Both the Nikiski and Seward nine-man football teams posted victories Saturday to set up a showdown Friday at Nikiski.
The visiting Bulldogs topped Eielson 32-26, while the host Seahawks took down Valdez 58-0. Both were Great Land Conference games.
Seward is now 1-0 in the league and 4-0 overall, while Nikiski is 1-0 and 3-1, Eielson is 0-1 and 1-3 and Valdez is 0-1 and 0-4.
The Seahawks and Bulldogs play at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Nikiski to see who will be all alone in first place. Seward topped Nikiski 38-14 earlier this season in a nonconference game.
Against Eielson, Oliver Parrish, Truit McCaughey and Ethan Ellis had rushing touchdowns, and Ellis threw a touchdown pass to Seth Payne.
“Overall, I thought we played all right, but had some costly mistakes that made the game interesting late,” Nikiski head coach Matt Trammell wrote in a text message.
On Seward, Trammell wrote: “They’ve been the measuring stick for our division this year. They’re a big, physical team and will be quite the test.”
Seward head coach Tyler Mallory said the Bulldogs have been a measuring stick for quite some time.
Mallory said he has been a coach at Seward seven years and only defeated Nikiski twice. Mallory is in his third year as head coach. He said he defeated the Bulldogs in his first year as head coach, and this season.
“Going into Nikiski is a hostile, rowdy environment,” Mallory said. “We know that and we’ve got to be ready to go play hard and beat them there.”
Mallory said defensive coordinator Cody Gilmore has been drawing up good schemes on defense, but the Seahawks will have to be ready for a hungry Bulldogs team. On offense, Mallory said Seward must protect the ball.
Against Valdez, Mallory said Seward scored on offense, defense and special teams. Hunter Forshee-Kurtz had the punt return for a score.
Mallory said he went to his young players midway through the second quarter, because Seward would go on to lead 52-0 at the half.
The coach said he was proud his young players didn’t give up a score, and he also liked the way the starters cheered for the young players.
Palmer 48, Homer 20
The Division II Moose handed the Division III Mariners a loss on their homecoming.
Homer is now 3-2 overall but on a two-game losing streak, while the Moose are 2-3 overall.
Homer head coach Justin Zank said his squad had a tough time stopping the run for a second straight week. The Mariners lost 29-8 to Kenai in Week 4.
“We did get a little better week to week, but we’re still not executing like we need to,” Zank said. “We’re still not playing assignment football.
“We do some good things at times, but there are a lot of things we need to clean up.”
Palmer, which led 21-8 at halftime and 41-20 after three quarters, rushed 54 times for 316 yards and also had 182 passing yards. Homer rushed for 67 yards and passed for 246.
Zank said the Moose were very technically sound and didn’t make many mistakes.
The Homer coach said his team was able to eliminate the turnovers that were a problem against Kenai, but the Mariners still put themselves in tough down-and-distance situations due to penalties. The Mariners did lose a fumble.
Zank did say running back Jake Tappan had his best game of the season, and also was solid at outside linebacker.
Tappan rushed five times for 66 yards and a score, and he also caught a touchdown pass from Preston Stanislaw, who was 13 of 23 for 246 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Chris Martishev also had a touchdown grab for Homer.
For Palmer, KJ Henry rushed 27 times for 204 yards and three touchdowns, while Corbin Gerkin had 16 rushes for 80 yards and two touchdowns.
Palmer quarterback Nolan Garner was 9 of 16 for 182 yards and scoring passes to Reed Craner and Logan Rolston.
Friday at 5 p.m., Homer hosts Houston in a rematch of the 2022 Division III state title game that Homer won. Both teams are 1-1 in the Mid Alaska Conference.
“If I was watching film on us, I would run right at us,” Zank said. “I’d run off tackle, I’d run lead and power. I’m sure we’ll see a lot of that.
“On defense, I know they’ll definitely bring the heat on every down.”
Moose 48, Mariners 20
Palmer 21 0 20 7 —48
Homer 8 0 12 0 —20
Pal — Gerkin 8 run (No. 15 kick).
Pal — Henry 3 run (No. 15 kick).
Hom — Tappan 48 run (Martin run).
Pal — Rolston 27 pass from Garner (No. 15 kick).
Pal — Henry 1 run (Lance kick).
Hom — Tappan 69 pass from Stanislaw.
Pal — Craner 25 pass from Garner (Lance kick).
Pal — Henry 7 run.
Hom — Martishev 56 pass from Stanislaw.
Pal — Gerkin 28 run (Lance kick).
First downs 28 9
Rushes-yards 54-316 17-67
Passing yards 182 246
Comp-att-int 9-16-0 13-23-0
Fumbles 0-0 1-1
Penalties 9-61 4-38
Rushing — Palmer: Henry 27-204, Gerkin 16-80, Garner 5-22, Gardino 1-8, Craner 1-6, Eichenlaub 1-2, Krukoff 3-(-6). Homer: Tappan 5-66, Martin 1-4, Stanislaw 11-(-3).
Passing — Palmer: Garner 9-16-0—182. Homer: Stanislaw 13-23-0-246.
Receiving — Palmer: Craner 4-94, Rolston 2-42, Bailey 1-21, Jorgensen 1-17, Gardino 1-8.