The Seward football team captured its first ever conference season crown Saturday with a 22-8 victory over Nikiski in the regular season finale in Seward.
The Seahawks were co-champions of the former Greatland Conference in 2001 with Nikiski, so Saturday’s title is the first outright championship for Seward in the Peninsula Conference. Seward finished with a sparkling 4-0 conference record (5-3 overall), while Nikiski finished 3-1 (4-4).
“It was big,” said Seward coach Kelly Cinereski. “Nikiski was very good, they played a tough game, but our boys fought hard.”
The victory proved to be especially crucial, as Seward will get to host next week’s semifinal playoff game at home against Houston, the No. 2 seed from the Aurora Conference.
Nikiski, meanwhile, will have to make the long bus ride north to play Eielson in Fairbanks, a team that defeated the Bulldogs 58-14 last week. Eielson is the two-time defending small-schools state champions.
“We’d much rather have Houston than Eielson,” Cinereski said. “But, I don’t know, we haven’t seen Houston play much either.”
Nikiski’s only score came on a fake punt attempt, while Seward got scoring plays from Rhett Seiverts, Nik Woodard, Michael Wilps and a two-point play from quarterback Nik Pahno.
Cinereski praised his defense, which held tough on several Nikiski drives, shutting out the Bulldogs late in the game.
“It was a hard-fought team win, all the way around,” he said. “It’s two times we’re in the playoffs in the last three years, so we’re starting to build a program here.”
Homer 42, Voznesenka 7
The Mariners finished off their season with a big win over the Cougars on Friday night in Homer.
Homer wrapped up the season with two straight victories to finish 2-6 overall, while Voznesenka ended at 1-6.
Led by the 243 rushing yard of freshman Noah Fisk, the Mariners broke open a 14-7 halftime lead with 20 third-quarter points.
Four Homer players took snaps in the quarterback position, led by Jack Heimbold’s 2-for-4 day. Heimbold struck for a pair of touchdown passes, both in the first half. Heimbold’s first score was caught by Justin Sumption 4 yards out for a 6-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
Heimbold then connected with Joe Ravin on a 20-yard touchdown early in the second quarter, putting Homer up 14-0 after a two-point run by Heimbold.
Voz responded by scoring with 12 seconds left before halftime when Azary Reutov carried the ball on a short scoring run.
Homer pulled away in the third quarter on a short Chris Cudaback touchdown pass, a short Fisk run and a long 67-yard Fisk scramble, which put the Mariners up 34-7 at the end of three quarters.
Overall, Homer outgained Voznesenka 454 yards to 70.
MARINERS 42, COUGARS 7
Homer 6 8 20 8 —42
Voznesenka 0 7 0 0 —7
Hom — Sumption 4 pass from Heimbold, 5:35
Hom — Ravin 20 pass from Ravin (Heimbold run), 10:59
Voz — Reutov 4 run (Martishev kick), :12
Hom — Cudaback 7 pass (Woo run), 6:18
Hom — Fisk 1 run, 3:19
Hom — Fisk 67 run, 1:09
Hom — Fisk 56 pass from Mann (Sallee run), 10:16
First downs 22 5
Rushing yds 45-359 29-72
Passing yds 95 -2
Comp-pass-int 5-7-0 1-6-0
Punt yds 2-(-2.0) 5-38
Return yds 2-14 7-65
Penalties 3-35 5-35
Rushing — Hom: Woo 3-19, Fisk 17-243, Heimbold 12-65, Salzman 3-14, Ravin 1-(-9), King 1-6, Love 7-23, Sumption 1-(-2). Voz: Kusnetsov 4-3, A. Reutov 13-49, Sanarov 12-20.
Passing — Hom: Heimbold 2-4-0—24, Mann 1-1-0—56, Salzman 1-1-0—8, Cudaback 1-1-0—7. Voz: Reutov 1-4-0—(-2), Murachev 0-1-0—0, Martishev 0-1-0—0.
Receiving — Hom: Fisk 1-56, Sumption 2-12, Ravin 1-20, Cudaback 1-7. Voz: Martishev 1-(-2).