With their stunning opening week loss to West Anchorage fading in the rearview mirror, it didn’t take long for the Soldotna Stars to return to their old ways on the gridiron.
The Stars scored 42 first-quarter points en route to a crushing 66-19 nonconference victory over North Pole at SoHi’s Justin Maile Field, a satisfying way to get back on the horse after falling in week 1.
And, the baby Streak stands at 1.
“This feels good after West,” said junior running back Wyatt Medcoff. “After that, we just had to come out and play some football.”
Medcoff announced his arrival in his first full year on varsity with two touchdown runs against the Patriots and an early interception on defense. Medcoff was one of four SoHi players to come down with a pick on North Pole quarterback Chris Lovett, who faced pressure all game and was picked off five times by the opportunistic SoHi defense, including the game’s opening possession when a third-down lob landed in the hands of defensive back Cy Updike.
Updike finished with two interceptions, the first providing the first key swing in a game that went SoHi’s way all the time.
“The best cure for that knot in your stomach after losing is coming out and winning and executing,” said Soldotna head coach Galen Brantley Jr. “There is balance back in the universe.”
Colton Sorhus and Aiden Willets also collected an interception each for the SoHi defense. Overall, the SoHi defense forced six Patriot turnovers, as Galen Brantley III added a fumble recovery in the first quarter to go along with his two receiving touchdowns on offense.
Updike’s two-interception day on defense was complimented by a receiving touchdown on offense, a 39-yard bomb on the first play of SoHi’s final first-quarter possession, a scoring play that put the Stars up 42-0 with 16 seconds left in the quarter.
Brantley Jr. said the 42-point outburst was the biggest scoring binge in one quarter that he can remember at SoHi.
“The kids wanted to make a statement,” he said. “We got a lot of good play out of a lot of kids.”
The win followed up a season-opening loss for SoHi (1-1 overall), the program’s first varsity loss in 59 games dating back to August 2012. The 59 straight wins is a state record.
Across the nation, the longest active winning streak of 70 games was snapped when Fond du Lac (Wisconsin) beat in-state foe Kimberly as the nation’s two longest active football win streaks went down in consecutive weeks.
North Pole head coach Dennis Diviney, who spent one season at SoHi before taking the job in North Pole, said the team was expecting a tough battle from SoHi after last week’s stunning loss.
“We expect them to be SoHi,” Diviney said. “The players and Brantley are just amazing. The kids play very technical and sound football.”
Junior quarterback Jersey Truesdell enjoyed a much better day than last week, throwing three touchdown passes on four attempts for 96 yards.
Overall, SoHi bashed out 339 team rush yards, with sophomore Trenton O’Reagan ending the night with the most yardage at 71, most of that coming on a 65-yard scoring rumble in the third quarter.
Among starters, junior Aaron Faletoi rolled to 50 rush yards on four carries and a touchdown, junior Hudson Metcalf racked up 43 yards and a score, and junior Cam Johnson scored a touchdown with 64 yards.
The lopsided first half wrapped up with SoHi leading 60-6, which allowed a running clock in the second half and sophomore backup QB Tyler Johnson some varsity snaps under center. Johnson got in a touchdown run, but never attempted a pass. After Truesdell’s 35-yard scoring strike to Brantley III with 10:40 left in the second quarter put SoHi up 48-0, the Stars never made a pass attempt the rest of the way.
Updike’s opening drive interception set SoHi up for a seven-play scoring drive that was capped with a gutsy fourth-and-11 call that worked, as Truesdell found Brantley III streaking down the field for a 22-yard touchdown.
Three Patriots plays later, Medcoff took advantage of a Lovett mistake to grab the interception.
“(Lovett) was back pedaling and I saw pretty much right where he was throwing it,” Medcoff explained. “He threw it right to me.”
Medcoff returned the pick almost all the way back, but eventually had to settle for a one-yard plunge into the endzone for a 14-0 SoHi lead.
On Soldotna’s next possession, Faletoi took the first snap 26 yards for a nifty touchdown, juking and jiving between North Pole players to slink his way into the endzone for a 21-0 lead.
North Pole’s offense didn’t cross the midfield line until early in the second quarter, but by then, SoHi had taken a daunting 48-point lead. Three of the Patriots’ first five possessions ended in turnovers.
Eventually, North Pole began to find yards. Bradley Antesberger ended the day with 160 yards and two touchdown runs for the Patriots, as the former wrestling state champion used brute strength to punch his way through the defense.
STARS 66, PATRIOTS 19
North Pole 0 6 6 7 —19
Soldotna 42 18 6 0 —66
Sol — Brantley III 22 pass from Truesdell (Faletoi run), 7:57
Sol — Medcoff 1 run (kick failed), 5:42
Sol — Faletoi 26 run (Johnson kick), 3:42
Sol — Medcoff 16 run (Johnson kick), 2:25
Sol — Metcalf 23 run (Johnson kick), 2:09
Sol — Updike 39 pass from Truesdell (Johnson kick), :16
Sol — Brantley III 35 pass from Truesdell (kick failed), 10:40
Sol — C. Johnson 19 run (took knee), 7:56
NP — Lovett 22 pass from Garcia (kick failed), 7:27
Sol — T. Johnson 3 run (took knee), 2:44
Sol — O’Reagan 65 run (took knee), 6:08
NP — Antesberger 20 run (kick failed), 4:40
NP — Antesberger 37 run (Buma kick), 9:51
First Downs 7 8
Rushing yds 43-339 31-192
Pass yds 96 93
Comp-Att-Int 3-4-0 6-23-5
Return yds 2-48 12-132
Punts 0-0 2-38.0
Fumbles 0-0 3-1
Penalties 1-5 6-46
Rushing — Soldotna: O’Reagan 7-71, C. Johnson 3-64, Faletoi 4-50, Metcalf 2-43, Jaime 3-29, Updike 2-25, Medcoff 4-22, Sorhus 4-12, T. Johnson 9-12, Escott 5-11. North Pole: Antesberger 22-160, Berrellez 3-31, Edwin 1-4, Arnold 1-2, Lovett 4-(-5).
Passing — Soldotna: Truesdell 3-4-3—96. North Pole: Lovett 6-22-1—93, Antesberger 0-1-0—0.