The Soldotna football team moved to 3-0 with a dominant, 42-7 nonconference win over Christian High School on Friday at Granite Hills High School just outside of San Diego.
Christian (1-2 overall) is a school of about 400 that has a decorated football history. There are 70 players in the program, which has 10 California Interscholastic Federation championships to its credit. Christian also plays in the Eastern League of the San Diego City Conference and has 10 league titles, including in five of the last six years.
But the Patriots were no match for the Stars, who scored on six of eight possessions, not counting a brief, run-out-the-clock drive at the end of the game. With 10 minutes, 24 seconds, left in the fourth quarter, SoHi scored to go up 42-7 and invoke the mercy rule and a running clock.
“It’s definitely a feather in our hat for our program to come down and beat a program here that’s done very well historically,” Brantley Jr. said. “I’m proud of the accomplishment, but there’s a lot of season left.
“If we show up and lay an egg and don’t win the state championship, nobody will care that we won a Week 4 game on the road.”
The Stars also were dominant on defense. Christian had eight drives. Three of those were three-and-outs, while another ended abruptly on the first play on an interception by Will Simmons.
Soldotna rolled up 344 yards on the ground and another 81 through the air, while Christian had 80 on the ground and 119 through the air. In a startling display of offensive execution, Soldotna had just five plays go for negative or zero plays, including two incomplete passes.
“Their defense was so unfamiliar with our style of football,” Brantley Jr. said. “They had athletes but they don’t see anything like us. They see a lot of spread. They could never figure us out.”
On defense, Brantley Jr. said coaches Eric Pomerleau, Phil Leck and Sarge Truesdell did a great job of preparing the players to face Christian’s attack.
Practicing inside due to smoke from the wildfire didn’t stop SoHi from throttling South last weekend, and California heat didn’t stop the Stars this week. The temperature got up to 98 during the day at Granite Hills, but dropped to the mid-80s as the sun set shortly after kickoff and gave the Stars a taste of Friday night lights.
Jersey Truesdell directed the efficient attack for the Stars, rushing 10 times for 65 yards and hitting 4 of his 6 passes for 81 yards. He had a touchdown pass and a touchdown run.
“Jersey Truesdell had a really good game getting us in and out of the right play calls,” Brantley Jr. said.
Aaron Faletoi imposed his will on the Christian defense as the game wore on, rushing 10 times for 122 yards and two touchdowns, including six carries for 99 yards in the second half.
“He had a really big hit on their starting running back on a screen play, and a big sack,” Brantley Jr. said. “He did a really good job on both sides.”
Wyatt Medcoff gave the Patriots fits bursting through the middle all evening, getting 13 carries for 101 yards and a touchdown. He also caught two balls for 53 yards.
A Medcoff rushing touchdown started the scoring for SoHi with 7:08 left in the first quarter. On SoHi’s next drive, Medcoff fumbled but there was no harm when the Stars defense made the Patriots go three-and-out for the third straight time.
Sohi then went on a 11-play, 4:40, 80-yard drive that ended with a Faletoi 2-yard touchdown with 11:55 left in the second quarter. Williams then intercepted on Christian’s next play, and four plays and 46 yards later, Galen Brantley Jr. caught a 16-yard pass from Truesdell for a 20-0 lead with 9:48 left in the second quarter.
The Patriots then had their best drive of the game, a 12-play, 66-yard effort capped by a 7-yard plunge from Gabe Stine for a 20-7 game. Then came SoHi’s lone three-and-out of the game, but the Stars were able to stop a Christian drive at the 19 to keep the score at 20-7.
The Stars took back the momentum with an eight-play, 65-yard drive capped by a Truesdell run to start the half, then turned the Patriots over on downs after eight plays. Six plays later, Faletoi had a bruising 35-yard run with 2:10 left in the third to make it 35-7.
“The break couldn’t have come at a better time,” Brantley Jr. said of halftime. “It was hot, and we had a chance to get their core temperatures down and get them watered up and iced up. We started the second half the way we started the game, and they didn’t recover.”
The Stars were able to do other things on the trip, like watch UC Davis top San Diego 38-35, visit Belmont Park and the San Diego Zoo.
“This was a bonding experience for a group of guys to be able to do some things they’ve never done before and may never do again,” Brantley Jr. said.
Houston 20, Homer 8
The defending Peninsula Conference champion Hawks opened up conference play on the road in Homer by coming back from an early deficit for the win.
Houston is 4-0 overall and 1-0 in the league, while Homer is 1-2 and 0-1.
With 1:27 left in the first quarter, Carter Tenison caught a 46-yard touchdown pass from Anthony Kalugin, then Kalugin ran in the conversion, for an 8-0 lead.
But the Hawks’ control of the line of scrimmage would be too much to overcome. Houston ended up with 232 rushing yards on 51 attempts, while Homer was at 18 yards on 16 carries.
Owen Mulhaney had 125 yards on 17 carries and cut the gap to 8-6 with a 58-yard run with 4:25 left in the second quarter.
In the third, Mulhaney put Homer ahead for good when he scored on a 5-yard run, when ran in the conversion for a 14-8 lead with 0:29 left in the third quarter. A 24-yard interception return by Houston’s Apete Sasiu finished off the Mariners with 2:30 left in the game.
Ketchikan 34, Seward 6
The visiting Kings notched a Peninsula Conference victory over the Seahawks on Saturday. Ketchikan is 1-1 overall and 1-0 in the league, while Seward is 0-3 and 0-1.
Stars 42, Patriots 7
Soldotna 7 13 15 7 — 42
Christian 0 7 0 0 — 7
Sol — Medcoff 18 run (Truesdell kick), 7:08.
Sol — Faletoi 2 run (Truesdell kick), 11:55.
Sol — Brantley Jr. 16 pass from Truesdell (kick failed), 9:48.
Chr — Stine 7 run (Provence kick), 3:52.
Sol — Truesdell 1 run (Brantley from Truesdell), 8:57.
Sol — Faletoi 35 run (Truesdell kick), 2:10.
Faletoi 4 run (Truesdell kick), 10:24.
First downs 17 12
Rushes-yards 44-344 28-80
Passing yards 81 119
Comp-att-int 4-6-0 9-21-1
Punts 1-38.0 4-45.8
Fumbles 2-1 1-0
Rushing — Soldotna: Faletoi 10-122, Truesdell 10-65, Medcoff 13-101, Metcalf 5-26, Johnson 3-24, O’Reagan 1-2, Taylor 1-2, Escott 1-2. Christian: Krug 16-53, Salacup 3-(-6), Stine 9-33.
Passing — Soldotna: Truesdell 4-6-0—81; Christian: Krug 9-21-1—119.
Receiving — Soldotna: Medcoff 2-53, Metcalf 1-12, Brantley III 1-16. Christian: Stroman 1-0, Salacup 5-64, Stine 1-15, Beezer 2-40.
Hawks 20, Mariners 8
Houston 0 6 8 6 — 20
Homer 8 0 0 0 — 8
Hom — Tenison 46 pass from A. Kalugin (A. Kalugin run), 1:27.
Hou — O. Mulhaney 58 run, 4:25.
Hou — O. Mulhaney 5 run (O. Mulhaney run), 0:29.
Hom — Sasiu 24 interception return, 2:30.
First downs 14 4
Rushes-yards 51-232 18-16
Passing yards 18 68
Comp-att-int 2-4-1 5-15-2
Punts 2-28.0 3-39.3
Fumbles-lost 2-1 1-1
Penalties 9-75 4-35
Rushing — Houston: Falaniko 1-3, Fono 19-73, Croghan 2-2, G. Mulhaney 12-29, O. Mulhaney 17-125. Homer: Bradshaw 1-(-4), A. Kalugin 7-10, Murachev 2-(-2), Doughty 7-12, Wood 1-0.
Passing — Houston: Croghan 0-1-1—0, G. Mulhaney 2-3-0—18. Homer: Bradshaw 1-5-1—6, A. Kalugin 4-10-1—62.
Receiving — Houston: Falaniko 2-18. Homer: Hrenchir 1-11, Tenison 1-46, Wood 3-11.