The Homer football team fell to the Soldotna Stars 61-14 on homecoming night.
The Stars had been scheduled to play Kenai last weekend, but the game was canceled when several Kenai players came down with non-COVID-19 illnesses. Soldotna wasted no time in charging to a third straight win on Saturday during Homer’s homecoming game.
The win took the Stars to 3-0, while Homer dropped to 3-2. The team’s two losses have both been to Soldotna.
For SoHi, Josh Heiber scored two touchdowns on runs runs of 10 yard and 50 yards. He also had a touchdown scored on a 90-yard kickoff return. In total, Heiber rushed five times for 101 yards.
Soldotna quarterback Brock Wilson threw a 47-yard score to Josh Pieh early in the second quarter, and Wilson also scored a touchdown himself later that quarter. Wilson was 4 for 5 for 134 yards in the air.
Austin Escott, Dennis Taylor, Hunter Richardson and Braden Taylor also scored touchdowns. Taylor’s was the last touchdown of the game with less than a minute left in the fourth quarter, and he scored on a 35-yard interception return. Dennis Taylor rushed six times for a total of 125 yards. He had six tackles and an interception.
For Homer, quarterback Carter Tennison scored two touchdowns, one in the first quarter on a 40-yard run, and one in the fourth on an 8-yard run. In total he had 21 carries for 103 yards. Tennison was 12 of 23 for 110 yards through the air and had two interceptions.
For the Homer defense, Josh Manwiller led the way with nine tackles. He also blocked an extra point attempt by the Stars.
This was Homer’s homecoming game. At half time, the homecoming king and queen were recognized along with the homecoming royalty from the other grades. Representing the ninth grade were William Bradshaw and Sydney Shelby, Mylan Johnson and Leah Evans represented the sophomores, and Kamdyn Doughty, Gracie Gummer and Neviya Reed were honored for the junior class. Seniors Clayton Beachy and Mary Black were crowned this year’s homecoming king and queen.
Of the win, Soldotna head coach Galen Brantley Jr. said he thought the Stars had improved considerably since their first game of the season, also against Homer.
“I think there’s a lot of inexperience still,” he said.
Soldotna graduated 22 starters from the team last year, and none of this year’s players were starters last year.
“And so there’s still a level of football IQ that need to be developed through experience, and we just haven’t been getting that throughout the year,” Brantley said.
Brantley said the effort from the Stars is always there, though.
“As coaches we always appreciate their effort, and that’s probably the biggest compliment they can give us,” he said.
Brantley also credited Homer’s program for getting stronger.
“They’re going to be a force to be reckoned with in the next couple of years,” he said.
Unlike Soldotna, the Mariners have been able to hit the field in more games so far this season. The southern Kenai Peninsula has remained in the low-risk category for community spread of COVID-19 since schools opened this fall. That means its sports programs have been able to carry on with mitigation measures, unlike the central peninsula sports teams which had to shut down momentarily earlier this year when COVID-19 spread got too high in that region.
Head Homer coach Justin Zank said the Mariners were able to do some good things in the first quarter, but they weren’t able to hold onto that momentum.
“I’m disappointed in our execution, or lack thereof,” Zank said of the outcome. “… We didn’t rise to the challenge as I hoped we would have.”
He said the team had “flashes” of good moments during the game.
“We’re doing a lot of good things on offense and defense, we’ve just got to figure out now moving forward how to put them all together and have a complete game,” Zank said.
With a bye week ahead of the Mariners, Zank said there’s time for them to brush up on some things. Homer was scheduled to host a playoff game, and play in it, on Saturday, Oct. 17. However, Homer High School Principal Douglas Waclawski announced on Facebook on Tuesday night that the entire football program is now under quarantine through Oct. 17, after a positive COVID-19 was identified in a member of the program.
On Friday, Homer High School announced on its Facebook Page that the ASAA has moved the playoff game to Monday, Oct. 19. Both the time and the location are to be announced, according to the post.
Stars 61, Mariners 14
Soldotna — 21, 13, 14, 13
Homer — 6, 0, 0, 8
Soldotna — Heiber 10-yard run (O’Reagan kick), 9:44.
Homer — Tennison 40-yard run (run failed), 5:50.
Soldotna — Heiber 90-yard kickoff return (run failed), 5:35.
Soldotna — Pieh 47-yard pass from Wilson (conversion Wilson to Pieh), 2:05.
Soldotna — Heiber 50-yard run (kick blocked), 10:21.
Soldotna — Wilson 6-yard run (O’Reagan kick), 8:22.
Soldotna — Escott 1-yard run (O’Reagan kick), 10:36.
Soldotna — Taylor 36-yard run (O’Reagan kick), 1:17.
Homer — Tennison 8-yard run (Tennison run), 9:59.
Soldotna — Richardson 22-yard run (Buckbee kick), 1:52.
Soldotna — Taylor 35-yard interception return (kick failed), 0:52.
Reach Megan Pacer at firstname.lastname@example.org.