tough game in terms of injuries. After suffering a hit to the back of the neck, Fisk was taken out of the game. However, later testing showed it was not a concussion. Not so for Swoboda, however, who was diagnosed with a concussion that may keep him off the field for the next couple of weeks.
“Everyone else is returning, but we had lots of bumps and bruises and maybe a couple twists and sprains,” said Fraley.
On Saturday, the Mariners take on the undefeated SoHi Stars in Homer. Fraley said he anticipates it will be “another hard-hitting game. A lot like this weekend.”
In addition to focusing on the Mariners’ offense and eliminating turnovers, Fraley hopes to see the stands filled with Mariner fans.
“It’s going to be a battle. It always is against Soldotna and they’ll bring their fans as well. So it would be great to get Homer people behind the team. That always helps,” he said.
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinskyA@homernews.com.